BT grows its Asian sales capacity

BT Global Services announced last month that it's beefing up its "in-region capabilities" by adding 300 sales support positions across Asia over the next 12 months.

The move recognizes that it hasn't had the local support for key clients in the region and has had to tap resources in Europe or the US, which aren't always in tune with the requirements of Asia-Pacific customers.

Over the past two years, BT Global Services has posted operating losses of more than $3.8 billion and cut about 25% of its global workforce - from 40,000 to 29,000. It currently has about 5,000 staff in Asia.

The new investment and structure are aimed at accelerating growth in a region expected to benefit from changing global trading patterns - more intra-Asia trade and more Asian firms expanding abroad. With 81% of BT's largest customers indicating they plan to expand in Asia, the company aims to rebalance across the globe to be where the growth is. Most of the new staff will be employed in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore.

"I think BT has acknowledged that it bit off more than it could chew," said Jayesh Easwaramony, Frost & Sullivan's VP of ICT practice. But he said it would be unfair to call it another restructuring.

"The APAC move is more to embed the right kind of skill sets to help it manage bids prudently, which was one of the reasons for its profitability decline.  It rightly acknowledges APAC as a demand center and is investing accordingly."

The company is also reorganizing the way it manages its MNC clients, which traditionally have been segmented by region, said BT Asia Pacific VP for business operations Todd Handcock. 

He said MNCs buy their services globally, but they want them to be operationally delivered locally. "We're moving to global client management and then we layer on a local account manager where required."

This more customer-centric strategy will allow BT to better support clients' growth in the region, Handcock said.

The company also is setting up a bid response center in Singapore to improve its ability to pursue large regional managed services deals by speeding up its RFP response process. BT appointed Stephen Yeo, who will be based in Singapore, as CEO of its Southeast Asian operations.