Telecom firms have traditionally developed their services in technology silos. But Matt Bross, CTO of BT (formerly British Telecom), sees no reason to continue investing in legacy infrastructure, not when the Internet offers vast new opportunities. The former head of global engineering for MasterCard, Bross has developed the architecture for BT’s $18 billion next-generation communications network, dubbed 21CN, to be deployed in 160 countries over the next five years, one that dumps the traditional phone network in favor of broadband IP systems.
Flying in the face of century-old BT tradition, Bross shared the whole picture with partners, so everyone works within the same framework. “That caused more than a few comments,” he notes wryly.
The result: Innovations are now focused on customer services and developed as interoperable platforms. They come from a mix of BT staff, business partners, universities, and vendors throughout the world -- a team of technology scouts looks for promising technologies that can support BT’s service vision -- so the company doesn’t have to invent everything itself. “That change was difficult,” Bross acknowledges, but people soon saw the benefits: “They see their ideas fused with the best of the world and put into practice.”