The Future of Communication Technology: Jonathan Bean of Sinch On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Consumers’ evolving preferences for how they access products, services and information are changing, which means brands need to be there — ready to converse. To support this and meet the needs of consumers, companies need to focus on two-way communications.

Sinch enables companies to truly converse with their consumers, and consumers can engage with the brands they love in new yet familiar ways via Sinch’s conversational API solution. This approach is proven to increase sales, reduce costs and enhance the overall customer experience.

The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Bean.

Jonathan Bean is Chief Marketing Officer at Sinch. He has led the marketing transformation at Sinch as the company has grown from 400 to 2,000 plus employees in 47 countries and grown revenue from $460m to $930m over the last 24 months.

Prior to Sinch, Jonathan was COO & CMO of the marketing SaaS Scale up Mynewsdesk, where he helped grow the business from $500k to $30m ARR. He has won a number of awards for excellence and innovation in marketing, including Cannes Lion (Cannes), MMA Smarties, Webby (New York), Guldägget (Stockholm) and The Drum (London).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ihave always loved technology marketing and media. After growing up in London, I got my break into advertising and PR in Australia. I then followed a career in sales, marketing and general management in software companies in both the corporate and startup / scaleup world across 11 different countries. One of the things I got addicted to while studying for both my Bachelors of Communications at Leeds University and my MBA at Henley Business School was analyzing technology’s impact on the world — more importantly the growth it enables for both people and companies to solve everyday problems and make people’s lives easier. That fascination and curiosity is still alive and well today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Early in my career when I was working towards my MBA, I went on a study trip to South Africa for the program. While there, I (along with several other students) ended up in a game park doing walking safaris.

When you take part in a walking safari, your senses are really alive because you can be attacked at any given time by any of the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffalo). Why did the MBA program do this? Because most corporate business leaders get desensitized to the outside world. They get caught up in too much internal focus and lose sight of external inputs. The walking safari served to awaken our senses to the outside world.

To me, this translates to the importance of being close to customers and this has stuck with me throughout my career. It is critical to be aware of the changing dynamics of your market and how your customers are reacting. By tuning your senses to the external world, you’ll be able to better serve your customers and improve overall business operations.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Perfection lies in imperfection. If you dare to innovate then you will succeed.”

I often like to reference this quote because it’s important that you aren’t afraid of being imperfect. I come across a lot of people that are too focused on being perfect in their careers and it ends up holding them back because they never take a risk or try new things.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’d like to dedicate this to three female role models. Early in my career, I worked with two women who were leaders of mine who saw my potential and supported me in my career. I’ll forever be grateful for their leadership and guidance. I’d also put my wife in this category; she saw potential in me and has given me great support throughout my career as we’ve built a family and life together.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

All the software businesses that I have been involved with are all about making life easier. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to create hundreds of jobs for individuals. However, I’ve always looked to the technology that we’ve created to see how it can be used to simplify people’s lives which in turn, can bring great happiness and goodness to the world.

At Sinch, our vision is all about simplifying lives by bringing people and businesses together. A good example of this was teaming up with Mental Health America and Edelman last year to create the world’s first texting switchboard, Text for Humanity. The service (built on Sinch’s Conversation API) enabled people to send a positive message to a stranger — and receive one in return — before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Text For Humanity was enabled by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SMS, ensuring that anyone on the planet could participate. The campaign connected people from 85 countries and totaled more than 93,000 positive messages and over 50,000 social shares.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Consumers’ evolving preferences for how they access products, services and information are changing, which means brands need to be there — ready to converse. To support this and meet the needs of consumers, companies need to focus on two-way communications.

Sinch enables companies to truly converse with their consumers, and consumers can engage with the brands they love in new yet familiar ways via Sinch’s conversational API solution. This approach is proven to increase sales, reduce costs and enhance the overall customer experience.

How do you think this might change the world?

Making people’s lives simpler is really important to me. One of the reasons I joined Sinch was because I truly believed that mobile technology, done well creates better consumer experiences and enables companies to better compete. You can’t compete on price anymore because some other company will always be cheaper than you. You can’t compete on product differentiation these days because someone else will typically develop the same feature or product as you. However, you can compete on customer experience.

