Howard Watson, Chief Executive of BT Technology, Service and Operations, gave a keynote speech at the Nasscom-hosted World Congress on Information Technology 2018 (WCIT) in India, highlighting the challenges and opportunities that digitalisation is presenting to BT as an operator.

  • BT’s head of technology and IT systems reiterated the need for BT to become a more agile, faster moving operation, with that partners needing to be part of the solution.
  • Role of India-based outsourcing praised, but also on notice of changing priorities.

Watson chasing agile model

Greater agility appears to be central to execution of the BT Technology, Service and Operations (BT TSO) TSO 2020 strategy, which is driving the effective convergence of BT’s fixed and mobile infrastructure.

IT development is now expected to take a “human-centred” approach, with results measured against ability to deliver on brand promises made by BT to its customers.

To enable this new approach, Watson acknowledged that much modernisation is required, and that use of agile and DevOps approaches to IT evolution will need to be introduced and finessed as BT attempts to create a UK-India distributed development model.

Watson sees the overhaul of the systems and networks he manages as an opportunity to cut costs, in an attempt to foster a more entrepreneurial approach to developing processes that could save BT money, and create the headroom and fuel for BT to invest in more innovative services.

Watson’s building enthusiasm for agile business models comes as former Boston Consulting Group (BCG) partner Michael Sherman joins the Group’s Executive Committee as Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer, and takes the proportion of senior executives with an engineering background to more than one-third. BTwatch noted on his appointment that the new strategy lead will likely add weight to BT’s push in this direction (BTwatch, #294).

  • It may be worth noting that Watson’s keynote speech and Q&A at WCIT was hosted by Neeraj Aggarwal, Senior Partner and Managing Director for BCG in India.

Watson talks up India’s role in BT success

In front of an audience featuring a substantial contingent of BT’s local IT and business processing outsourcing partners, Watson was positive on India’s ability to provide a well-trained IT workforce, noting that “when I look at where I can find software engineering talent, I get on the plane here”.

However, the gathering enthusiasm within BT for agile working models is presenting a challenge that is yet to be overcome. Watson highlighted that more agile processes are expected to reduce the silo-ing of skills, and that this creates a need to bring software developers more closely into multi-disciplinary teams, and closer to customers — an approach that does not seem suited to software engineering hubs operated thousands of miles away.

The way BT spends its money in India may be changing too, and Watson said the telco is analysing how to transform relationships with IT partners.

  • Watson said BT has 2,000 software engineers in India, and annually spends in the region of £500m with the country’s IT sector.
  • Watson was positive on the emerging startup scene in India, which he said has gained significant traction over the past five-six years, but he also praised BT’s biggest partners. Tech Mahindra was recognised in particular as “our longest and steadiest relationship” that “continues to deliver”.

Watson wants BT to be bold

Asked to identify previous mistakes, Watson suggested there was a tendency within BT to be too cautious, and that he is keen to push for more trials and pilots as new technology develops, with less stringent early requirements for business case and financial approval.

While he made the case for bolder innovation, Watson also acknowledged the challenges of cutting through the hype to understand which new technologies are worth backing.

Citing the Gartner Hype Cycle, he noted that blockchain is only just coming over the peak of the inflated expectations curve, with industry hopes and the technology’s capabilities on the way towards aligning.

He also referenced BT enthusiasm for quantum security, which it has been pursuing for several years, and is expected to come to the fore as the key mode of encryption over the next 15 years.

“ We live in a world where we have to make incremental change towards a revolutionary goal. ” — Watson.

Incumbent problems in a rapidly evolving world

As the roles of CTO and CIO merge, Watson noted challenges from two ends of the spectrum that BT faces.

Firstly, in a modern network environment, it is a struggle to keep on top of faults and problems. Watson acknowledged that, with crowdsourced services such as Down Detector able to report quickly on any problems, consumers may know about network faults before staff at BT’s network operations centres become aware of them — the traditional approach of polling the network every 15 minutes to check for problems “doesn’t work anymore”.

Meanwhile, legacy infrastructure poses other problems that cannot be easily addressed by the application of new technology, and continues to mean network management is labour intensive and immune to automation. Watson gave the example of the main distribution frame across the UK that still requires, should a customer choose to switch network partner, physical intervention by an engineer to make the switch, re-soldering (“yes, solder”) the connection to the new network.

Image: Nasscom Events.

Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

  • Keeping MBNL close…

5G research

BT and Ericsson update on network slicing trials… [p6]

  • The roaming drones
  • Unmanned Life representing for TEAC

… Ericsson re-ups BT economic research on slicing [p7]

  • Automation, automation, automation
  • Keeping up standards
  • BT won’t risk ‘build it and they will come’ approach
  • BT aims to share out slices
  • Not everyone convinced on slicing
  • Insight into BT 5G goals

BT participates in UK 5G testbeds [p10]

  • BT networks to underpin Cisco’s RuralFirst
  • Bristol remains a 5G testbed hotbed
  • Table 1: Overview of six 5G research projects launched by DCMS
  • BT research with Worcestershire source

BT TSO

Watson talks transformation within BT’s core [p12]

  • Watson chasing agile model
  • Watson talks up India’s role in BT success
  • Watson wants BT to be bold
  • Incumbent problems in a rapidly evolving world

Pensions

  • BT reaches union deals on pensions
  • BT reaches union deals on pensions, cont’d…
  • Federated to buy 60% of Hermes

People

  • Table 2: People movement highlights
  • High-profile Hanif heads for the door

CONSUMER/EE

BT Mobile

BT Mobile adds 4G and Wi-Fi calling [p18]

ESN

  • Pace of ESN rollout slows
  • ESN software and solutions ready for implementation
  • Under new management
  • Testing times for ESN
  • Hillier puts a rocket up Home Office

Networks

EE trumpets progress with 4G coverage [p20]

  • Key points of latest EE upgrade

Table 3: UK 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction results, April 2018

Spectrum

BT pays going rate for new 3.4GHz spectrum [p21]

  • Table 4: Current UK total mobile spectrum holdings
  • Table 5: UK 3.4GHz spectrum allocations, April 2018
  • BT lead diluted
  • BT pays a little more for its allocation pick
  • Operators paying over the odds

ENTERPRISE

Management update

BT boldly goes for new Enterprise approach [p24]

  • Efficiency and accountability to be Enterprise watchwords
  • Sutherland leaves as division prepares for leap forward
  • Table 6: BT Group divisional leadership, evolution, 2015-2018
  • Changing of the guard complete

InLink

BT rolls out 100th InLinkUK from BT kiosk [p27]

GLOBAL SERVICES

Contracts

BT secures EUR50m air traffic control contract [p30]Security

ZTE hit by GCHQ warnings [p31]The end of a tentative relationship?

  • Worries expressed about Cisco vulnerabilities
  • Table 7: Cybersecurity Tech Accord signatories

BT signs up for global cyber-alliance [p33]

OPENREACH

Dark fibre

Openreach launches grey fibre, as Ofcom retreats from dark [p35]

  • Infrastructure investors unite in welcoming news
  • Openreach’s new shades of grey

Fibre

  • LGA calls for national FTTP Kitemark scheme

Operations

  • Openreach edges forward with PSTN shutdown
  • BT the bad boy of London streetworks; contractors taking the rap

Openreach aiming for better relations through OTA work [p37]

  • QubeGB stepping in to support Openreach

Regulatory

Government moves forward with 10Mbps USO plans [p39]

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

A

Accenture 25
ADVA Optical Networking 35
Advertising Standards Authority 19
Airspan Spectrum 21
Alphabet
– – Google
– Android 18, 27
– – Sidewalk Labs
– Intersection 27
Apple
– – iPhone 18
Aviva 15

