BT sets sights on enterprise

27 Sep 2004

As competition in the residential voice market continues to intensify, meeting the data networking needs of big business will become an increasingly important part of BT’s business both in Ireland and globally, a senior BT boss has said.

“Enterprise is where the money is; the traditional residential market is in trouble,” said Francois Barrault, head of BT International, who has responsibility for all of the telco’s non-UK business. He made the comment during a media briefing at BT’s UK research hub, Adastral Park, last Friday.

Barrault, who joined BT four months ago from Lucent Technologies where he was boss of its European arm, said that BT had successfully reinvented itself as a network-centric IT services provider to large organisations. He said that in Ireland, the company was targeting large multi-site organisations such as the US multinationals, which need to transfer large amounts of data between different locations. Alluding to the deal won earlier this year to manage Bank of Ireland’s network, he said: “This is this sort of business we want to develop.”

The Frenchman added that BT was now offering a growing range of information communications technology (ICT) services to its customers. These include network services (eg managed wide area network and local area network), IT services and applications (eg customer relationship management, managed desktop and portals) and business services (eg business process outsourcing, systems integration and strategy consulting).

He noted that ICT services revenues outside the UK were doubling every year and driving the growth of BT International. Although the latter accounts for 45pc of group revenues today, this proportion is expected to rise to two thirds within three years, said Barrault.

The impetus behind the change in BT’s strategy, he said, was market deregulation in the UK, which introduced competition into the resident telephony market and forced BT to look for new business opportunities. “Thanks to the regulator, we have managed to reinvent ourselves,” he remarked.

Barrault argued that other European countries, including Ireland, needed to deregulate their markets further in order to boost competition. “I would advise incumbent telecom operators to reduce the access cost, be more open to competition and see [deregulation] as a benefit for both their country and their customers.”

By Brian Skelly