UK incumbent BT wants enterprise customers to marvel at the capabilities of its digital transformation unit.
But in true comic-book fashion, the telco knows it can’t save the world from lacklustre digital services on its own, and so it has assembled an elite team of plucky sidekicks to help. Which is an irreverent way of saying that BT has roped in some suppliers to help its forward-thinking Division X division come up with some snazzy ideas for new services.
Somewhat disappointingly given all the crude superhero references, it has been named the Partner Advisory Board (PAB). It was formed earlier this month and held its first meeting this week (pictured below). As well as BT, its founding members comprise Ericsson, Microsoft, IT giant Atos, and auditor PwC.
“The purpose of the PAB is for industry leading companies of all sizes to come together to discuss and share insights and best practices, to examine innovative propositions, and to debate potential solutions to current and future challenges that business leaders are encountering,” said Marc Overton, Division X’s very own Charles Xavier, or to put it another way, managing director of Division X, a unit within BT Enterprise.
The aim is to accelerate the co-creation of digital solutions alongside BT customers, targeted at several verticals including healthcare, logistics, transport and manufacturing, among others.
It’s a win-win, really. BT receives expert insight from heavyweight suppliers without having to spend vast sums of money to further ramp up its own R&D, while the other PAB members benefit from having a closer relationship to one of their customers and an important channel to market.
The PAB’s origin story begins with the enterprise customer charter that BT unveiled in May. In the charter, BT pledged to offer top notch cyber security to smaller businesses, upgrade broadband lines to customers outside its fibre footprint, and be quicker to install and repair connections. It also promised to invest £100 million in Division X, which would use the money to develop new enterprise services in areas like 5G, cloud, edge, IoT and AI. As Overton said this week, he was also tasked with creating “a more structured partnership engagement that would allow us to accelerate our ambitions and co-innovate in a more coordinated way”.
Division X has been busy ever since, and Overton highlighted that it has already developed and launched propositions with its PAB partners.
With Atos, BT launched an AI analytics tool designed to extract insights – and therefore value – from digital images and video. With Microsoft, BT has a strategic alliance deal that covers enterprise voice, cyber security and vertical-specific services in industries like digital manufacturing and health. In May, BT established a multi-year, multi-million pound deal with Ericsson to offer private 5G solutions for the manufacturing, defence, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics sectors. And with PwC, BT offers cloud and digital transformation expertise, and provides industry insights, to help organisations improve productivity, sustainability and asset tracking.
“Over the coming months we plan to welcome even more business partners to the PAB. We’re looking forward to the exciting joint value this can bring, and, in turn, the opportunity we have to build and sustain partners of choice for our 5G, IoT, AI, infrastructure, security and future solutions,” Overton said.