I’m hoping that as mobile becomes increasingly digitized, the greater the customer experience will be. We are helping companies digitize themselves, their business models and their processes very quickly. Most importantly, we are delivering a better customer experience, which in the end can simplify consumers’ lives so they can focus on other priorities and spend more time with family and friends.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Brands need to understand how personal a mobile phone is to a consumer, and there needs to be a relationship of trust that gets developed between brands and consumers. It’s a two-way street: Brands need to become a trusted entity and consumers need to give permission to brands to communicate with them.

Also, brands need to realize that mobile and messaging have become the nervous system of the internet. Take SMS for example: it is delivered within seconds and has a 98% open rate and 95% read rate within 3 minutes, making it the most effective channel that exists. At Sinch, we do 145 billion engagements a year and touch every single mobile phone on the planet, on average, 14 times a year. We [Sinch] have a big responsibility to make sure that our customers aren’t breaking that code of trust between themselves and their consumers.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Sinch has been a longtime leader in mobile and messaging. As we’ve globalized and expanded our business, we’ve realized that consumer behavior is changing. New channels are constantly coming online so there’s been a technology shift and more possibilities that brands can take advantage of. Furthermore, we’ve learned that customers want to be engaged on the channel of their choice.

On the marketing side, email has remained pretty consistent throughout my career. However, if you look at the really poor return on email (25% average open rate) it’s proving to no longer be an effective channel. If brands integrate the expanding world of new channels that their customers prefer, then they have a powerful tool to help improve the overall customer experience.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

I think it’s on us, and the market in general, to drive the message of what is possible and what can be achieved with this technology in our mobile-enabled world. We also need to highlight successful cases where companies have increased their revenue and increased the customer experience using this technology.

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for this digitalization. Companies were now forced to engage with consumers like never before, so they have been testing and trying new things. Financial institutions are a good example: prior to the pandemic, they used mobile technology to only send fraud alerts but COVID-19 forced them to communicate with their customers at scale.

At the beginning of the pandemic, my company turned its attention to the travel industry — helping people get home from cruise ships and other countries when travel restrictions started going into effect. We also empowered working from home, making sure technology providers had the proper resources and technology to support their customers at home.

Another core focus area was the healthcare industry. We’ve been working with government entities and providers around the world to help rearrange health care appointments within minutes. Currently, we’re supporting COVID-19 vaccination programs around the world, powering them to make sure people go get the vaccine when it’s their turn.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

Our data shows that the pandemic will permanently change consumers’ habits. Consumers will certainly value in-person human interaction more but many will still prefer to do more online. I expect this will change companies’ business models and engagement practices for the better, as well as have a positive reflection on consumers’ experiences.

Consumer expectations will continue to increase which will force brands to deliver and meet their needs. It is my expectation that brands will have a new level of customer intimacy and be available online 24/7.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Power of People: If you have engaged and motivated people then you can move the world.
  2. Importance of Culture and Values: Particularly in a global environment, there’s more that bonds us together. Everyone wants to do a good job and succeed so making sure you prioritize culture and value will help your company get ahead.
  3. Results Come From Failure: You need to fail along the way; not everything needs to be a success. Going through various levels of failure is not a negative. Failing, and learning from that, will help you learn and then help you produce amazing things.
  4. Take Yourself and Your Company a Little Less Seriously: In my line of work, we all want to do a great job and deliver a great experience but it’s not the end of the world if something goes wrong. Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing and have a little fun along the way.
  5. Everyone is Human: People who are our bosses are human. People who are our employees are human. People who buy our products are human. Have compassion for others and realize that they are human just like you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d want to start a movement focused on self-awareness. Knowing what you’re not good at and being comfortable talking about it is important and isn’t something that is taught a lot in school. In the U.S., you’re taught how to debate and focus on your strengths, and in other countries you’re taught to be more humble. It’s important to know what you’re good at while also understanding what you aren’t good at and being open to talking about it. As you grow as a business leader and a member of society, you can complement your weaknesses with other people that have great strengths.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow Sinch on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.


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