Blog · 10 Dec 2020

Finding the Goldilocks moment for growth

Bas Burger reflects on the symbolic moment for BT’s Global unit as it draws a line under its first wave of transformation.

Today we announced an agreement with Telecom Italia for the sale of part of the domestic operations of BT Italia.

This is a milestone in a journey that BT Italia has been on for the past three years, transforming itself into a strong, stable business with an enviable portfolio of SME and public sector customers.

This is also a symbolic moment for BT’s Global unit as it draws a line under its first wave of transformation and plans to pivot to growth — in a sector where growth has proved elusive.

In September 2018 we told the market that we would do three things: radically reposition our business around our core markets, build value in strategically selected areas of growth and reduce risk while delivering higher returns. This amounted to a plan to simplify our operations, which we did. Partly by focusing on a core set of multinational customers, partly by simplifying and modernising our portfolio and partly by defining a clear path to predictable financial performance and ultimately double digit returns on our capital employed.

Divesting many of our purely domestic operations was part of this plan and we have now done this in over twenty countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Singapore, China and 15 countries in Latin America. Most of the divested entities have become part of our global ecosystem of partners and channels. And the colleagues moving to new employers, such as Evolutio in Spain, Sincenet in Latin America and Computacenter in France, remain part of our constellation of expertise – now at one-step remove – and our circle of gratitude for their decades of service.

The journey does not end there as these targeted divestments help accelerate the execution of BT’s Global strategy. If anything, the focus on streamlining our global business on the rapidly evolving technology needs of multinationals and governments around the world has become even sharper.

We have scale, delivering services in over 180 countries as we did before – this time with fewer but bigger customers, a leaner but smarter digital product portfolio and higher productivity. In short, we are priming ourselves for growth – profitable, sustainable growth on the back of a new business model, a digitally native technology stack, a recently reinvigorated reputation for standout customer experience and a highly skilled workforce.

Finding the right moment to move into growth mode is more of an art than a science. It depends on as many external as internal factors — and knowing exactly when to press the button for growth is a tough call. As we conclude the first wave of our transformation, we know that there is more to do, more to learn and more to deliver for our customers in these challenging times.

Getting into good shape is just one step on the way. Growing in the right areas at the right speed and with the right focus is the next. It is a Goldilocks moment and that is where we are heading alongside our customers, our strategic partners and our teams around the world.