Home5GBT to invest £100m to put UK enterprises in ‘digital fast lane’ and ‘soup-up security’

BT to invest £100m to put UK enterprises in ‘digital fast lane’ and ‘soup-up security’

UK telecoms group BT has revealed a ‘charter’ to invest almost £100 million over the next three years in its new Division X digital change unit, which is at the heart of its broader strategy to establish itself as a ‘tech-co’ (“not a telco”), offering sundry IoT 5G, AI, and IoT technologies in flexible edge-cloud combinations to spur “industries like” manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and healthcare.

The new charter sets out BT’s strategy to provide its private enterprise and public sector customers – which number 1.2 million in the UK, it says – with an edge-to-cloud “springboard” to “fuel innovation”, and, as per its list of target verticals, industrial revolution, as defined in the Industry 4.0 bible. The launch coincides with new delineation within the group, with EE now pitched squarely to everyday punters, and BT on its own as the business brand.

BT has launched a big brand campaign, under the header ‘BT Means Business’, across major UK platforms. Meanwhile, the launch also coincides with the opening of a new innovation showcase at its new headquarters in London. The facility puts focus on its R&D efforts for enterprises, including around 5G (and private 5G), IoT, robotics, and AI – “and how these can be applied across key industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and smart cities”.

The firm said it has committed, as well, to upskilling UK enterprises (“UK PLC”), with 600,000-odd small business owners and staff helped put through their paces already, and 350,000 more “set to benefit”. Other commitments include: new cyber defence tools (“not offered by other providers”); better broadband for small firms; rapid broadband installs and repairs; a SME partnership network; various marketing and mobile offers; plus a focus on helping enterprises deliver on their new sustainability commitments. 

The charter identifies four priorities for enterprises, and for enterprise service provision: tech innovation, expert support; easy client service (to put enterprises “into the digital fast lane and soup up security”), and purpose-driven solutions. BT told Enterprise IoT Insights in March BT is shaping-up as a ‘tech-co’, rather than a conventional telco, for the design, build, and management of new digital infrastructure. 

Rob Shuter, chief executive of BT’s enterprise division in the UK, said at the time: “We are more on the tech-co managed service-provider side. And I’ve always said to my team, we need to be able to ‘prime’.” It is a point of difference, he suggested, with more consumer-oriented UK providers, with neither the existing enterprise base, nor the sales engines, to go after the corporate-sized private 5G market in robust fashion. 

Shuter said BT Enterprise – like OBS, T-Systems, and Vodafone Business, most obviously, among its European counterparts – is working outside of the old carrier discipline, by nature. “We can pick it up in three ways: priming, partnering, and pull through. Other telcos are not going to invest in the prime. Look, it is expensive stuff. I mean, hiring like 120 people to do that – a smaller telco can’t afford that.”

He went on: “[And] we are not a telco in the sense we are selling the infrastructure; you can see it in the numbers. There is a billion pounds of revenue from managed services in my business. We are running big end-to-end contracts for big customers. That would not be the same for certain others – which are more like telcos.

BT’s new Division X, part of its UK enterprise faculty (different to BT Global Services, offering the same private 5G and IoT combo to multinationals), is “designed to prime”. Marc Overton, a veteran of Orange’s old dealer channel, has rejoined the firm from Sierra Wireless to lead the Division X team. “Division X has three purposes: to do the solution selling and integration of 5G, IoT, and edge; to run a vertical for us in healthcare; and to manage our legacy ventures-investment portfolio,” said Shuter.

Speaking about the new charter, Shuter commented: “Right now, our key industries are on the cusp of a technological revolution as the UK prepares to make the large-scale switch from analogue to fully digital ways of working. Only businesses which make the leap will succeed and stay competitive – our role is to help them navigate that journey. It’s an ideal time for us to set out why BT really means business. 

“Our new charter reflects the priorities that our 1.2 million business and public customers expect to see from BT. We’ve listened to their feedback and based our charter on four key promises – that we’ll lead the way in innovation; we’ll be trusted experts in our fields; we’ll be easier to do business with; and we’ll continue to put purpose at the heart of our business.”

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