A year ago, I said
that there were three main parts to BTís strategy. This year,
Iím saying the same thing. First, we have a passion for
customers. Second, we have broadband at the heart of BT - and BT
at the heart of broadband. Third, we have rigorous financial
By concentrating on these three
priorities we can continue to reward shareholders, drive down
debt and invest in the business - where it matters.
First and foremost, we are
passionate about customers. Every time we deal with a customer,
our goal is to deliver an excellent experience - an experience
which is simple, but also complete.
We are working to meet the needs
that customers have today. And we are innovating to meet the
needs they will have tomorrow.
This means getting ever closer to
customers, understanding their lifestyles and businesses,
establishing long-term relationships with them. We are proud to
serve individuals, families, small or medium-sized businesses,
and global corporations.
In the past year, our passion for
customers has delivered results. For example:
- consumers and businesses are
now more satisfied with the way we provide and repair their
services, as shown by our satisfaction surveys
- packages such as BT Together,
which has ten million residential customers, have been a
major success story. From June this year, BT Together will
be even simpler, making minute-by-minute charges for evening
and weekend calling a thing of the past
- we are the UKís leading
internet service provider for small and medium businesses
- the order book for our
solutions business is very strong and orders worth £3.6
billion were taken during the 2003 financial year, including
a major Ä1 billion contract to manage Unileverís worldwide
communications network for seven years
- we promised that our major
European operations would break even at the EBITDA level
and, thanks to our market success and efficiency programme,
- new business revenues among
wholesale customers (other telecoms operators and internet
service providers) grew by 85% year on year
- and, very importantly, overall
customer dissatisfaction was significantly down by 37% for
the company (against the target we set of 25%).
Broadband is the biggest
opportunity for growth in the communications market. Itís no
exaggeration to say that it will be as important to our future
as voice telephone calls were to our past. Broadband is more
than just another product. It is a whole new way of
communicating. It sparks off tremendous demand and is growing at
a rapid rate - connections having increased almost fourfold in
the 2003 financial year.
Our record over the past year
shows how we are meeting this demand:
- at 31 March 2003, we had
around 800,000 ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line)
connections, and we are well on the way to reaching our
target of one million this summer
- two-thirds of the UK
population is now connected to an ADSL-enabled exchange, and
our development of new business models, coupled with
technological breakthroughs, could put 90% of the UKís
homes and small businesses within reach of broadband
services within the next few years.
And as well as signing up
customers, we are moving quickly to offer them inspiring new
services. Our understanding of what customers want is growing
every day and we are making sure that the company is able to
provide it. For example, new broadband services were launched,
offering music - Dotmusic on Demand, sport - Sportal on Demand,
and education - the BT Learning Centre.
Our third key priority is
financial discipline. We put our heart into customer service,
but also into a rigorous approach to finance.
As the broadband record shows, we
have to meet the demands of our customers in a way that also
serves the interests of shareholders - in other words, it has to
be financially responsible and sustainable.
Financial discipline is not the
same thing as cost savings. Itís about doing things smarter,
raising the bar, proving that it is possible to do more with
less. We did substantially reduce operating costs and, in
addition, we very carefully targeted our capital expenditure,
which was £2.4 billion during the 2003 financial year, a 21%
reduction on the previous year, on a like-for-like basis.
We are investing to transform our
network. Equipment designed for 20th century services is making
way for a true 21st century network, delivering the broadband,
multimedia services that todayís customers require. It will
also deliver these services in the way many of todayís
customers now demand them - for example enabling customers to
configure and adjust their services themselves.
In this network, we are creating
a new engine for growth; simultaneously offering lower operating
costs and higher performance.
These then are the priorities
that we have been focused on in the past year and that we will
remain focused on in the year ahead.
Our success will depend not just
on making our strategy work but on the way in which we make it
The new corporate identity that
we unveiled at the beginning of April 2003 defines the kind of
company we are now and need to be in the future.
Central to that new identity is a
commitment to be simple and complete in all we do. And that, in
turn, means living our brand values.
Being trustworthy means
consistently delivering on our promises. Helpful means
listening and responding. Being straightforward means
keeping things simple and clear, and inspiring means
constantly working to create new communications possibilities.
And we have to do everything with real heart - showing
passion and conviction.
Those values, of course, can only
be lived through people - and, of course, our strategy can only
be delivered by the teams of motivated people throughout the
business. It simply couldnít happen without them. They breathe
life into it. They make it work. And Iíd like to thank them
for their loyalty and their hard work.