Launching BT’s Visibility and Thought Leadership Program


The Challenge

Sterling was brought in to provide communications strategy and outreach for BT’s IT and operations business unit, BT Design. BT wanted to create awareness of the role it was playing in the remaking of BT from a traditional “climbing poles and digging holes” telephone company into a truly modern, global networked IT services company. In particular, BT wanted to highlight the innovative measures it was taking to become a more software-oriented, customer-centric company that delivered products in ever shorter cycles. But most importantly, BT wanted to be considered the telecommunications thought leader and a beacon for the rest of the industry.

The Strategy

As BT Design was still a primarily internal IT organization and BT’s other operating units owned the company’s customer relationships, Sterling would have to fashion a strategy that did not rely on some of the traditional tools of the PR trade. We wouldn’t have external customer wins or implementations to tout or specific products to promote. What BT Design did have, however, was a compelling story about how a company steeped in tradition would turn to an agent of change to completely remake the organizational structure, processes, priorities, and even the basic way of thinking of its 20,000 person IT group. That agent of change was BT Group CIO Al-Noor Ramji.

From the outset, Ramji envisioned a leaner IT organization that was more focused on and directly involved with BT’s customers. Ramji saw BT’s new all IP network as being analogous to a PC operating system. The network was the platform on which a new generation of applications would run; applications created both by BT and eventually by third parties. But to be successful, BT would have to operate more like a computer software company than a telephone company.

The Results

Sterling focused on identifying opportunities for Ramji and some of his key subordinates to speak at industry events and to provide contributed articles outlining the company’s vision. Sterling also secured recognition for BT Design, Ramji, and other members of BT Exact’s management team through industry awards, including ComputerWorld Premier 100 IT Leaders, CIO Ones to Watch, InfoWorld 100, CIO 100, and many others. In addition, Sterling secured feature coverage for several of the company’s internal IT initiatives, such as its efforts to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of its data centers and its groundbreaking agile development program, in magazines such as InfoWorld, CIO, CIO Insight, and Computerworld.

Sterling helped change the perception of BT from a landline phone operator to a cutting-edge, 21st-century networked IT services vendor.

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