British Telecom touts Canadian presence

Touting the extensive reach of its global network and its emphasis on what it deems to be superior value-added services, British Telecom (BT) outlined its value proposition for the Canadian market during a press briefing in Toronto Wednesday morning.

Aiming its portfolio of communications services at multinationals and large enterprises, BT’s network stretches into 170 countries and boasts 9,500 services professionals to tend to it. BT has seven points of presence in Canada, including ones in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. It employs 32 people in this country.

Under its BT Global Services arm, the firm offers a variety of services in Canada, including an array of VPN and IP services, outsourcing, CRM and contact centres, application management and hosting, as well as mobility solutions.

It is these types of offerings that are the difference-makers in the communications services space today, according to Stephen Brash, vice-president of sales and operations for BT Canada. Connecting customers is no longer the name of the game, he said.

“It’s not just can we get you there, but it’s what can we do for you once we get you there,” he said.

One of BT’s primary challenges in the Canadian market, Brash said, was making customers and potential customers aware of what it can do.

“There’s brand awareness (of BT in Canada) and there’s an awareness of what we do….[Customers] know who BT is.” However, he added, it is a challenge “to make sure people are thinking about us in the context of being able to supply global enterprise services to the multinationals.”

Another key differentiator for BT, Brash said, in a market that includes such homegrown players as Bell and Telus, is the firm’s ability to set the right expectations for its customers. If a client’s request to get a T1 link into its office in Barcelona within a month is unrealistic, he pointed out by way of example, BT reps will declare such and propose a more realistic timeframe.

“That’s a big piece of value for a global multinational,” Brash said.

According to Stefan Dubowski, telecom industry watcher and managing editor at Decima Reports in Toronto, BT’s messaging is resonating with customers, although the company is attracting them “not by pulling them in. The customers are saying they need BT and they’re going to them. What we’re not seeing is BT actually pulling in the customers, and I think that is where their challenge is going to be — actually attracting the people rather than waiting for Air Canada or other multinationals to go to them.”

Dubowski added that BT would be wise to trumpet their Canadian success stories at greater volumes.

“It would be good to hear more about their specific wins, and what makes them different,” he said. “(They talk about their) R&D spending. OK, let’s hear more about how that is drilling right down into…how they’re helping customers. If we start to hear more about that, perhaps they will have a greater chance of grabbing mindshare that I think they’re missing out on right now.”

BT carried out a pair of notable acquisitions within the past year. Earlier this year it bought International Network Services Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif., company whose services included information risk management and infrastructure transformation, as well as consulting on business productivity and on enterprise architecture and governance.

Last October, BT bought another California company, U.S. consultancy Counterpane Internet Security Inc., for a price it said was in the “tens of millions of dollars.” Counterpane, with a staff of 75, monitors and protects the networks of approximately 550 companies.

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