Cloud Tech Takes Center Stage: BT’s Vision for Innovation and Growth

Interview

Joris van Oers, BT’s managing director, Global, speaking at the opening of its new office in Budapest One on May 31, 2023.

BT, a global leader in telecommunications and digital services, has reaffirmed its commitment to Hungary by opening its new office in the Budapest One building. In an exclusive interview, Joris van Oers, BT’s managing director, Global, sheds light on the company’s strategic focus on cloud technology, the exceptional talent available in Hungary, and the firm’s ambitious plans to shape the future of telecommunications.

BBJ: BT aims to be the number one provider of secure multi-cloud connectivity for global enterprises. What role does the BT ROC [regional operations center] play in the strategy?

Joris van Oers: We have people in more than 70 countries serving our customers directly. The backbone of our organization is built around three regional operating centers: Hungary, India, and the United Kingdom. What is interesting here is what we call “lead to cash.” It’s the entire process of identifying opportunities, selling services, coming up with solutions and designing them, billing and cash collection. The whole “lead to cash” process is done by our 2,200 people here in Hungary. And 1,600 of them are here now, in this beautiful location. Of course, we have a broader operations infrastructure, with security operating and network operating centers worldwide. But the three ROCs now play a pivotal role in the “lead to cash” support of the services.

BBJ: How has the working model changed in the past few years at BT? And how does the new office support this?

JvO: When we looked at our strategy a couple of years ago, we saw where we make a difference is with globally operating companies and governmental institutions. And as a result, we transformed BT’s Global unit into an organization laser-focused on that target market, providing networks, cloud and security. Recently, we announced our ambition to become the market leader in secure multi-cloud connectivity. That’s driven by all those multinational companies and international organizations that have moved to the cloud. Of course, there are multiple clouds. They see a challenge in securely connecting to the clouds and unlocking data for their end users, their own people, and their customers. We work globally because that also reflects how our customers operate. I admit that for many organizations, and also for us, COVID accelerated the way we work. We have a view that you can collaborate well in offices, and therefore we spent significant money on it. Naturally, you can also work with people outside the office globally. However, if we look at this office, the look and feel, the technology, and the way we designed it are part of something we call the “Better Workplace Program,” which we have rolled out worldwide.

BBJ: BT recently achieved the distinction of being the second most attractive company here in Hungary. What factors do you believe contributed to this?

JvO: I think it’s a blend of what we do. The type of services that we provide makes people in general very proud. I always say that if we stop working, planes are on the ground, trucks stop driving, shops are empty, and banks cannot perform. What we do is pivotal for the critical business operations of leading brands around the world. People feel proud to work in that type of environment. Secondly, it’s culture. We are a sort of tribe. If you ask people what they appreciate about BT, it’s the family culture, the fact that we are a pretty close community and that we take care of our people. We have a lot of initiatives to bring families into the room, charity fundraising and those types of things that give a feeling of belonging. And then I think it’s the environment. If you want to be the market leader in secure multi-cloud connectivity, you need to also have a techie type of environment. I think the tools we give our people and the seamless way people can operate and do their work are pretty amazing.

BBJ: How would you characterize this Hungarian talent pool in terms of skills and capabilities?

JvO: Very high. I see how closely we collaborate with universities, the educational system, the relations we have there, and the pool of talent that we have available. Talking about “lead to cash,” we can see that all sorts of disciplines are represented here, and that’s a reflection of the good education system, but also the eagerness of people to work for us and to do their jobs the right way. In France, a couple of weeks ago, I was opening another office, and I came across two young people from Hungary who started here and are now progressing in their careers there. And that is because they’re well educated, and I also have to mention the eagerness of Hungarians to master languages, which is what we need. From a service perspective, we also have our service desk here, and this is the environment where we have the most languages available to support our global customers. You can imagine that these customers don’t speak multiple languages and just want to call us in their language. In some urgent situations, it’s very convenient that people can talk in their own language.

BBJ: What are your plans for the company’s operations here in Hungary? And how do you envision the company’s future both in Hungary and on a global scale?

JvO: From a business and strategy point of view, we believe our ambition to become that market leader in secure multi-cloud connectivity is spot on. In a lot of conversations with our customers, analysts, or the wider community of technology partners, we can see that they understand the value we can bring as a company. We see a lot of activity and engagement around transforming their networks, their security and rolling out cloud solutions to improve customer experience.

We are investing a lot in three principal areas. One is security; we continue to invest in our security capabilities worldwide, whether with people or the security operating centers in our portfolio. The second thing is we’re rolling out an entirely new state-of-the-art network that will replace our current infrastructure. It’s going to be, globally, the best network position closest to the cloud, enabling us to unlock the potential of the cloud for our customers.

The third area we invest in is people. We are convinced that people make a big difference. We are not fundamentally changing the way we operate our business. You may see the strategy on which we built the foundations of the future here in Hungary. This building, and the investment we made here, is a statement of our commitment to this market as one of the key regional operating centers in the world. As long as we can grow the business, whether with existing or new customers, there’s a promising future for our activities in Hungary to develop further.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 16, 2023.

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