BT Means Business with Renewed Enterprise Push

Earlier in May, BT Enterprise hosted an event for the media at its new London headquarters, where CEO Rob Shuter presented a new slogan, unveiled BT Enterprise’s Customer Charter and pledged investment of £100 million over three years into its new Division X unit.

A central message was that BT can be a springboard to growth for UK businesses, which are increasingly seeking to use new digital opportunities but are also facing mounting macroeconomic problems such as rising energy prices and higher inflation.

It also showed BT’s ambition to search for growth opportunities of its own, beyond connectivity. This is crucial for the under-pressure Enterprise unit; it saw revenue slip another 5% in the final quarter of its fiscal 2021/22, partly dragged by continued declines in older products (see Instant Insight: BT Results, Fiscal 4Q21/22).

A multimillion-pound advertising campaign will promote the slogan, BT Means Business. It forms the latest stage of the company’s wider brand strategy, which will see BT used mostly for business customers, with EE becoming the flagship brand in the consumer market (see Instant Insight: BT Announces Consumer Branding Shift).

The new charter aims to reflect the priorities of BT’s 1.2 million business and public sector customers. It makes four main promises: to fast-track technology innovation; to be easier to do business with; to be trusted experts; and to make a positive contribution to society.

Division X was created in BT Enterprise earlier in 2022 to accelerate development of new services for larger companies — including emerging technologies such as the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, edge computing, 5G and cloud services. Headed by former Sierra Wireless executive Marc Overton, it is targeting sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, transport and logistics.

An important focus for the new investment in Division X is healthcare; this segment was prominent in BT’s new Aurora customer innovation showcase, the opening of which coincided with the event. One demonstration that caught my eye was a backpack that serves as a mobile medical station, offering support to local communities and people living in remote locations. It’s equipped with an electrocardiogram, digital stethoscope and video technology, and is being trialled with a hospital trust and ambulance trust in the West Midlands.

Other demonstrations in the Aurora showcase included a smart city data exchange platform that collects, aggregates and analyses data from multiple sources through cameras and IoT sensors; a 5G remote-controlled robotic arm working in tandem with a virtual reality headset; 3D holographic technology that can improve manufacturing processes or enable virtual offices; and drone-led solutions to assist in areas such as medical deliveries in hard-to-reach places.

BT also promoted its cybersecurity credentials. It says it’s the largest player in the UK market and employs about 3,000 professionals globally. It demonstrated the Security Assessment Framework for Enterprises (SAFE) platform, that offers a “health check” of the security defences of large companies and public sector organizations. The company was granted rights to use and sell SAFE after BT became a major shareholder in US firm Safe Security in 2021. Also showcased was cyber-defence platform Eagle-i, which launched in 2021 and uses artificial intelligence and automation tools to detect and neutralize security threats, protecting BT’s global operations.

An important part of the new charter was committing to small businesses. This is fast emerging as a major battleground for UK operators, accelerated not just by the pandemic but also fresh competition from new entrants including Three and Sky.

BT promised to create a new partnership network for small businesses, offering a range of exclusive benefits, and named the Federation of Small Businesses as its first launch partner. It also said it’s developing technology to boost broadband speeds for small firms not yet served by fibre, by fusing fixed-line and 4G connections. And BT’s stepping up its free digital training programme for small businesses; almost 600,000 owners and employees have benefited so far.

At the event, BT exhibited its recently launched Digital Marketing Hub, an online advertising platform to help small companies expand their reach and target new customers. A demonstration showed how to create, publish and measure campaigns throughout Google, Facebook and Instagram. BT said that research shows 40% of UK small businesses, about 2.4 million, aren’t yet using paid digital media advertising.

With new investment, clarity on its brand, an updated set of commitments and a wealth of new technology, BT Enterprise was keen to show it really does mean business. Turning its fortunes around won’t be easy amid continued uncertainty for UK businesses, but the unit appears to have a clear vision for its path to recovery.