Bell Canada creates new business units

Bell Canada has announced it is creating three new divisions and consolidating its corporate functions with its parent company, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc. as part of a strategy to better serve its enterprise, small- to medium-sized business (SMB) and consumer customers.

With this re-organization Bell intends to bring new solutions to market for its clients, improve customer interaction with clients, and increase time-to-market of new services and products.

The new Enterprise division will service enterprise clients, who account for about $3 billion (US$2.2 billion) of Bell’s annual revenue, according to Montreal-based CEO of BCE and Bell, Michael Sabia. Starting June 1 it will be headed by Isabelle Courville, who is the current president and CEO of Bell Nordiq Group Inc.

Sabia said because large enterprise customers have been subdivided between Bell Nexxia, Bell Ontario, and Bell Quebec, they’ve had to have consultations between three senior executives whenever Bell wanted to make a strategic move in the enterprise space. By concentrating these customers in one unit, Sabia said Bell is giving one senior executive – Courville – the tools and authority needed to develop and execute an enterprise strategy.

Sabia noted there have been a lot of instances where Bell failed to respond quickly enough to customer demands. Sabia said it once took Bell 90 days of internal negotiations in order to put together a packaged offering, and during that period one of their competitors had a 180-day lead in the marketplace.

“That’s just not acceptable,” he said.

And although both the Quebec and Ontario divisions have been disbanded as a result of this consolidation, Sabia said both provinces’ unique needs would still be cared for.

The company’s new Small and Medium Business Division, will be headed by Karen Sheriff, who right now holds the position of chief marketing officer for Bell. SMBs generate about C$2 billion in revenue for Bell annually, Sabia said.

The third unit, the Consumer Markets Group, will comprise Bell’s residential wireline service, Bell Mobility, Bell ExpressVu satellite TV, Sympatico Internet service and retail BellWorld operations.

Effective June 1, it will be led by Pierre Blouin who is currently the CEO of BCE Emergis Inc. Consumer clients constitute the bulk of Bell’s revenue at about C$8 billion, Sabia said.

“Realigning the company by customer group does make some degree of sense. Whether they’re going to reap benefits from it at the end of the day depends on how well they’re able to execute,” said Mark Quigley, Ottawa-based research director at the Yankee Group in Canada.

He said Bell has become more responsive to customer needs in the past few years and has responded well to competitor re-pricing and marketing initiatives in the past.

“If you look at a company the size of Bell Canada, it takes much longer for a company like Bell to respond than a smaller company does,” Quigley said. “So by setting up in these customer-oriented verticals and giving them the ability to respond to their customers without having to cut through the rest of the organizational tape, for example, in theory in any case, should make it faster.”

However, he voiced a concern that Bell Mobility has been lumped in with the Consumer Markets Group.

“Certainly wireless is player a larger role in many businesses, as well,” he said. “It’s my understanding they have put in place methods to deal with that, but nonetheless, for a market perspective it does perhaps give indications that perhaps business customers won’t receive the same kind of attention the consumer might.”

While Bell transitions to these new units over the coming weeks, the company says there will be no impact on service to customers, and for the most part business clients will be served by their usual sales reps.

In addition to consolidating units under customer type, Bell is also merging its people with those of BCE to remove what the company calls “internal barriers” to customer service, for example, with its marketing, financial and legal operations.

“In the structure that we had before this change our marketing operations were all concentrated in one unit under a chief marketing officer. That organization was structurally separate from all of our channels to market. Each time marketing wanted to do something, it involved a series of discussions and, in effect, negotiations between that marketing operation and the executives leading our channels to market,” Sabia explained.

“That organizational barrier between marketing and the channels was something that caused substantial amount of negotiation and the consumption of unnecessary time.” Now Bell has integrated marketing into each of the new business units to better target those segments of the market.

Finally, Sabia assured media Wednesday morning during a conference call, there would be no job cuts resulting from this announcement at either Bell or BCE.

Bell Canada is based in Montreal. For more information visit BCE is also based in Montreal, and is online at