BT creates digital transformation unit, poaches Bharti Airtel exec to lead it

UK telecoms group BT reckons there might be something in this digital transformation thing, so it’s setting up a special silo to focus on it.

The new business unit is simple called Digital, and will focus on ‘the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms and services in key areas such as healthcare and data.’ A new silo means a new c-suite exec and in this case it’s Harmeen Mehta, who has been appointed Chief Digital and Innovation Officer. Mehta was previously Group CIO at Indian telco group Bharti Airtel, where she also ran its cloud and security business.

“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,” said Mehta. “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.”

“This is more than a leadership announcement, it’s an important statement of intent,” said BT Chief Exec Philip Jansen. “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.”

Mike Sherman, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, has apparently decided it’s the right time for him to leave BT. CTIO Howard Watson is being stripped of the I (information), even though he’s still in charge of information security, so that makes sense. Expect BT to eventually launch the kind of digital transformation products telcos like Orange and Telefónica have been exploring for years on the back of this initiative.

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