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BT establishes Digital innovation unit

January 12, 2021

BT has announced the creation of a new technology unit – Digital – to lead its digital innovation agenda, effective from April 1st. The new unit will focus on the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms and services in key areas such as healthcare and data.

To lead the new unit, BT has appointed Harmeen Mehta as Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, reporting directly to Chief Executive Philip Jansen and as a member of the Executive Committee. Mehta will work closely with Philip, the Board, the Chief Technology Officer and BT’s customer facing units to drive the company’s digital transformation. The new Digital unit will include accountability for IT, digital innovation, BT-wide business transformation and data and product strategy.

Mehta joins from global telecommunications provider Bharti Airtel, where she’s spent the last seven years as Group CIO, as well as leading their cloud and security businesses.

Howard Watson will become Chief Technology Officer, leading the team accountable for network strategy, networks transformation and service platforms, as well as retaining accountability for cyber and information security. The continued focus on network leadership and partnership with customer facing units on converged services and experiences will leverage the strength of BT’s superior networks to differentiate its services for its customers.

Supporting the acceleration of BT’s technology transformation, BT also announced a non-executive Technology Advisory Board (TAB) to provide insight, provocation and external perspective to the Executive Committee on emerging technologies, market and societal trends. The TAB will consist of recognised industry experts, meeting three times a year, to provide thought leadership on the development of propositions and identify opportunities in the portfolio for future consideration. Members include Daniela Rus, Dame Wendy Hall, Steve King, Shweta Sharma, Mike Young, and John Stecher.

With a new strategic ambition and transformation programme now in execution, BT announced that Mike Sherman, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, will be leaving BT. Responsibility for corporate strategy moves to Simon Lowth, Chief Financial Officer.

Jansen said: “This is more than a leadership announcement, it’s an important statement of intent. 2020 saw a number of major BT innovations enter the marketplace but there’s opportunity to go much further. The creation of BT Digital will enable us to focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact, delivering digital platforms that bring together best-in-class services for our customers, and fully embracing new technologies such as AI and machine learning. This is bigger than just BT; it’s about building partnerships with other leading innovators to expand into new areas and bring the benefits of top-notch digital services to customers, including enhanced converged fixed and mobile services, tools that guard against cyber-attacks, and connected care applications to help families look after elderly or vulnerable loved ones even if they’re geographically remote. These changes will help us take these ideas to market fast and at scale, accelerating our digital and business transformation programmes already underway, and I’m delighted to welcome Harmeen to BT at this exciting time. I’d also like to thank Mike for his leadership and contribution to BT, we wish him well for the future.”

Mehta added: “BT is an institution with deep roots and a rich and fabulous past of serving customers and multinationals in the UK and globally. I am really excited to be part of the future of BT as we build a customer centric digital organisation bringing new products and services to delight our customers and create new opportunities of digital growth in the business. There never has been a more interesting time to play such a meaningful role in the lives of our customers and I’m excited to play such a key role in delivering the exciting ambition that Philip and his team have set out.”

Mehta joins BT on March 1st.

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