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One of the world’s largest telecommunication
companies with a turnover in excess of £22
billion, BT operates ou...
2000 alone. “It’s a great return on investment”,
says Wright, “and yet we know that we are only
scraping the surface.”
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  1. 1. BACKGROUND One of the world’s largest telecommunication companies with a turnover in excess of £22 billion, BT operates out of the UK. Setting itself the ambitious target of becoming a new wave, global, communications company BT is constantly re-evaluating its business and increasingly taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by Internet, multimedia, mobility, data and integrated solutions. HARVESTING IDEAS Four years ago, Wright started the scheme to help solve some of the challenges facing a small part of the organisation. “We already had a suggestion scheme, but it wasn’t active”, recalls Wright. “The key difference was that I treated it like a business –setting clear objectives, implementing processes and procedures for handling the ideas. We also had the unusual premise that the idea donors are really our customers and should be accorded that status.” IDEA TRACKING Recognising that the main function of the department was to take a basic idea and track it as it made the necessary rounds, Wright and his team started looking at call centre technologies. “It’s exactly the same principle and processes you need to record things, pass them on for action, monitor the progress and then feed back to the customer”, says Roger Crombleholme, Systems Support Manager, BT. HEAT was chosen for its ease of customisation as well as its powerful service level agreement (SLA) procedures. “When an idea goes out for evaluation we use the SLA function and automated processes to monitor its progress. Currently we are achieving around a 65% success rate with replies being fed back within our target 40-day period. If it’s going to take longer to get a reply, then the escalation procedures are there to make sure the customers are informed of what is happening.” Another problem is that many ideas have a limited lifespan and have to be acted on quite quickly if they are to benefit the business. “It’s in this area of speed, that electronic systems have come into their own. Not only do they deliver us improved communication channels but also we are now able to combat the problem of timeliness that we had with our paper based system.” HUGE SAVINGS The ideas generated so far have ranged from technical solutions to the problems of managing huge volumes of data traffic on the BT network to practical ways of allowing rabbits on the Madeley site to cross the boundary security fence without setting off the alarm. “Ideas don’t come for free”, explains Wright. “If we have a good idea that saves us money or generates additional income, then we are delighted to reward the originator with 10% of the savings or additional income up to a maximum of £30,000.” Over £400,000 was paid out to employees in Company Name British Telecom Industry Telecoms Annual Turnover £22 billioin Business Benefits • Service Level Agreements • Improved customer satisfaction • Operational savings HEAT Saved British Telecom £97 MillionHEAT Saved British Telecom £97 Million T E L E C O M S FrontRange Solutions UK Ltd. 100 Longwater Avenue, GreenPark, Reading RG2 6GP Tel: 0118 938 7400 Fax: 0118 938 7401 Email: Web:
  2. 2. 2000 alone. “It’s a great return on investment”, says Wright, “and yet we know that we are only scraping the surface.” The performance and success of the division is carefully monitored using a balanced scorecard. “We monitor everything we can –from what we are learning as an organisation, the financial benefits of an idea, the number implemented, the speed at which we respond to submitted ideas – so that we know where to improve our processes. Customer satisfaction levels are important too. In the last three years satisfaction levels have risen 15% to 85%, while the number of ideas generated has doubled and yet the staff processing them has reduced by 30%. “Our electronic systems have made us more efficient in the way we do our work. The next stage to become more sophisticated with our targeting when we canvas for ideas.” A recent broad-focussed campaign –What’s Bugging You –generated over 1,7000 ideas, while other smaller campaigns may only generate 100 ideas. The spin-off from a recent request for ideas for the Environmental group was that awareness of the group’s internal campaign to promote reuse and re-cycling went up dramatically. “We measured the level of awareness of the campaign before and after our request for ideas. The other benefit was that we also got a second wave of ideas into the system at the end of the campaign.” There may not be too many ideas that save BT £65 million in investment costs as Manoj Chawla did in 1997 when he suggested that data calls should be taken off the network at an early stage in order not to overload the voice network. The resultant benefits also included the launch of new services such as Surftime and BT Click. “Every idea helps”, says Wright. “Now that we have doubled the quantity of ideas, our target for next year is to improve the quality of ideas by providing incubating facilities to evaluate, nurture, develop and refine those ideas so they have a greater chance of success. Currently only 10% are implemented, next year we aim to push that up to 15%.” SELF-SERVICE The next step is to make the system more accessible to its customers by taking advantage of the self-service components within HEAT. “We are fine tuning this at the moment, so that people can enter their ideas directly into the database or simply look at the history of their ideas and see what progress is being made”, explains Crombleholme. “This facility is going to take our customer service up another level.” Wright and his team are also experimenting with voice recognition technology so that eventually people will be able to ring in their ideas and talk straight into the HEAT system. “The technology is there but we haven’t quite got it all hanging together, but it won’t be long.”