As a CMO, William (Bill) Hurley experiences firsthand how B2B companies are improving the digital experience, creating new products or services in a digital-first world, managing risk profiles, and improving back office efficiency.
William Hurley sees Syniverse as being at the center of helping organizations go through digital transformations, which often incorporates mobile interactions and connection. And that attracted him to the company that enables secure, private transactions between mobile devices around the world.
Hurley joined Syniverse to help with their ability to help customers achieve their transformation goals. In our interview we discuss the role of the CMO, managing up to the board, and evaluating success.
Tell me about the recent innovations Syniverse is bringing to market.
We recently launched Syniverse Secure Global Access, which gives enterprise organizations an isolated secure network of over 7 billion devices and people.
Historically, Syniverse was an operator-based organization, and transforming Syniverse into a company that can deliver products and services in the B2B enterprise space either directly or with our operator partners is a huge transformation.
So we’re transforming Syniverse in terms of the products and service offerings, and we’re transforming the culture and the brand itself at the same time. Syniverse is a pretty well-known brand in the operator space, but in the enterprise B2B side it’s not as well-known. So our rebranding is an opportunity to introduce ourselves into the market.
We have three sets of offerings. We have the largest separate global network, accessing over 7 billion devices. Part two is what we call our Engage portfolio which is our messaging platforms. We provide omni-channel messaging for both operators and enterprises. So if you want to send out various text messages, we provide that capability on a global basis.
And then the third area is transactions, i.e. our exchange capabilities, where we clear and settle over 4 billion transactions a day. We do that 24 hours and 7 days a week around the world.
As companies build IoT devices, Syniverse handles the microtransactions. We’ve been doing it on the operator side clearing and settling between Verizon and Vodafone for 30 years. Now we’re taking that expertise and knowledge and bringing it to the enterprise.
How should CMOs think about their role in the organization?
The CMO’s job is about growth and it’s about the customer experience. But at the end of the day, as the CMO you’re the glue that holds together all the other departments in your organization, continuously helping to keep the focus on growth.
Ultimately a CMO is not going to be measured necessarily because their customer satisfaction score is a certain number. They’re going to be measured on how they successfully helped a company grow, and you cannot grow your business just sitting in marketing or product management alone.
You have to be able to work closely with every department whether it’s legal, finance, sales or customer support. You have to be the glue between all of these groups, pushing them and pulling them together to focus on growth.
The thing that I learned most profoundly as I move through different organizations is you’ll be recognized as being successful when you are rallying every other part of the organization to grow.
What are two important focus areas for CMOs today?
It’s two things. One is absolutely have to constantly have that pulse on the customer. This must be measurable and related to who is buying, satisfaction, failure rates, and service improvements.
You must understand the voice of the customer relative to how their business is changing. Your company must be aligned to this.
Second, as it becomes noisy inside your company it’s important to have positive, upbeat anecdotal narratives about how your company helped customers achieve a market goal. Employees should know and be able to repeat these narratives because when the organization evolves the teams need to feel like they’re a part of a greater purpose.
It’s about customer research, and understanding their needs. And when it gets tense inside the organization, it’s about having narratives and real life stories that people can rally around helps employees remember why the company exists.
What are your tips for managing up to the board?
I’ve been lucky enough to be in organizations with good board members.
For conversations with the board, start off with the facts and what’s going on in the market. For example, “Here’s what our customer’s needs are based on what’s going on in that market and here’s how Syniverse is solving for those needs. And here’s what’s going well, and here’s where we need help and advice. Sewing that story together is the first set of responsibilities to the board.
The second set of responsibilities is to give color on who we are in the market and that can be through the narratives or through anecdotes. The CMO brings the color of the business to the meeting relative to what the customer is saying and how the market is trending. You must set the stage. They don’t know everything unless you share that information about the market and the customer needs.
The board looks at margin numbers all day long. Meeting with the CMO is a time to have a more dynamic conversation. Every single time that I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a board member it’s been valuable.
It’s incumbent upon the CMO to make sure the board is aware of the market dynamics. In some companies that can mean delivering that to the CEO who will then deliver to the board.
If you’re doing a good job they’re going to be able to provide insights that you wouldn’t normally expect from board members and it can be very, very valuable.
For the Syniverse brand transformation, how are you evaluating success?
We’re addressing several challenges depending on the market segment, so we have different metrics for each one. For example, we are moving different needles depending on the operator side versus the enterprise side of the business. They are different markets each with different levels of maturity, and different levels of brand awareness. With these dynamics we measure differently by market.
We measure revenue, margin, customer satisfaction and net promoter score. But as we transform our portfolio we look at performance against the forecasts for our new products. With new products we’re bringing to market, we want to know they are creating value for customers. It’s important to understand how much we increased the value we deliver with each new products.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Bill Hurley oversees the management of Syniverse’s portfolio of products and solutions, and leads the planning, development, and execution of Syniverse’s marketing, communications, and brand strategy. Bill brings more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles at companies across the cloud, mobile, security, network and IT sectors. Most recently, he served as Chief Marketing Officer of CenturyLink, where he helped drive the transformation of CenturyLink to an enterprise IT-services company that focuses on customer experience. Prior to that, Bill was Chief Marketing Officer at Unify and helped grow the company’s integrated communication solutions and pivot to cloud, channel, and IT services. Previously, he served as CTO at technology distributor Westcon and CIO at insurance broker Marsh. Bill holds an MBA in finance from Fordham University and a B.S. in computer science from the State University of New York at Albany.