Newsbyte talks to ... Hubertus von Roenne
Hubertus von Roenne is VP Global Industry Practices, BT Global Services
Hubertus, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I would like to kick-off by asking you to tell us about BT’s Global Industry Practices please
Sure. Our industry-specific activities across BT Global Services consist of two different areas: We have a portfolio of industry-specific propositions we sell to our customers, and secondly, we have ten industry practices, or 'verticals', in which we organise all our knowledge and expertise about industry ecosystems.
As BT wants to play a leading role in the digital transformation that’s happening pretty much in every single industry - where whole business ecosystems are changing around this digital revolution - we need to understand the key business challenges of each industry really well, to be able to create and sell highly-relevant ICT solutions.
How did you arrive at the ten industry verticals?
We started by analysing our customer base and then applied (with slight adaptation) the ICB industry classification taxonomy launched by Dow Jones and FTSE and used by most banks and analysts. Our ten ’industry practices’ or ’verticals’ are: Banking (Global Banking & Financial Markets); Government; Healthcare & Life Sciences; Retail & Consumer Goods; Energy & Resources; Travel, Transport & Logistics; Automotive; Manufacturing; Technology; and Media & Business Services. Every one of our customers is part of at least one, if not several, of these industry groupings.
So how many people are involved and where are they based?
Our people are located around the globe, in the UK, US, Italy, South Africa, Singapore and various other countries. Our largest industry communities or ’Centres of Excellence’ have more than 200 people – altogether about 800 people active in our industry practices.
I can understand why it makes sense for GS to take a ‘vertical’, industry-specific view of the customer base but why is the GIP approach important for customers, what do they get out of it?
Well, I think we need to take a look at the challenging situation that all of our customers are in – As I mentioned, they are in the middle of a digital transformation which means that a lot of their processes and their customers’ expectations are changing. Our industry-specific approach helps us gain the insight we need to better understand the issues our customers face. Business models are changing through the use of technology and hence the role of the CIO is also changing. Gartner says that by 2017, at least 50% of a company’s IT budget will be spent by the business units of a company. We want to help the CIOs to drive the digital transformation in their companies.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the solutions that you offer to customers?
There are five groups of solutions:
The first one focuses on the Digital Consumer – We’re removing the distinction between the online and offline worlds, bringing the online experience into the offline world, the ‘bricks and mortar’ world with our DigitalStore solutions. They include instore wi-fi, digital signage, intelligent fitting rooms and RFID-enabled inventory management.
The second one is Digital Banking – We’ve been deeply embedded in the banking sector for a long time with our financial trading systems. The banking sector is going through a massive transformation so, together with some of our customers, we’re developing a solution for the future digital bank.
The third one is Workforce Mobility – We’ve developed specific industry solutions for the workforce in police, logistics and healthcare. We use mobile solutions to exchange real-time data between people out in the field and people or systems back in the office. This improves the operational efficiency of both the mobile workforce and the people in the back office.
Then we’re developing a range of solutions around the Internet of Things (IoT) and specifically around the industrial side of this – the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). We are engaged in ‘smart city’ activities. Milton Keynes is our flagship project but we are also moving into the energy and mining areas and providing IIoT solutions to increase operational efficiencies in very complex, industrial environments.
And the last one is building more Digital Business Ecosystems – bringing together some of our core functions on top of our ‘cloud of clouds’ strategy. A lot of that is concerned with real-time collaboration.
Climate change has been in the news a lot recently, what role do telcos like BT have to play with regard to that issue?
BT was one of the first companies to achieve its target to be using 100% renewable energy in the UK (in 2012). And we know that ICT is one of the key enablers to reduce carbon emissions. I was at the COP21 conference in Paris recently, where I spoke on the importance of ICT solutions to address the aggressive CO2 reduction targets of most industries. It became clear to me that our customers are looking for guidance on how to apply ICT in support of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.
What do you think is the next big technology trend that telcos should be investing in?
The next ‘buzzword’ is probably algorithms. It goes back to data analytics which is being discussed very widely at the moment. Telcos will play a vital role in managing data in the future, obviously on the back of our existing assets. So I think that telcos have to be very aware of the role algorithms and data analytics will play in the future and we have to invest in understanding and integrating some of that knowledge into our IoT solutions.
OK thank you. And finally, what would you say is going to be the main challenge in GIP over the next 12-24 months?
Probably not having enough hours in the day. But aside from that, the biggest challenge in this highly complex, digital world is to build our own ecosystem of partners, both large and small. BT will play a vital role but we will play that role more efficiently and successfully if we do it together with partners. And I personally believe in the importance of ICT in tackling climate challenge.
Thanks very much for your time Hubertus.