Features & opinions | BT, Philip Jansen

DTWS: BT’s Philip Jansen promotes partnering

August 18, 2022 | DTW news room

BT CEO Philip Jansen explains why he believes new approaches to partnership and investments in fiber, 5G and digital transformation can finally deliver revenue growth.

Jansen spoke during the opening keynotes of  TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World Series on September 22.

Like many communications service providers (CSPs), BT’s financial performance has been disappointing in recent years, but Jansen believes growth is within sight. CapEx has not delivered the desired returns, he said. “I think there is an opportunity … for BT and other telcos to deliver decent returns in the future, where maybe we haven’t done in the past.”

Jansen’s optimism stems from several sources, including his conviction that people are looking for “better, faster, more coordinated connectivity and…are willing to pay more for it” and now have experience of using online services in fields such as healthcare.

Becoming a ‘super-aggregator’ & partner

Like its industry peers, BT is investing in fiber and 5G networks and is undertaking a massive digital transformation not only to provide new services, but also to enable new partnerships and change how it serves customers.

“I think there is this role for us as the super-aggregator, the universal adapter to help you navigate all the cognitive connectivity challenges, questions, opportunities and manage risks, whether you’re in the home or whether you’re in businesses whether it’s…global or based in the UK, or indeed Openreach,” said Jansen.

Jansen took up his role as CEO of BT in January 2019, having previously been the co-CEO of Worldpay, an American payment processing company and technology provider. One of the lessons he took away from his time there was the importance of partnering.

“WorldPay … was a great partner organization. All the top companies had huge partnerships with us to get benefits for everybody,” said Jansen. “That model is going to happen to BT,” he added, pointing to what he described as BT’s recent “important strategic partnership with Microsoft”. In July this year, BT and Microsoft announced they would collaborate on enterprise voice, cybersecurity and industry-focused services in sectors from manufacturing to health.

“We’re moving [that partnering] on to the next stage, and…doing more and more partnerships that are good for everybody,” said Jansen. “I’m used to working in a world where you compete and collaborate, often with the same people. And you’ve got to live in that world, and it’s not easy. So, given that maturity needs to evolve at BT, but we’re heading down that path at a real pace now.”

One of the key differences between Worldpay and BT, however, is the pace of change.

“The frustration for me is characterized by the lack of speed…at BT compared to a company like WorldPay,” Jansen explained. “So that’s what I’m trying to change, and that’s why I need people who are used to working quickly, failing fast and…working in a dynamic way iterative way. It’s much more nuanced than Waterfall and Agile… It’s about problem solving; it’s about making progress and answering big problems and solving things for the customer.”

Partnerships will also play a role in helping BT build a more “componentized, modular, flexible, nimble architecture,” said Jansen, with the aim of “completely upgrading the interface with our customers with new exciting services, which maybe we haven’t done as well as we would have liked before.”