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BT creates new digital unit to build AI-powered services

Former Bharti Airtel group CIO Harmeen Mehta has been brought in to lead the unit

BT has announced the formation of new technology unit BT Digital, which the telecoms giant says will help accelerate next-generation services for its customers.

Open from 1st April, the unit will lead the company’s digital innovation agenda, focusing on the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms, and services in key areas such as healthcare and data.

“The creation of BT Digital will enable us to focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact, delivering digital platforms that bring together best-in-class services for our customers, and fully embracing new technologies such as AI and machine learning,” said CEO Philip Jansen.

To lead the new division, BT has appointed Harmeen Mehta as chief digital and innovation officer, who will work closely with Jansen, the Board, the CTO, and customer-facing units to drive the company’s digital transformation.

The industry veteran joins BT from global telecoms provider Bharti Airtel, where she has spent the last seven years as Group CIO, as well as leading the firm’s cloud and security businesses.

“I am really excited to be part of the future of BT as we build a customer centric digital organisation bringing new products and services to delight our customers and create new opportunities of digital growth in the business,” Mehta commented.

To further support its transformation, BT has also announced a new non-executive Technology Advisory Board (TAB) of industry experts to provide insight, provocation and external perspective to the Executive Committee on emerging technologies, market and societal trends.

The group’s wide-ranging expertise will cover key business aspects artificial intelligence, technology and digital transformation, product strategy, disruptive technologies and innovation, BT said.

Elsewhere, Howard Watson will become the firm’s new chief technology officer, while chief strategy and transformation officer Mike Sherman has decided to leave the business after a successful three-year stint in the role.  

Product strategy, business transformation, data and AI - which currently falls under Strategy and Transformation - will now form part of the new Digital unit.

“These changes will help us take these ideas to market fast and at scale, accelerating our digital and business transformation programmes already underway, and I’m delighted to welcome Harmeen to BT at this exciting time,” Jansen said. “I’d also like to thank Mike for his leadership and contribution to BT, we wish him well for the future.”

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