BT CEO: Smartphones and tablets transforming workplace

The future of the communication business
The future of the communication business

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The future of the communication business 03:43

Story highlights

  • BT CEO: The growth of smartphones and tablets is changing our work patterns
  • This "consumerization" of business is blurring the lines between work and personal life
  • The consumer sector is now driving innovation in communications tech, he says
  • While businesses can benefit from this, it also raises security challenges
The soaring popularity of smartphones and tablets is eroding the distinction between our business and personal worlds, says the head of British telecoms giant BT.
Ian Livingston, BT's chief executive officer, told Marketplace Europe the "consumerization" of business -- the trend for personal consumer devices such as smartphones and tablet computers to be used in the workplace -- was redefining the way we do business.
"One of the things that we are seeing is the barrier between business and consumer is beginning to come down," he said.
"What was assumed in the past was very much [that] your business life is over here and your personal life is over there -- that is not true, certainly not true for most of your business people."
The consumer sector was now taking the lead when it came to innovations in communication technology, giving workers the opportunity stay connected on their personal device around the clock -- whether in the office, at home or traveling.
"People are going to become networked all the time," he said. "I think we are just at the beginning of this revolution."
While there were clear benefits for businesses to be had from the new reality, it also raised challenges around security.
"It used to be that the IT department would say: 'How can I stop people from using it on our corporate network?'" he said. "Today it is 'How can I help people use it securely on the corporate network?'"
Livingston said BT was meeting some of the infrastructure costs required for the new communications environment by focusing on improving its customer service.
"The reason we start with customer service, apart from the obvious fact that customers like better service, is actually the biggest cost of our business and any telecoms business is the cost of failure."
Through initiatives such as the company's "First Time Right" program, it had managed to reduce its cost base by £3 billion ($4.7 billion) over three years -- and halved the number of complaints received.
"Take the failures out of the business -- and we have done a lot of that -- and the costs fall out automatically," he said. "That cost transformation has got more to go, and it also frees up money and people to invest in the future of business."