BT’s digital chief boasts 90% IT estate shrinkage

EE CEO Marc Allera takes to the DTW24 stage in Copenhagen with BT's CDIO Harmeen Mehta.

EE CEO Marc Allera takes to the DTW24 stage in Copenhagen with BT's CDIO Harmeen Mehta.

  • BT chief digital and innovation officer Harmeen Mehta was one of the keynote speakers on the opening day of this year’s DTW Ignite, the TM Forum’s annual event
  • She took to the stage with Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer unit EE, to talk about the ‘New EE’
  • Underpinning the initiative is a massive consolidation of the UK telco’s IT estate and a massive simplification of the customer plans offered by EE
  • The move is underpinning EE’s super app ambitions, which Allera claims is a major success only nine months in

COPENHAGEN – DTW24 Ignite – For years, telcos have been dreaming of retiring legacy IT systems and migrating to simpler, streamlined, cloud-friendly software systems that will make their lives (and those of their customers) easier and improve their financials at the same time. BT’s chief digital and innovation officer Harmeen Mehta took to the keynote stage here today to say she is living the dream. 

According to Mehta, BT has shrunk its IT estate from more than 1,500 complex, standalone IT systems to just a few hundred cloud-based applications. “We’re shutting 90% of our legacy systems and running a new model based on a platform approach” to support the New EE, which was unveiled in London last October. 

In a nutshell, the New EE approach is to offer a single digital location (a super app) that offers a broad range of products and services from EE and third parties so that users of the app – who don’t have to be subscribers to an EE mobile or fixed connectivity service – can get what they want, when they want it, in one place, whether it is an app, a gaming service, a technology product with associated insurance and more – see BT’s EE unveils its super app.

That approach would be impossible to manage using legacy IT systems, including traditional OSS and BSS tools not developed for a new-age digital service provider, so a large-scale refresh and approach to back-office operations was required and that, according to Mehta, is what has been achieved, with BT, for example, having consolidated from 35 different billing systems to just one. “It is platform thinking come to life,” boasted the CDIO, noting that the same platform and tools could also be used to manage business as well as consumer services.

The result, according to Mehta and Allera, is that EE has also massively shrunk the number of service plans it is offering to customers, from tens of thousands to just 100, though now all of those plans can be personalised by each customer to suit their needs. It has also, noted Allera, cut the time it takes to get a new service or product to market by 70%: Mehta says the average time now is just 90 days and getting shorter all of the time. 

And all of this effort isn’t for nothing. According to Allera, 10 million users have signed up to the New EE ID app and 3,500 products have been added to the digital store that those users can access. EE has 25 million customers, according to BT, so there is plenty of room for growth.

But as has been mentioned, the New EE isn’t just for existing connectivity service customers. So how many of that 10 million are users who, currently, do not subscribe to an EE mobile or fixed broadband service? The official response from BT is vague: “Since New EE went live, we’re [aiming] to grow non-subscribers to 10% of our EE ID base,” stated a spokesperson for the operator. 

If there are any users of the new super app who are not EE service subscribers, that would be a positive result, as it gives the operator a chance to market those users directly with the mobile and broadband offerings, so in theory it should all be an upside. But it might be a while before such metrics are shared in BT’s earnings report.. 

For Mehta and her team, though, the IT transformation is a significant achievement and should, in theory, open the door for greater operational and service innovation from this point on – now, for the New EE, there’s no excuse for being held back by the legacy IT burden that has been blamed for so much inaction in the past. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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