BT claims £24bn value as it enables new customer experience for Walgreens Boots

As it announces role in delivering transformation for pharmacy chain, BT reveals data showing that it employs one in every 12 people in UK’s IT and communications sector

The pivotal role the communications industry has played during the Covid-19 pandemic is well known, but now BT has quantified exactly how much a contribution it has made, just as it racks up a major deal to support the Walgreens Boots Alliance retail chain.

In its report The economic impact of BT Group in the UK, consultancy firm Hatch calculates that BT generated more than £24bn in gross value added (GVA) during the last financial year, making the BT Group responsible for generating £1 in every £75 produced in the UK economy.

The report also estimates that about 300,000 full-time jobs in the UK are supported through BT’s direct employment, its spending with contractors and suppliers, and the spending of its employees. The group also spent nearly £10.1bn with suppliers around the UK, including helping to maintain about 35,000 vehicles, with an ambition to transition up to 28,000 electric vehicles by 2030.

The study notes that BT Group’s broadband and mobile networks, spanning from the Scilly Isles to Shetland, are built and maintained by some of its 82,800 direct employees in the UK. This, Hatch calculates, is the equivalent to one in every 12 employees working in the IT and communications sectors.

Jane Wood, BT Group director of nations and regions, said she was “immensely proud” of the contribution her colleagues had made in supporting the UK economy.

“At an important time for our country, our spending on people, networks and suppliers provides a vital economic boost for the UK,” she said. “The wider impact of that spending helps to sustain communities and small businesses right across the UK.

“In the past year, having good connectivity has become more important than ever as we’ve all had to work, learn and spend more leisure time online. Despite these challenges, our dedicated and determined colleagues have ensured EE’s 5G network has been extended to cover 125 towns and cities, built out Openreach’s full-fibre networks to reach 4.1 million premises and EE’s 4G network now reaches 85% of the UK.

“I know these significant investments will help to underpin the country’s economic recovery post-Covid.”

BT is currently modernising its business, including investing in what it says is the UK’s largest workplace consolidation and modernisation programme. Modernisation is also the watchword in a new, multi-year agreement with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) to continue as the company’s network partner in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

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Under the agreement, BT will work to transform WBA’s networking and enhance the customer and colleague experience with the deployment of next-generation networking technology based on a Cisco Meraki SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network), and part of BT’s recently announced managed SD-WAN solution line.

BT says the network gives WBA the agility to respond to new opportunities. It includes the transformation of voice services across Boots UK and Ireland stores, cyber security to protect customers, staff and devices, and extending mobile connectivity – with plans to include 5G – for service resilience and to rapidly expand capacity to support peaks in demand.

The network will aim to provide faster, more responsive access to applications and data and simplify the roll-out of new customer service innovations as part of WBA’s digital transformation. The new, managed service will support the shift of business applications and data in the UK and Ireland to the cloud and will enhance the customer and employee experience by improving the reliability and performance of connectivity in the company’s stores, warehouses, distribution centres and support offices.

“We chose BT because we share a focus on delivering standout customer experiences,” said Steve Rempel, senior vice-president and international chief information officer at WBA. “Our digital plans demand full visibility, control and security of applications and data crossing our network, so we can join up in-store and online experiences for customers and colleagues alike.”

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