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Jackson-based firm gearing up for Web

B2B passé? Not quite but SmartSynch on to B2A

JACKSON — Forget the business-to-business connection for a moment. The new buzzword in telecommunications is business-to-asset. And companies like SmartSynch are gearing up to take part in the new wave of the Internet.

“The Internet literally began with business to consumers, and that was the age of AOL and Yahoo, making the Internet something people could get online with,” said Mark Rodgers, CEO of SmartSynch. “It was a very successful phase. The phase we’re in now is known as business-to-business, and we’re beginning to see the impact of the Internet on the efficiencies of companies by creating purchasing combinations and alliances and more closely aligning the systems within the resource planning area.

“Our vision is very clear: we think the next tremendous leap in the Internet is going to be business-to-asset, and our company enables those B2A connections.”

Never heard of SmartSynch? That’s because its name was recently changed from XP Technology, established in 1986 by Ross Hamilton in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as a division of Canadian Explosion Proof Generators (CEPG).

“XP Technology was established after the company made an explosion-proof generator for the oil patch in northwest Canada,” said Rodgers, former vice president of SkyTel’s fixed wireless division.

“Companies began to ask if there was a way to monitor generators and other points on pipelines, wellheads and other assets in very harsh, remote locations. The company began to do that, using a satellite system in the early 1990s, when SkyTel launched its two-way paging network. That’s when we hooked up and outlined a program for monitoring literally all corporate assets.”

In June, XP Technology, already an established leading provider of end-to-end fixed wireless solutions, received $8 million in first round funding when it formed strategic alliances with three venture capital firms and one corporate partner: Lime Rock Partners, Kinetic Ventures, Siemens Venture Capital and Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution.

The telecommunications company reorganized from a Canadian to a U.S.- based corporation under a new name: SmartSynch, a moniker coined from “smart” and “synchronize” to better reflect their mission as a solutions provider.

“By connecting enterprises to their mobile workers and remote devices, we are enhancing customer service, creating new revenue streams, and lowering operating costs for companies,” said Rodgers. “In essence, we’re delivering the benefits of the convergence of wireless and the Internet.”

SmartSynch, a privately-held corporation already earning millions in revenue, is one of numerous spin-offs in the booming telecommunications industry where analysts predict that by 2005, more than one billion wireless data users globally will represent a $30-billion market for wireless data products and services.

Jackson was chosen as the company’s headquarters because it was “the perfect location for a wireless Internet company,” Rodgers said.

When Stephen Johnston, director of business development, joined the company in mid-May after eight years as an investment banker in North Carolina, he was the eighth employee hired in the Jackson office. Since then, 30 more people have been added, with plans to hire more than 60 within the next 12 months.

“The reason we’re growing so fast is that we’re not a brick-and-mortar company,” said Rodgers. “It’s all about intelligence. Our investment is in our people, with the vast majority of our staff in engineering — software, mechanical or electrical. We’ve been fortunate to find great talent right here in the Jackson area.”

The company’s initial focus? The energy and utility market, where SmartSynch provides power companies with wireless connections to electric meters. With their solutions, meter readers traipsing through backyards will be an inconvenience of the past.

“In the energy and utility market, this system not only automates the meter reading function, but also monitors power quality and power reliability information, allowing utilities to better serve their customers and offer energy consulting services to their commercial and industrial customers,” said Rodgers.

SmartSynch’s utility client list already includes Boston Edison, Pennsylvania Power & Light, Duke Power, and Florida Power & Light.

Here’s a glimpse at energy and utility solutions: information from the utility customer is transmitted to the M32 transaction management system, which provides connectivity to embedded, mobile and personal assets to an integrated data network for field maintenance, account managers, transmission distribution assets, fleet management, residential, commerce and industry users.

The M32 transaction management system is offered both as an ASP and for direct license into customers’ IT enterprise.

In addition to M32, SmartSynch provides integrated data network services through relationships with major carriers and broadband service providers.

In March, the company partnered with Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution to launch a new wireless automated meter-reading product and service for commercial and industrial customers. SmartSynch also has strategic alliances with Motorola, SkyTel and Lockheed Martin.

The company is branching out into automotive, health care and other markets, Rodgers said.

“In health care, for example, we’re working on the ability for a diabetic to have a glucose meter to transmit blood sugar readers to a physician,” he said. “Not only do health care initiatives like that lower medical costs and provide a better quality of life, it gives peace of mind to family members who may not live in the same town but want to monitor results.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lynne@thewritingdesk or (601) 853-3967.


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