Zain Kuwait is part of the Zain Group, an industry leader in mobile services with over 46.1m active customers generating US$4.3 billion in consolidated revenues.
The company operates in eight Middle East and North Africa countries, including Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and Zain Kuwait is the group’s flagship business. Established in 1983, Zain Kuwait was the first operator in the region to launch a number of key mobile services nationwide, including 2G GSM (1994), 3G UMTS (2007), 4G LTE (2012) and 4G LTE-A (2014). It is now the leading telco provider in the country with a market share of 35% and a customer base of nearly three million users, generating US$2.9m and ARPUs of US$36.
Zain Kuwait has experienced 6% growth since 2014, resulting in a current customer base of 2.9 million customers. However, the company has experience some difficulties in responding and coping with the changes caused by this rapid growth. The turnaround time for new revenue streams, such as LTE transactional information, was taking between three and five months and the company was not recording transactions until two or more days after they actually occurred.
In addition, limited coverage and automation meant a lack of prepaid charging or value added services (VAS) coverage. Increasingly ad-hoc validations were generating further delays in the verification of data integrity by requiring time consuming manual file checks, housekeeping and data maintenance. Ultimately, more and more products were launching without revenue assurance (RA) verification and approval, leading to losses, errors, and less than ideal customer experience.
To deal with these issues, Zain Kuwait was looking for a partner with a high level of expertise in resolving the identified problems; one with technically powerful people able to deal with a massive ongoing technology transformation while still delivering the stability and know-how required to assure both customers and the individual revenue generation streams of the business.
Several solution providers and vendors were evaluated, with multiple site visits and group level presentations organised. At the end of the process, the decision was made to appoint WeDo Technologies, a specialist in enterprise business assurance.
WeDo Technologies implemented its RAID solution in phases across key sectors within Zain Kuwait’s business - usage assurance, subscriber and service assurance, rating validation, and prepaid balance validation (PBV). A dedicated project team was assigned from WeDo and, together with the technical team at Zain Kuwait, agreed on a plan that would meet each of the identified sector requirements.
The RAID Usage Assurance was deployed based on data sources and reconciliations, ensuring xDR (different types of data records) completeness throughout the network to bill chain and covering prepaid, roaming and interconnect issues to guarantee that no service remained unbilled. This allowed full visibility over possible discrepancies of customer usage across 17 Zain network elements, covering all critical voice, messaging and data services and “Switch to Bill” reconciliation.
Subscriber and service assurance deployment allowed the reconciliation of customers and services provisioned in distinct platforms, guaranteeing customer profile consistency across 80 control points on different Zain network platforms to reduce possible revenue leakages.
The rating validation deployment assured that xDR values were calculated or rated with accuracy, applying guiding and re-rating processes. Automated validation of usage charging via a ‘virtual’ rating system was used to reconcile with actual Zain post-paid and prepaid rating systems.
The PBV addressed a lack of visibility and accuracy of the IN, validating prepaid balance changes for all customer segments and providing controls for auditing of the prepaid traffic stream.
The activity has been rolled out across four phases: usage control, integrated in seven months, platform integrity which was completed in five months, rating validation which is currently ongoing, and prepaid balance validation (PBV) which is predicted for completion by the end of Q3 2015.
The implementation process experienced several challenges and obstacles, both technical and organisational. Aside from the predicted issues regarding hardware and software integration, there were also organisational challenges as Zain Kuwait was simultaneously undergoing its own transformation, leading to several instances where solutions needed to be amended or restarted.
“We immediately found that our relationship with WeDo worked best when based on full transparency, frankness and understanding. When teamed with WeDo’s suggestions on how things can be improved or shared experiences from other operators, we found that the team were genuinely working towards giving us what we wanted and that all of the challenges we faced were easy to overcome with their support,” said Zaid Al-Othman, revenue assurance manager, Zain Kuwait.
Since working with WeDo Technologies, Zain Kuwait has expanded the controls and coverage for all its revenue streams, with issues now uncovered in hours rather than days / weeks as previously. This has enabled them to move from a purely reactive to proactive approach to RA. RAID software has reduced the steps needed to detect system anomalies to a minimum and led to greater traceability of issues, as well as additional reporting of findings and process errors. In addition, the turnaround time to develop new loadings has now fallen to around three weeks on average and financial reconciliation discrepancies fell from eight percent to less than one percent in the six months since production.
The improved automation of routine checks means that it now requires no / little intelligence to conduct; 97 daily checks are fully automated and an RA Analyst no longer needs to perform manual data gathering and cross-system verification.
“The biggest benefit has been restored confidence in RA within Zain. We now have accurate controls that give us the capability to handle our ongoing transformation and launch more complex products while minimising risks.
Not only this, but we can ensure customer experience is maintained throughout, helping us to maintain market leadership in Kuwait. In turn, this has all led to greater visibility for the RA team internally which has led to greater influence on upcoming projects. Indeed, there are many things that we could not do at all without RAID in place,” Al-Othman said.