Email a colleague    

May 2012

Welcome to Black Swan Telecom Journal

About the Journal

Join us in building a lively on-line community in support of the telecom business assurance profession.

“Business assurance” is a wrapper term that draws a circle around the widely dispersed practice of using business controls, workflows and data marts to check for retail or enterprise billing/ordering errors, fraud issues, security holes, inter-carrier or partner billing problems, and a host of operational problems and opportunities.

Business assurance is a rallying cry for champions of operational excellence.  While our primary mission will be to promote the careers and enhance the knowledge of business assurance pros, a vital secondary mission is to infuse a “business assurance culture” across communications organizations — from board room executives to call center agents.

Business assurance pros work for many telecom departments and the brainpower is supplied by both telco employees and virtual employees such as consultants and outsourced experts.  Their job titles stretch far beyond the boundary of revenue assurance and fraud departments.  If the mission of business assurance is to audit operations, analyze problems, and improve processes, that could take you into all sorts of places -- the call center, margin analysis, cybersecurity, to mention just a few.

So that’s where business assurance is at today.  It’s a diverse group of experts unified by a broad knowledge of telecom processes and a skill for manipulating diverse data sets to protect the enterprise, grow the business, or get to the root of critical issues.

TRI has just completed a 635-page research report on the business assurance market and state of the practice.  We predict in that report that business assurance will continue to grow in importance.  We see it expanding into many new directions, particularly as the communications business becomes more complex and partner/outsource-friendly in the years ahead.

What’s Behind the Black Swan Name?

“Business Assurance Journal” would have been an obvious title for this new magazine.  Trouble is: that title is about as exciting as standing in line at a government office.

We took our name from the New York Times best-selling book, The Black Swan; written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  The book is a fascinating account of how people constantly misread data, let statistics fool them, and settle for over-simplified explanations that gloss over key nuances.

In 16th century England, sighting a “black swan” was considered an impossible event until Dutch explorers confirmed the existence of black swans in Western Australia around 1697.  In the book, Taleb defines a black swan as a highly improbable event that has a massive impact.  Japan’s deadly 2011 tsunami is a negative black swan.  The meteoric rise of Apple’s iPhone and the telecom service that accompanied it are positive black swans.

We think the Black Swan name is a good metaphor for business assurance — the practice of analyzing/leveraging operational data and knowledge to benefit the business.

White swans can be thought of as the expected events and well-functioning systems that allow a business to glide smoothly across the lake.  Black swans, meanwhile, are the data anomalies and hard-to-discover facts that can impact the business for both good or bad.

On the negative side are the system glitches, errant CDRs, outdated processes, inside fraudsters, malicious botnets, and other unseen icebergs that can sink the business.  But there are positive black swans to exploit as well: low cost/high profit services like SMS and IN, breakthrough decision-making techniques, unexpected pockets of opportunity, and calculated risk-taking.

The Lake of Telecom Tranquility

Protecting and growing a robust communications business.

The “Lake of Telecom Tranquility” diagram above shows some of the key subject areas we will explore in the months and years ahead.  Our mission will be buttressed by the motto: “Protecting and growing a robust communications business.”  The best telecom businesses are not fly-by-night concerns, but “robust” operators who measure their risks, correct operational shortcomings, and seize opportunities so they can deliver value over many years.

A Call for Experts

The big publishers have shied away from creating a dedicated zine on business assurance because they consider the audience to be too small.  But that’s not how we see it.  Business assurance may be a small solutions market, but it’s a highly strategic practice within any communications business.  It’s an area that more executives need to pay attention to because the issues we worry about get to the heart of managing the telecom enterprise.

The articles you see on the site as we launch the magazine are just the beginning.  In addition to delivering a steady stream of great articles, we will eventually post white papers, book reviews, an events calendar, surveys, and other features that will bring the business assurance community together.

So I reach out to you and ask: what area of knowledge can you contribute to the business assurance profession through this forum?  Is there a company case study that others would appreciate hearing about?  Is there some facet of your day-to-day activity as a business assurance analyst, consultant, or manager that you are willing to share?

We’re here to help.  We are skilled at turning a 30 minute rolling discussion into an interesting article.  If you supply the expertise, Black Swan can make you sound good in “print”.  And as you contribute something valuable to this community, you also enhance your our professional stature and advance your career goals.

Pease contact me personally.  I look forward to working with you.


Contact Us

The best way to reach us is by email. Here is our contact information:

Black Swan Telecom Journal
c/o Technology Research Institute
1245 N. Rocky Mountain Drive
Effort of the Poconos, PA 18330

Dan Baker, Editor
Tel: 1-570-620-2320
Email: dbaker at


Copyright 2012 Black Swan Telecom Journal