BT Resets the Partner Clock

BT Resets the Partner Clock

Philip Purssey

Talking with Philip Purssey was more like turning back the clock than resetting it for the first few minutes; it seemed we had both had the same jobs at one time. In the 1980s both of us were Field Sales Managers for BT, he in Birmingham, myself in London and both been through the same training programme at their Bournemouth Management College. It also turns out that we both worked for Sue Davidson who is now SVP at Viatel.

At BT Davidson moved rapidly up the food chain to establish their SMB Business. After some metamorphosis the SMB unit is now, in essence, the BT Business division currently headed up by Bill Murphy, who in turn is now Purssey’s boss. With me so far?

Many observers would say that the last six months or so have seen BT undertake

some introspection with regards to their channel relationships and Purssey tends to agree.

“We are through a period of self assessment and analysis on how we can add value with channel partnerships and looking forward to being far more proactive. 2006 is the year in which we have to grow our revenues. BT has been battling with transition strategies that have seen us transform our income streams from traditional revenues to those based more on ICT propositions. I have a view that says it is going to be very difficult indeed to grow our revenues without the channel.

“Partners bring BT speed, reach and expertise and customers, both in SMEs and Enterprise like dealing with channel partners. We recognise that and this is why BT is committed to a multichannel strategy designed to meet those revenue growth challenges.”

Purssey continues, “Many will have seen from our latest set of financial results that our new wave revenues are growing at 40% a year. These are a great set of results but far from the finished article. I believe that BT is now hitting all the right spots when it comes to products and applications. Over 90% of the UK will have access to broadband at speeds of between 2-8Meg and this will enable UK business to improve productivity as well as introduce new applications.”

IPTV is seen by Purssey as a new and exciting opportunity and here BT is set to launch BT Vision in the autumn. BT Vision will, via a set-top box, deliver video on demand to home and business via high-speed broadband.

“I see a real possibility for channels to become involved in the delivery of the technology to business where closed user groups sharing bespoke content for information and training will be a key application. What I like about channels is that they are very agile and innovative in their approach to doing business.”

With regard to developing channel activity in fixed mobile convergence (FMC) Purssey notes the success of BT Fusion and the launch of a business version.

“BT is looking at pulling together a proposition that will have the right drivers for business. VoIP is about services and right now we are seeing the first shoots of great services emerge in the shape of BT Vision, BT Fusion and the newly announced Wired City initiatives where we are installing metropolitan wireless networks across all the major UK cities. Applications for these initiatives are likely to come not just from BT but also from innovative third party organisations”.

2006 will see Purssey put on smaller, more focussed regional reseller events rather than an out of country reseller jamboree.

“We will be running focus workshops for around ten partners at a time on a quarterly basis that will include our service as well as sales teams. The key question we need to ask of our partners each time is ‘what is it BT needs to do be successful? Is it products, applications and service?”

Purssey is circumspect when it comes to discussing the recent changes to the BT reseller program that saw many resellers depart their direct relationship with the company.

“We had to take tough, big decisions and actually, the feedback we had from the channel was very positive. Only three complaints were received and we ensured that any reseller affected still had a positive route back in to BT via one of our distributors.

At the same time we also committed to growing our support resources for the channel and to engage with partners to see what we both needed to do to be successful. You could say that BT has reset the clock with partners and very important for the channel to understand that we want an inclusive approach and strategy. Our ambitions are aligned to those of the channel.”

 
www.bt.com