BBC completes £2bn outsourcing deal with Siemens

The BBC has completed a £2bn IT outsourcing deal with Siemens Business Services.

The BBC has completed a £2bn IT outsourcing deal with Siemens Business Services.

As part of the part of the innovative 10-year deal Siemens has acquired BBC Technology, a commercial subsidiary of the BBC which employs around 1,400 staff.

BBC Technology will be renamed Siemens Business Services Media Holdings and will be led by Tom White, managing director of Siemens Business Services. The BBC expects to save around £30m a year over the life of the contract.

The BBC last week received approval for the sale from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as well as formal approval from the board of governors.

John Varney, chief technology officer at the BBC, said, “The deal with Siemens Business Services is significant for the BBC as we enter a new phase in the way we work and operate. Technology is vital to the BBC’s future and in ensuring we build public value in everything we do.”

The deal originally faced opposition from technicians union Bectu but planned strike action for July was called off after concerns over terms and conditions for BBC IT staff were met.

Gerry Morrissey, Bectu's assistant general secretary, said, "This decision will come as a blow to our members in BBC Technology who have opposed this sell-off since it was first proposed. Despite the protection we have won for their terms and conditions after the sale, it could turn out to be bad news for some of them once jobs start to go, and it's certainly not good for the BBC in the long term."

The outsourcing deal, which has been described as one of the deals of the decade, will pose a number of challenges according to experts. Theses include the retention of key IT staff, who already work at BBC Technology and avoiding a culture clash in the commercial approach between the supplier and user.

Earlier this year John Varney told Computer Weekly that the sale of the BBC’s technology division and outsourcing deal would provide a long-term cash boost for the BBC’s IT.

One of the main tasks facing Siemens will be helping the BBC to move away from tape storage and towards making programmes digitally on desktop PCs.

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