A glimpse in to the future of BT at Wired Smarter

Posted 11th October 2018 by John Needham

We went to Wired Smarter earlier this week which took place in Kings Cross, London. As expected from Wired, the line up was first class with keynotes and fireside talks from the likes of Will Shu, CEO of Deliveroo, and Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon. It as a great event with lots of views expressed as to how disruptive technologies can transform a range of business sectors.

One of the talks we attended was an interview with Colm O’Neil, the Managing Director of Major and Public Sector at BT.

Colm offered some frank insights in to how BT has changed over the last ten years. He talked about how BT might have got things wrong with the sale of O2 in 2002, and how today management has returned to BT’s core principle of having the UK’s best telecoms network. BT’s 2016 acquisition of EE has helped them to achieved this goal, and it’s from this platform they can build out their offering in more disruptive spaces like IoT.

He also offered a view on how MegaCorp’s like BT can build businesses with NewCos. In relation to BT, his belief is that acquisition has to play a part in any transformative MegaCorp strategy; but pre-acquisition, MegaCorps have an incentive to help NewCo businesses within their ecosystem to scale to a point where they are offering real market value.

Today, big Telecoms and IT vendors are more likely to partner with, or take a stake in, NewCos to accelerate both businesses for mutual benefit in the first instance. To this end, BT has a Ventures arm and employs scouts in Silicon Valley to advise the company on Startups and Scaleups.

It was a refreshing discussion that gave us a new perspective on BT. Colm gave us a glimpse in to the future, which continued in York Hall’s gallery space with demonstrations of BT’s R&D in neural networks, image recognition and smart cities tools.

It looks like there might be some exciting times ahead for BT.

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