Make Your Own Luck with Chet Patel of BT Global
How BT Global makes its own luck by always out-innovating and thinking far out into the future
I’m about to flip a coin so call it in the air. Heads or tails? … What did you choose? If you were making a bet, which side of the coin would you bet on and how much are you willing to lose? In the movie The Dark Knight, before he becomes a villain, Harvey Dent is the white knight. He takes risks and flips a coin to make major decisions betting that luck will make him a winner. It seems foolhardy until you come to realize, actually, he makes his own luck. BT Global operates much the same way. The difference is that where Harvey Dent takes a villainous turn, BT maintains its longstanding heroic posture, driven to connect the world for good. Still, like Dent, BT is always playing two hands at once, betting on both sides of the coin to make its own luck. It is what Chet Patel, the Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, Americas at BT, says has helped the company make its own luck for more than 100 years
Patel describes BT as the most experienced telco in the world — it has been around since 1875 and has seen privatization and monopoly and regulation and technology and all the things that have happened in society since then.
“We’ve experienced most things in one way or another and thrived and generated more innovation and new stuff along for society and our customers and our employees,” Patel says, “So, I think part of that X factor comes from that stability, that continuity, the trust and everything else around it.”
In creating its own luck with as many of the best products and services as possible, BT also did something that appears to be counter intuitive. It wants to make sure that a customer only buys their wide-ranging products if they really need it.
“The most important thing that we try to do with consumers, whether they are big businesses or global businesses, is demystify it,” Patel says. “Explain to them what technology is capable of. And then we take a step back.”
BT isn’t trying to razzle dazzle anyone or point customers toward the next shiny object. BT knows that it can sell that next shiny object — BT’s betting on that — but first the company has to solve for right now.
“I’m a huge believer in a value outcome based conversation,” Patel says. “Having conversations that are okay, what is it we’re trying to achieve here? And where is it we want to go in the future? Okay. Let’s create something working together that will meet these needs today and give you the flexibility, the choice, and the optionality going forward into the future as well. So, you can chop and change because nobody wants to be stuck with one technology for the rest of their existence. That’s not a good place. People want to be able to swap out.”
The company has the final element that Jim Collins identified which gives it high Return on Luck, or ROL, that other companies would die for and that is maintaining hyper-vigilance and preparing for the inevitable bad luck. BT knows that right now things could be going well, but later on, you might not be as lucky as you need to be and if that happens, BT has the solution.
“It’s us really understanding their business and actually helping our customers to really understand their business, provoking them to answer and think about the questions that they need to be thinking about, and then jointly solving it with them and operationalizing it, using the latest and the greatest technology,” Patel says.
To find out about the solutions that BT has for the time when the inevitable bad luck hits, its developing cybersecurity practice and how it helps its customer to always bet on both heads and tails, tune into Business X factors.
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