B

Boston Consulting Group 12
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 10, 11
BT Group 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 24, 26, 31, 38
– – Asia
– Tech Mahindra 13
– – BT Consumer 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26
– BT Mobile 18
– BT Wi-Fi 26
– Next Generation Text Relay 27
– – BT Enterprise
– BT Business & Public Sector 15, 24, 25, 26
– BT Directories 15
– BT Wholesale & Ventures 24, 26, 27, 38
– InLinkUK 27
– – BT Global Services 15, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
– BT Americas 15
– BT Global Financial Services 15
– BT International 31
– BT Radianz 30
– BT Security 15, 31, 33
– – BT Pension Fund
– Hermes Pension Management 13
– – BT Pension Scheme 12
– – BT Retail 15, 18
– – BT Technology, Service and Operations 9, 12, 15, 26
– Adastral Park 32
– – Directors
– du Plessis, Jan 26
– Hoettges, Timotheus 14
– Rake, Sir Michael 26
– – EE 6, 10, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 38
– 4G Calling 18
– Emergency Services Network 15, 19
– MBNL 6
– – Executives
– Allera, Marc 15, 22, 24, 26
– Bird, Matt 27
– Burger, Bas 26, 30
– Chanmugam, Tony 26
– Cuevas, Maria 7
– Hall, Matt 19
– Hanotte, Christophe 15
– Hendricks, Mark 15
– Hughes, Mark 31
– Lowth, Simon 26
– McQuade, Gerry 24, 26
– McRae, Neil 9
– Meller, Hila 15
– Oliver, Pete 15
– Patterson, Gavin 13, 24, 26
– Philips, Barbara 15
– Pol, Chuck 15
– Ribeiro, Jayme 15
– Roberts, Lindsey 15
– Selley, Clive 26, 32
– Sherman, Michael 12
– Sutherland, Graham 24, 26
– Watson, Howard 9, 12, 15, 26
– – Ex-executives
– Alvarez, Luis 26
– Garner, Joseph 26
– Hanif, Mansoor 15
– Petter, John 26
– Stagg, Nigel 26
– – Openreach 26, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
– – Products and services
– SmartTalk 18

C

Cambridge Communication Systems 10
CA Technologies 15, 33
Cisco Systems, Inc. 10, 11, 32, 33
CityFibre 35, 36
CK Hutchison 21, 22
– – Three Group
– Three UK 6, 21, 22
Communications Workers Union 12, 13
Competition Appeal Tribunal 35
Computer Sciences Corp 15
Cybersecurity Tech Accord 33

D

Dell EMC 33
Deutsche Telekom 14
Dixons Carphone 18

E

Ericsson 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 32
EUROCONTROL 30
European Union
– – European Commission 36

F

Facebook 10, 33
Federated Investors 13
F-Secure 33

G

Gartner Group 14
GlaxoSmithKline 15
Google 27
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, UK) 31, 32

H

HBF 36
Hewlett-Packard 33
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 15
Home Builders Federation 36
Home Office (UK) 19, 20
House of Commons
– – Public Accounts Committee 19, 20
HP Inc 15, 33
Huawei
– – Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre 31
Huawei Technologies 10, 11, 31, 32

J

Juniper Networks 33

L

Liberty Global
– – Virgin Media 35, 36, 38
Lime Microsystems 10, 11
LinkedIn 15, 33
Liverpool City Council 11
Local Government Association 36

M

Microsoft 11, 33
Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL) 6
Motorola 20
Motorola Solutions
– – Airwave 20
MSCI 13

N

National Audit Office 19
National Health Service (NHS, UK) 11
Nokia 10, 32, 33
Northern Ireland Civil Service 25

O

Ofcom 18, 21, 22, 35, 36, 39
– – USO 36, 39
– – Wholesale Line Rental 37
Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (UK) 37
– – OTA2 37
Oracle 25, 33
Orange 22

P

Pace Micro Technology 19
Parallel Wireless 10, 11
Primesight 27
pureLiFi 10, 11

Q

QinetiQ 11
Quickline 11
Quortus 11

S

Samsung 18
SAP AG 33
Swisscom 13
Symantec 31, 33

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 38
Tech Mahindra 13
Technology
– – 2G 18
– – 3G 18
– – 5G 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 21, 22, 32
– – ADSL 37
– – ATM 27
– – Blockchain 14
– – Broadband 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 36, 38
– – Ethernet 35, 38
– – Fibre 11, 35, 36, 38, 39
– Dark fibre 35
– Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 36
– – Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 36
– – GSM 8, 18, 22
– – HD 18
– – Internet of Things 10
– – IP 27, 30, 37
– – LTE 18, 19
– – M2M 9
– – mmWave 11
– – Multicasting 19
– – PSTN 37
– – UMTS 18
– – VDSL 37
– – Wi-Fi 11, 18, 26, 27
Telecom Infra Project 10, 15
– – TEAC 6
Telefónica 10, 11, 18, 21, 22, 33
– – O2 UK 21, 22
Thames Water 38
Transport for London 38
Trend Micro 33
Twitter 22

U

University of Strathclyde 10, 11
Unmanned Life 6

V

Verizon Communications 6, 9
VMware 33
Vodafone 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 38
– – UK 20, 21, 22, 38

Z

Zayo Group 35
Zeetta Networks 10, 11
ZTE 31, 32

About

About BTwatch

Report: #295
Published: April 2018
Next report: May 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch