Monday, 24 May 2010

Is Ian Livingston about to save BT?

Judging by the recent headlines, interviews and articles you would think that BT had returned to long term lasting success under the guidance of Ian Livingston, when what he has really done is a rescue job to temporarily halt the decline caused by Global Services old management failures, over ambitious technology service projects, and by not managing the costs of the core business. Journalists at the broadsheets take note.
Taking these one at a time; he has cleared out the management of GS - full marks for that - as the GS managers had signed up to services that BT is incapable of delivering or at the profit margins quoted in the business case. Thus they are probably guilty of misleading the board and hence the shareholders. In some cases this has been quoted by some observers as fraud by the old management who managed to get paid bonuses in the millions of pounds sterling while share holders saw their stock value slump. Thus these managers got off scot free leaving pension funds and shareholders to suffer. Will Mr Livingston be taking steps to amend this situation or is he waiting for class action law suits?
Sadly Mr Livingston still sees a future for GS which we have shown does not fit in BT and is incapable of being managed by BT. Indeed Mr Livingston sees GS as leading the BT thrust into Asia Pacific market. Since this same organsiation cannot deliver in Europe there is no chance of any growth or profit from APac. IL should sell GS asap. See previous posts which make this self same point.
As to the move into new services like media on demand - as the old sage once said "I'll believe it when I see it". This willtaker more media savvy and art skills than BT is capable allowing to exist in its old fashioned, and very worthy, business style.
Meanwhile the core business which was a world leader for while (that was the time when most PTT's were shackled to home country) has not been built up to make the killer tcomms infrastructure it is capable of being.
Sadly BT has got the global strategic calls wrong. But there is stil time to recover by A) getting rid of the Global Services Alabtross, B) Continuing to clear out costs of the core organisation, C) Building an owned global infrastructure (Local country rules allowing), and D) not being seduced by the siren song of the trendies who thinks there are mega bucks in media on demand. BT is not set up for it - and it detracts management attention from the real opportunities.
So; is Mr Livingston Superman? So far he's more like Batman who has cleaned up BT's Gotham City and is yet to go global. I do hope he can move from the batcave to the phone box.