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Chief Executive’s statement

Ben Verwayen

Today, BT is a very different company from the one that I joined three years ago. As our customers’ needs have changed and continue to change, so we have found and continue to find new ways of meeting those needs, investing in innovative products and services which add value to our customers and to BT. That, after all, is what being a service company means.

In 2005, convergence is at the heart of BT’s strategy.
     By convergence, we mean the ability to bring together our capabilities and capacities in new ways to make life better, simpler and cheaper for our customers. For our business customers this means productivity improvements; for consumers it’s about new, easier to use services. For customers of all kinds it means a more joined-up communications experience.
     So, for example, we offer our major corporate customers around the world a unique marriage of our networking experience and infrastructure with IT services. These used to be separate offerings, often supplied by different companies, but we’re bringing them together in one place. This means that however much their operations are dispersed around the globe, our customers can communicate and operate as one, anytime, anywhere, and at lower cost.
     What we’re doing in the mobile market is similarly about convergence – we aim to offer customers a converged combination of ‘the best of fixed and the best of mobile’. Ultimately, our customers shouldn’t have to worry about fixed or mobile when what they really want is freedom and flexibility. This means that we have to find ways of helping them communicate, wherever they are, using whatever device they choose, at the right price.
     And convergence is also what our twenty-first century network (21CN) programme is all about. What our customers need to know is that the 21CN can support a range of technologies and services that will enable them to do the things they want to do – faster, more seamlessly and more cost efficiently. And because this new network will support a wide range of innovative services which are currently run on separate networks, it will be much more cost efficient for BT.

Global networked IT services
We have raised our global profile through targeted acquisitions, including Infonet and Radianz, and by increasing our holding in Albacom to 100%.
     We continued to play to our strengths in the networked IT services market. A few years ago, our position in this market was aspirational; today, we are competing with the best – and winning. The BT brand is now a powerful presence in the global networked IT services market. It’s a brand that stands for excellent networking skills and a genuine commitment to finding innovative ways of delivering what our customers want, end to end, leaving them free to do what they’re good at: running their businesses.
     Our ICT (information and communications technology) revenues were £3 billion in the year and the major contracts we’ve won indicate the confidence that our customers are prepared to put in us. We now have a track record of meeting the needs of public and private sector customers in, for example, the financial services and government arenas.
     Our networked IT services order intake for the year was over £7 billion.

Broadband
Broadband has been an enormous success story, not just for BT but for the UK as a whole, which now has the highest levels of broadband access of any country in the G7 group of nations. We hit our five million broadband lines target a year early.
     As broadband access becomes a fact of life for most people in the UK, our focus is shifting further towards the retail market where we have fantastic scope to drive further growth.
     Having got broadband, people now want to do more and more with it. We are increasing speeds by up to four times at no extra cost to our retail customers.

Convergent mobility services
The launch, in partnership with Vodafone, of our mobile virtual network operator in both the business and consumer markets is the key to building a mobility customer base and a path to mobile convergence. We now have over 372,000 contract connections.
     Our strategy is to build a foundation for the delivery of high-value, fixed/mobile convergent solutions, for consumers and businesses. An early example of this will be Project Bluephone which will give customers the convenience of a mobile phone with the quality and cost advantage of fixed-line services.

Twenty-first century network
Our 21CN will help to make the UK one of the most advanced telecommunications countries in the world, transform our wholesale business and support the next generation of flexible, cost-efficient services. At the end of April 2005, we announced the eight preferred suppliers who will help us to implement the 21CN.
     The capital expenditure involved is significant but the 21CN will lead to a radical simplification of our networks making it easier to offer compelling propositions to all our customers. The real challenge is to ensure that we invest in a way that meets customers’ needs.

Traditional business
We are experiencing major changes in our traditional markets as a result of regulation, growing competition and significant shifts in our customers’ buying patterns, as they discover the possibilities of technologies such as instant messaging and voice over IP.

Fixed-voice telephone calls may no longer be the only way to measure the success of a communications company, but they remain fundamental to our business. We may have lost some market share to competitors but we will continue to compete aggressively by offering new and better services, and improved customer value.

Cost efficiency
Taking a leadership position on costs is critical. Earnings per share is a key measure, which means that we have to continue to look at every cost line in the business and challenge it. We’ve made excellent progress on improving our cost efficiency in the past few years and in the 2005 financial year, our cost efficiency programmes achieved savings of around £400 million, and we aim to deliver at least £300 million to £400 million of savings in each of the next three years.

Relentless customer focus
Our 20 million customers are a wonderful asset and we have to continue to show how much we value every one of them.
     A key target for us was driving down customer dissatisfaction – we’ve reduced dissatisfaction levels by 23% on a compound annual basis over the past three years. There is still more to be done and we must continue this focus.

Our people
People bring strategies to life, people deliver world-class customer experiences, people make convergence happen.
     Two years ago, we introduced our new brand values – trustworthy, helpful, inspiring, straightforward, heart.
     Since then, BT people have embraced these values, and turned the business inside out and upside down to deliver our strategy, finding innovative ways to reinvent BT in our traditional markets at the same time as establishing our BT brand in new markets, all the while driving down customer dissatisfaction.
     I am constantly amazed by their commitment and by what they have achieved.

Ben Verwaayen


Chief Executive
18 May 2005

 

 

 

 

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