Disruptive technologies hold no fear for BT CIO Clive Selley. It may be a lot simpler and faster for a customer to tweet a photo of a damaged piece of the network than it is for BT to physically get engineers to the scene and manually repair any damage, but he intends to grasp the huge opportunity presented by this very speed and ubiquity. Part of his vision is to use Big Data analytics to combine social media data with network telemetry so that BT can identify and fix issues a lot faster.
What the judges said
"In my career BT have only ever done one thing well, BT Sport and that has taken them three attempts," Mike Altendorf
"Basic Wifi and services from BT are just not reliable," Jerry Fishenden
"Customer service when you call is OK, but the reliability is awful so you test that customer service all the time. Rural services are terrible and many CIOs complain about the service standards they receive from BT," Mark Chillingworth
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
I report to Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group.
Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What other executive boards do you sit on?
I'm a member of BT Group's operating committee.
Does your organisation have a CDO?
What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
In addition to the CIO role, I also act as CEO to BT TSO, which is the core technology, networks and IT division in BT.
How many employees does your organisation have?
BT TSO has around 12,800 technologists and IT experts, who form the core of BT's technical capabilities. We also employ a significant number of contractors.
Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?
How many users does your department supply services to?
BT TSO and the CIO function I lead supply services to the whole of BT, encompassing 87,000 people across 61 countries, effectively supporting the delivery of BT's services in 170 countries.
How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
In each market-facing line of business, such as BT Global Services, BT Consumer, BT Business, BT Wholesale, I have a CIO who reports both to the line-of-business CEO and me as the group CIO. That way we're able to ensure that the needs of BT's customers and the requirements of our market-facing units are absolutely core to our strategy, and inform every decision we make as a technology organisation serving the wider group. As CEO of BT TSO I also lead for technology on BT Group's operating committee, so we play a key role in informing strategic decisions, not merely carrying them out.
BT technology strategy and agenda
Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?
Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?
Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
At the moment, I'm very proud that BT, despite being perceived as the UK's incumbent telecoms operator, can also be seen as playing a disruptive role in the market, through the development of our TV strategy and our mobility strategy. As CIO and leader of the technology organisation within BT, I've played a significant role in both projects and am confident they will help underpin a strong future for the company.
What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
BT has entered into an exclusivity agreement with Deutsche Telekom and Orange in relation to BT’s possible acquisition of all their UK mobile business, EE. We have also been working on our own mobility plans for some time, so even should a transaction not occur, we start to deliver compelling content and services to our customers, regardless of the technology platforms used. The role of BT TSO and the CIOs in realising that vision can't be understated – we're at the heart of the company's growth ambitions.
What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Whatever the outcome, this will be a year of great change for BT. After shaking up the TV market with the launch of BT Sport, we believe the addition of a strong mobility proposition will play a major role in securing BT's future, both in terms of offering quad-play services and in having the potential to offer a seamless experience for BT's customers, regardless of the technology platform and service.
How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
I am privileged to be the CIO of a company that has technology at its heart. As someone with a technology background, I focus strongly on bringing out the best of our technical capabilities, both at a company and individual level. Our people have a plethora of skills and experiences which all contribute to the success of these key projects, and I'm keen to ensure, through the provision of accredited learning pathways, technical training and development of management skills, that we help people to achieve their potential as individuals and to contribute to the success of projects like mobility and TV, which help to drive the company forward.
What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
4G, 5G, G.Fast, vectoring, cloud, NFV/SDN, IoT technologies, big data and analytics all have a role to play and are areas we're actively involved in developing at BT. In their own way, they each have the ability to be transformational, but taken as a whole, the potential to transform how services are delivered, the speed of those services, their availability, and even the types of services themselves, are all very exciting, especially for the CIO of a major telco.
Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?
What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
The use of big data and analytics forms a key part of our research agenda at BT; the potential is huge. BT’s broadband network generates around nine billion data elements a day; used correctly, and combined with service data and even social media feedback, this network telemetry can give us huge insight into the customer experience, and help identify and fix faults on the network far more rapidly.
With this in mind, BT has built a production Hadoop cluster of its own, as well as two research clusters, allowing us not only to process our own data more efficiently, but potentially tap into a new ecosystem of products and services enabled by this growth in data-crunching ability. A perfect example is in the security arena, where BT’s threat monitoring service uses big data to help combat security threats. By consolidating millions of data points into graphical representations which can be interpreted by human beings, we help companies visually identify and track attempts to hack their networks.
How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
The speed and ubiquity of social media, especially when combined with mobility, can present challenges for large infrastructure providers. It is, for example, a lot simpler and faster for a customer to tweet a photograph of a damaged piece of our network than it is for us to allocate the right resources to fixing the issue, physically get engineers to the scene and manually repair any damage. However, this very speed and ubiquity also presents a huge opportunity. If we can combine social media data with network telemetry, for example, using big data analytics techniques, we have the potential to be aware of, and fix, issues a lot faster, while using the same social media channels to communicate in real-time with our customers. This is already happening through things like BT Care, for example.
Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Shadow IT is a fact of life for all CIOs, but having a reporting line between the CIOs in our market-facing units and myself as the group CIO means that we're pretty well integrated as a management group and minimise the risk of major instances of it. Where small-scale shadow IT projects do occur, we seek to understand why they happened in the first place: was it through ignorance or a genuine business need?
As a technology company, we actively encourage BYOD smartphones and tablets, and have about 10,000 employees worldwide who have chosen to use their own smartphones and tablets. We also try to ensure that our mobility portfolio provides people with the functionality they need. I frequently trial new devices, because the speed of change is such that it is crucial to stay aware of the developing capabilities out there in the market.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
Different divisions of BT have different requirements, at different times. Openreach currently uses a lot of Apple iPhones among its engineering workforce, for example, but also signed a deal for Windows 8 laptops last year, and we're increasingly moving to Microsoft OS-based mobile devices in other parts of the business – technology is constantly evolving.
Who are your main suppliers?
Microsoft, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco. For a company with BT's scope, it is impossible to list them all, but strong supplier relationships are important to us and we work closely with a range of suppliers globally.
BT IT security and budget
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?
Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?
Has this led to an increase in your security budget?
What is the IT budget?
BT TSO has a budget in excess of £2bn a year.
How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
BT TSO and the CIO teams will play an instrumental role in supporting the BT group strategy, delivering superior customer service, transforming our costs, and investing for growth.
Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
BT technology department
How would you describe your leadership style?
Direct, straightforward and challenging, with a strong technical focus, and belief in the importance of lifelong learning and skills development.
Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I'm lucky to have decades of talent in my senior leadership team. We have regular weekly leadership team meetings, face-to-face where possible, and I hold regular operational reviews with each of my direct reports where we can discuss their performance, and that of their unit, against our strategic objectives and vision as a company, and work together to get past any obstacles or challenges that are holding them back from achieving success.
How many employees are in your IT team?
There are around 12,800 employees in BT TSO, not including contractors. It's tough to split out an exact number of IT-focused roles, because as a technology company, a huge proportion of that number are directly involved in roles and projects where IT is integral to success.
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
We have a somewhat higher proportion of in-house staff, but a significant number of contractors who fulfil specific, or project-based roles.
Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?