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Synchronoss outlines new strategy focused on IoT

Some 17 years ago, white label messaging software supplier Synchronoss was handling all the back end components for AT&T following the arrival of the first iPhone. Today, the operator’s reliance on Synchronoss has slipped to managing “a number of services,” presumably as in-house technologies have grown in prominence, driving the vendor to develop software supporting what many operators are striving for in the future – ownership of the smart city.

The US vendor is currently on a marketing spree spearheaded by two new faces, CEO Glen Lurie (formerly AT&T’s head of devices) and CMO Mary Clark. Speaking to Wireless Watch’s sister service, Faultline Online Reporter, this week, Clark explained how Lurie’s 27 years at AT&T, primarily working on digital transformation including the integration of DirecTV, has proved pivotal to Synchronoss’ own transformation towards the cloud and areas such as connected cars.

We have come across Synchronoss before through its involvement in AT&T’s Drive Studio project, an in-vehicle infotainment venture, supplying web portals and customer care support – covering front end and back end services. Clark touched briefly on the connected car business but assured us this is just one area of a more aggressive, overarching IoT package built around cloud messaging.

The Drive Studio lists a number of partner companies and sponsors, including Ericsson, VoiceBox, Synchronoss, Accenture, Amdocs and Cisco’s Jasper.

Synchronoss has added a handful of major deals to its repertoire this year already, signing a new five-year deal with Verizon to supply its Personal Cloud Platform, providing mobile subscribers with secure access to personal content. Sprint also tapped Synchronoss to simplify the order management process, providing a customized customer interface to Sprint – while providing insights and analytics.

Content in various guises is an essential component within any smart city ecosystem, while other business verticals still have it all to prove in terms of monetization. For this, Synchronoss supplies AT&T, plus some other big operator names, with its Mobile Content Transfer software – for shifting content across different operating systems and networks.

The principle is simple but effective. Synchronoss’ cloud-hosted software allows users to transfer photos, contacts, videos and music from an old mobile device to a new one. While this is an easy task when remaining inside the Google or Apple ecosystems, this ease of transfer comes unstuck when a consumer switches from iPhone to Android, or from Verizon to AT&T, for example. An added bonus is replacing expensive cable transfer boxes at stores. Mobile Content Transfer works over WiFi, providing users with a QR code to scan.

Building on its three core product lines – cloud, messaging and digital services – Synchronoss is toying with letting machine learning loose in its software pretty soon, according to Clark.

Critically, this will apply to Synchronoss’ customer care services business, a sensitive subject which Clark was tentative to get into with respect to how many jobs this could put in peril, considering the company claims to support hundreds of millions of subscribers. “Our approach is not really AI today, but more in analytics,” said Clark, adding that the company’s machine learning pursuit will be achieved through an aggressive partnership strategy rather than investing inhouse.

Clark could not name names concerning partners involved in this aggressive strategy, other than AWS, which Synchronoss is currently licensing some services from but has not fully migrated its resources over to AWS cloud infrastructure.

“Plans for 2018 are about growing our Cloud, Messaging, Digital and IoT businesses as operators and other service providers continue to become digital first companies,” said Clark. “We do see competition in each of the specific service areas we offer, however, our vision is to support companies as they pursue a digital-first experience leveraging various capabilities to help them achieve the best possible customer journey, for mobile, wireline and IoT related services.”

A plan to enter multiple IoT sectors will put Synchronoss up against a whole lot of competition, perhaps more so than in the digital services and messaging software markets where the vendor has been squeezed out of deployments by in-house technologies.

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