Operator Clouds: Safeguard Memories, Grow Revenue and Build Loyalty

By Special Guest
Jeff Miller, Chief Commercial Officer, Synchronoss Technologies
  |  May 15, 2020

Chances are that, at some point, you’ve faced a “storage almost full” smartphone message that led to a heart-wrenching attempt to determine which video and photo memories could be purged from your device’s memory. Will it be your son singing his ABCs? Photos of mom’s 80th birthday party? Or sunset pictures from last year’s Caribbean vacation?

In a world where multi-GB digital files are common and the cost for high-memory devices have skyrocketed, it’s little surprise that smartphone users are increasingly turning to – and willing to pay for – premium cloud-based solutions that allow them to offload personal content to easily accessed cloud storage solutions. Apple’s iCloud, Google (News - Alert) Cloud and other OTT providers have all jumped on the opportunity created by our desire to save documentation in our everyday lives as well as special events.

However, offering additional storage isn’t just for companies like Apple (News - Alert) or Google. The fact is that telecom operators have distinct advantages over these cloud providers. Not only can operators seamlessly integrate backup and storage into the smartphone experience, but they also can incorporate additional value-added services that are not possible via an OTT app, including the ability to fully back up and sync all of a smartphone’s data, including personal photos, videos, contacts, music and document files, messaging, and even operating system settings across multiple devices.

Clearly, the time has come for wireless network operators to grab their wedge of the cloud storage pie and the associated revenue that comes from meeting a common need in today’s digital ecosystem.

Leverage the trends in smartphone sales

With the decline of worldwide smartphone sales last year in part because of the inclination of buyers to hold on to their devices for longer periods of time, as well as new uncertainty resulting from the arrival of COVID-19 and its possible impact on supply chains, the smartphone market is facing an uncertain future. On the other hand, the smartphone multiplier market – the products and services that enhance the existing smartphone experience – is looking quite robust. Deloitte estimates that this market will see a 15% increase compared to 2019 and generate $459 billion of revenue in 2020 alone. These multipliers will become increasingly key to creating new sources of revenue for operators.

Cloud backup is one of those smartphone multipliers. As noted earlier, mobile users today are already comfortable with the idea of paying a premium for cloud storage. In addition to their reluctance to purchase more expensive phones with larger storage capacity, they understand that devices get lost, stolen and broken. While the devices themselves are replaceable, the personal content stored on those devices is not.

Fortunately, mobile operators are in an excellent position to take advantage of this growing desire for smartphone cloud-based backup and storage. First, they already have gained the confidence of their subscribers by building solid, long-term relationships based on a foundation of trust and continuity. Second, operators’ reputations for their ability to protect privacy and secure personal data has not come under fire as has happened with a number of other cloud providers whose track records and decision making have been marred by privacy and security scandals. This well-earned reputation has positioned operators as an excellent alternative to OTT cloud services. 

Meet the needs of subscribers

Operators also have an intuitive on-ramp to multiplier services for consumers because they are able to put an offering of cloud and backup service in front of subscribers at the times those individuals are most likely to jump at the opportunity to protect their content. Because operators own and deliver the subscriber experience, they can naturally prompt new or expanded cloud service during the purchase and setup of a new device or contract renewal.

Another advantage that mobile operators have is their ability to build desirable subscriber packages that include cloud backup. Using cloud to enrich a subscriber’s package arms operators with a crucial value proposition. One example is bundling cloud backup service into a premium plan. Another – the “try before you buy” model – introduces subscribers to the convenience of an operator’s cloud storage capabilities by giving them a small level of free storage with the option to upgrade to a premium storage tier once the free space has been used. Family plans also can be enhanced with shared cloud “vaults” where families upload content and access it as part of their bundles.

The key here is that an operator-owned cloud offering eliminates a lot of user-friction that consumers may encounter with other cloud providers. Operators already manage a subscriber’s mobile device and data plan, so rolling cloud into this arrangement results in a more streamlined, integrated process that places users of multiple services under a single umbrella and on a single monthly bill.

Grab revenue that’s there for the taking today

With flat or falling traditional telecom revenue from voice and messaging plans, mobile operators cannot sit back and hope for the best. They must continue to implement new services designed to create more value for their subscribers, build brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, and bolster their bottom line as they face a future that includes the need to make massive investments in new technologies, including those associated with 5G networks.

Cloud backup and storage is one of the options.

Most importantly, it’s not difficult. In most cases, the required storage space and infrastructure is readily available. And operators certainly don’t have to start from scratch. Verizon, AT&T, BT and Proximus are examples of large operators who are selling feature-rich cloud backup services to their subscribers and bolstering their bottom line.

The blueprint for success – and a new revenue stream – is in place. Operators simply have to act.

About the author:  Jeff Miller serves as Chief Commercial Officer of Synchronoss Technologies. Jeff previously served as President for IDEAL Industries Technology Group, focusing on designing and delivering solutions for smart commercial buildings and spaces. IDEAL Industries is a century-old, professionally managed and family-owned business, based in the greater Chicagoland area. Jeff also serves on the Board of 1871, Chicago’s largest start-up incubator, and on the non-profit Boards of Aspire Chicago and Junior Achievement. Before joining IDEAL Industries in 2017, Jeff completed a 16-year career with Motorola (News - Alert), most recently as Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Operations in North America for Motorola Mobility, LLC. Previously, Jeff was Vice President of Sales for Motorola’s business with AT&T (News - Alert), T-Mobile, and 23-global wireless customers across North America, Latin America, EMEA and the Asia Pacific. Jeff graduated with a B.S. degree from Miami University and later earned his M.B.A. from The Ohio State University.

Edited by Erik Linask