Meet the Simplifiers: Bill Hurley, CMO

This article was originally published by the Global CMO of Siegel+Gale, Margaret Molloy, as part of Siegel+Gale’s Simplifier series. The article is republished here with permission.

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem Simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview, I speak with Bill Hurley, Chief Marketing Officer at Syniverse.

Founded in 1987, Syniverse has a secure global network that serves as a bridge to billions of people and devices across the world. Today, the company’s software and services connect consumers across more than 200 countries and territories, enabling seamless mobile communications across disparate and rapidly evolving networks, devices, and applications.

MM: What does Syniverse stand for?
BH: Syniverse stands for empowering businesses. As the world’s most connected company, we make it simpler for businesses to connect with their customers and their markets. Within the operator space, Syniverse has gone from a brand that was on its heels, to a brand that is on its toes.

MM: Your brand stands for empowering businesses. Please give me an example of how you deliver on that promise every day?
BH: For example, say that Company A wants to download all of the information that comes from its jet engines every time a plane with its engines lands anywhere in the world. Moreover, the company wants this process to happen instantly and securely. With our private network, we can ingest that data and bring it back to a company’s headquarters directly, without it ever touching the internet and, most importantly, without the company having to negotiate individual contracts with multiple wireless providers around the world.

MM: Please give me a simple client use case.
BH: We have developed the most extensive private network ever built for linking to the mobile ecosystem. It reaches 7 billion devices every single day securely and separately from the public internet. Whether a network is for a communication provider or a business, our network empowers people with access and the connection to every mobile device on Earth.

MM: What role does simplicity play in the promise of empowering businesses?
BH: Simplification is huge for us, and it takes many forms. But our ability to simplify had to start internally. For example, we had a portfolio of 80 products, and we streamlined these to three categories of products.

That simplification also manifests itself in terms of the brand. In the past, we were enabling the wireless experience. Now our tagline reflects where we stand as a brand—connecting and empowering businesses around the world.

MM: What benefits has your company experienced from simplifying?
BH: Simplification not only helps our employees understand what we do, but it also helps our customers by igniting passion around the Syniverse brand and our extensive capabilities

For either the markets we were already in or the new markets we are now trying to penetrate, there was a lack of understanding of who we were—customers didn’t appreciate the breadth of our capabilities. For someone to quickly grasp who we are and what we do, simplification was crucial.

MM: How do you keep things “simple” for your team as a marketing leader?
BH: The telecommunications space has cornered the market on acronyms, and, as a result, few people know what anyone is ever talking about. If you weren’t familiar with the language, you were in the dark. Simplification has been this fun endeavor of eliminating acronyms. Furthermore, I think it’s working. We’re getting people to be more precise: writing in plain English and talking in human terms.

MM: What’s the most recent simple customer experience that inspired you?
BH: I just bought a car from Mercedes-Benz, and it couldn’t have been easier. Having been in that business years and years ago, I know how complicated the process can be. I have a deeper appreciation of how the car dealer simplified the buying experience.

MM: What is the biggest mistake brands make with regard to simplifying?
BH: It’s part of my responsibility as CMO to simplify within the organization. Whether its legal, operations, or customer support, departments can get wrapped around the wheel well in terms of thinking that something is too complex. The ability to work with them and help them simplify their internal view and processes is paramount to being simple in your customer’s mind. Nobody ever told this to me; it’s just one of those things I learned as CMO. If you don’t get that right, you’re never going to be able to project yourself in the market the way you want.

MM: Any recent example of a difficult decision that you made at Syniverse that you had to do for the sake of simplicity?
BH: It’s been an interesting conversation with customers who have been with us for 20, 30 years. In simplifying how we describe our portfolio, some of our longtime customers had trouble, since they had become accustomed to working with Syniverse in a particular way. But, ultimately, we want to get to a point where customers say, “Wow, I didn’t know Syniverse did all that. Let’s talk about how else you can help me.”

MM: What does “simplicity” mean to you?
BH: Simplicity means easy to understand as far as how it relates to me.

MM: What advice would you give to other brands trying to simplify?
BH: Simplify internally in order to project simplification externally.

MM: Anything else?
BH: You have to invest time in how you go about simplifying your terminology, your brand, your tone, and your narrative. Simplification doesn’t mean dumbing it down—simplification means being precise.

MM: Thank you.

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