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Only your imagination is a limit to what technology is capable of today

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25 April 2016

Global Services

Blogs by author: Global Services, We’re a leading global business communications provider

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In February 2016, Fabrice De Windt was appointed CEO of BT’s Benelux organisation. Fabrice is Belgian but has spent the past five years working internationally, serving some of BT’s biggest customers around the globe.

In his previous role, Fabrice was responsible for BT’s financial services customers in Europe and before that held a global sales management role. In other words, Fabrice comes from the front-line trenches, where he has had first-hand experience helping large enterprises deal with the challenges of digital transformation. We asked Fabrice about his perspective on the market’s major trends – and how BT is responding.

Digital transformation driving the agenda

You have worked with some of BT’s biggest customers around the globe. What keeps them up at night?

Fabrice De Windt: Digital transformation is a key priority for nearly all our customers.  New tech-enabled business models are disrupting every industry. Uber has become the largest taxi company in the world but doesn’t own a single taxi. Airbnb is the largest short-stay accommodation provider in the world but doesn’t own a single property. Our customers are now urgently looking at their own digital transformation and in many cases fundamentally rethinking the way they interact with their customers. At BT we’re exceptionally well positioned to help our customers during that transformation process.  That makes it a great place to work currently.

Why is BT so well positioned with regard to digital transformation?

Fabrice De Windt: The paradox for IT at present is that they have to do so much more with less. IT budgets have been under pressure for several years but, simultaneously, the business requirements are more demanding than ever.

Fabrice De Windt – CEO of BT’s Benelux organisation
Fabrice De Windt
CEO of BT’s Benelux organisation

On the one hand the role of IT is to deliver a more efficient business operation, but on the other hand the business is crying out for innovation. At BT we can help in both these areas. With regard to the day-to-day running of IT infrastructure we are in an excellent position to do this more efficiently but also more effectively. We can reduce costs and improve quality of service. And that frees up resources which can be invested in digital transformation.

Our Cloud of Clouds portfolio strategy where we integrate different cloud services in a single control pane is our key differentiator.

Customers can pick and choose services from different providers depending on where they are in the transformation process. BT brings all these services together under a single security wrap and replaces a bundle of SLAs with just one. Our network capability is the so-called spider in the web. It allows customers to make ubiquitous connections to various services, whether delivered from their own datacenters, of from BT’s cloud (e.g. unified communications or contact centre services), or from partners in our ecosystem (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft).

Digital transformation is a key priority for nearly all our customers. 

Disruption: from theory to reality

Technology disruption is not a new phenomenon.  Why do you think digital transformation has become such an urgent topic lately?

Fabrice De Windt: Simply put, the technology is currently available to enable such transformation. In the past, much of the ‘disruption’ was theoretical; now there are huge opportunities in so many different areas. For example, we recently helped one of our insurance clients develop a model where they are able to conduct claims assessments using mobile video. In this way, claims adjustors do not have to travel to the customer’s location every time; instead, they can assess the damage through real time video. Another example: one of our banking customers analysed payment traffic in a city during a major festival. It was subsequently able to advise city authorities to adjust the route of the parade and thereby boost retail revenues by 25% the next time. Today only your imagination is a limit to what technology is capable of.

The critical role of convergence and the cloud

Looking internally at BT’s own assets and capabilities, what are some of the key trends in that regard?

Fabrice De Windt: In our world, convergence is absolutely critical. The lines between the traditional towers in IT – hardware, telco, software, and services – continue to blur. For example, traditional hardware-based networking will gradually give way to Software Defined Networking (SDN), a new architecture that makes it much easier for our customers to manage their network and deploy new applications. Our capabilities in IT services are also continuously evolving.

The cloud is becoming a key driver of new business models, especially service-based and pay-as-you-use models. Uber and Airbnb are key examples of this, but now similar models are emerging in industrial sectors and manufacturing. Even aircraft engine manufacturers are turning into ‘aircraft engine as a service’ providers. That is a key trend in the market and BT is making that shift too.

Today only your imagination is a limit to what technology is capable of.

What are your first impressions of BT’s Benelux business?

Fabrice De Windt: Firstly, let me say that I’m happy to be back home. I think we can be proud of the fact that we serve such stellar customers, companies like Philips and Solvay and major institutions such as NATO and the EU. We clearly have a strong customer base. Our task now is to further develop the relationship with these clients. We can add more value by working more closely with customers. Another priority is to improve our client services; we’re good, but I would like us to be even better.

To conclude, I’m very confident in BT’s future.  We are in an excellent position currently to help our enterprise customers manage their digital transformation.  And I’m particularly excited about our Cloud of Clouds offering – it is a bold move that perfectly illustrates our own willingness to embrace new digital realities.

Our Cloud of Clouds portfolio strategy where we integrate different cloud services in a single control pane is our key differentiator.

Connect with Fabrice in our BT Let’s Talk LinkedIn Group.