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Every day Syniverse talks to enterprises and brands. Hundreds of them. In fact, the ‘global transaction processor’ connects more than 1,500 companies in nearly 200 countries.  MEF spoke to CMO Mary Clark about the importance of trust, security and privacy in the brand consumer relationship.

Syniverse specialises in cloud-based solutions that effectively make it easy for its customers to simplify the way they talk to customers. Historically the target was operators, with Syniverse focused on improving services like roaming, number portability and LTE roll-out.

Messaging was also key. And this led Syniverse to work with consumer-facing brands in verticals like banking, hospitality, retail and travel. Syniverse helps these companies to make the best of messaging campaigns to improve response rates and overall engagement.

After decades of experience and hundreds of case studies, Syniverse knows a lot about this stuff.

   Nothing changed our lives more than this device, so if a marketer is considering every touch point, it has to be the phone first. But then you have to be extremely careful how you use the data. It’s a really really big deal.

And it has some bad news.

Many brands are doing it wrong, and customers are getting fed up.

Earlier this year, Syniverse published the results of a major multi-national survey. It asked 8,000 consumers how they feel brands are doing in terms of trust, security and privacy on mobile.

Alarmingly, the answer came back loud and clear.

  • 75 percent of consumers don’t trust brands to take care of their data.
  • 71 percent of respondents say they don’t trust mobile operators to take care of their data.
  • More than 50 per cent of people trust mobile operators and brands less today than they did three years ago.
  • 25 percent of consumers don’t believe their personal data will be kept private or secure.
  • 21 percent of consumers worry about how their data may be used in the future.
  • 19 percent of consumers surveyed are concerned that their data will be sold to third parties.
  • 94 percent have at least some concern when sharing data with brands.
  • 40 percent of consumers will reluctantly share basic personal data (age, gender and name) but fewer than 20 percent are willing to share more rich “contextual” data, such as location, browsing history and shopping habits.

Mary Clark, CMO of Syniverse, believes the problem can be boiled down to something very simple: brands are prioritising their own objectives over the sensibilities of consumers.

“We are constantly talking to companies in hospitality, travel, financial services and so on. They often think tactically. They want to use PassBook or SMS or push notifications to generate redemptions or sign-ups or whatever. That’s fine. We get that. But we also have to ask: where is the customer in all this?

“We urge them to think about the long term relationship not just the short term campaign. They have to because when research shows 70 per cent of people don’t trust brands with their data, you know something needs to change.”

Syniverse has a term for this: the ‘privacy predicament’.

It says brands assume consumers will willingly share personal data in return for more personalised services and better offers. Actually, consumers are far from willing. They do not feel that their mobile experiences have been significantly improved to date by the sharing of personal data.

Clark recognises that the personal nature of the smartphone makes it simultaneously a huge opportunity and grave danger for brands.

“Nothing changed our lives more than this device,” she says. “So if a marketer is considering every touch point, it has to be the phone first. But then you have to be extremely careful how you use the data. It’s a really really big deal.

“Look at what’s happening with advertising. We know that people don’t like how intrusive it’s become, and we can see the rise of ad blocking in response to that. We must avoid the same consumer backlash in messaging.”

What makes ill-conceived strategies so risky is the ease with which users can abandon a brand. “One too many notifications and, bam, app deleted. It’s that simple,” says Clark.

It all sounds pretty grave. However, Clark says the remedy boils down to two things: transparency and control. “Consumers want to know basic stuff like: will you keep my data safe? Who else will you give it to? And do I have any say in this? If you can give consumers access to this information and control over it, you can really start to build great relationships.”

In fact, Syniverse believes that – done properly – the opportunity to deliver personal contextual comms could be worth as much as $44 billion. A research report for Syniverse by economists at SEEC in 2014 said operators are well-positioned to deliver these tools.

It asserts that the insight into subscriber information, behaviour and location available to operators can drastically improve customer engagement and experience. Of course, it all has to be done in aggregate (so campaigns can reach all subscribers), and with guarantees of privacy and security.

None of this is easy.

tim-greenTim Green

Features Editor

MEF Minute

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But examples already exist to illustrate the benefits. Syniverse is already working with MasterCard, for example, on an opt-in service that lets cardholders make transactions overseas only when they have their mobile device switched on.

This service reduces fraud, of course. But its bigger aim is to reduce consumers’ frustrations when a payment is unnecessarily declined. “Operators have so much real-time data if they can just use it right” says Clark. “This is a great example of what’s possible. A use of location data that’s not intrusive and genuinely makes life easier for millions of people.”


Join us at the 6th annual MEF Global Consumer Trust Summit in San Francisco on June 23rd to discuss the drivers in the mobile ecosystem when it comes to Privacy & Security. Showcasing a clear shift from simple compliance to business-critical, the Summit provides pragmatic insights, discussions and guidance on the value of Consumer Trust to businesses’ bottom-line.