X marks the spot as BT copies Telia’s Division X idea

X marks the spot as BT copies Telia’s Division X idea

Marc Overton BT X.jpg

BT has copied Telia’s idea by setting up a “division X”, where it will concentrate work on new technologies.

The UK company said that Marc Overton (pictured), with Sierra Wireless until November 2021, will be managing director of Division X from 14 February.

Overton said: “Division X is set to be a key growth engine for BT’s enterprise business, moving it from a telco to a tech co by expanding into adjacent services which go beyond traditional calls and lines.”

BT has borrowed the name directly from Telia, whose Division X is headed by Brendan Ives, former CEO of Telia Carrier. Ives moved to Telia X in August 2016, to run a unit whose mission is “the creation of a new generation telco by exploring, building, commercializing and scaling new growth opportunities”.

Telia X focuses on internet of things (IoT), digital health, data insights “and a whole raft of things we haven’t even thought of yet”. Last month it sold Telia Digital Health, part of the Telia X portfolio. 

Intriguingly – though likely not connected – Telia group CEO Allison Kirkby is a non-executive director of BT.

BT says its Division X will “commercialise the development of unique customer solutions incorporating components such as 5G private networks, IoT, and edge computing, amongst others”.

Overton said: “We’ll be focused on turning emerging tech like 5G, IoT, edge and AI [artificial intelligence] into solutions that we can scale, sell, and which will drive sustainable growth.”

His unit is part of BT’s enterprise business, whose CEO, Rob Shuter, said: “Marc’s breadth of global experience across mobile and digital platforms, together with his proven ability to transform the latest tech innovations into scalable customer solutions, made him the ideal candidate to lead Division X.”

Much of Overton’s career has been in the mobile wholesale sector, as VP of new business, wholesale and strategy at Orange, when it was a UK company, and then VP of wholesale and IoT when that became EE, following the merger with T-Mobile UK.

He’s since worked for Cisco’s IoT operations before joining IoT specialist Sierra Wireless, most recently as chief solutions officer and senior VP for EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

BT said the new division “will provide the foundations to fuel the digital transformation of high growth industries such as healthcare, transport and logistics, putting BT at the heart of building the UK’s economic recovery”. It added: “Division X will also manage BT’s portfolio of specialised businesses.”

Overton said: “I’m really excited to be leading a unit which will act as an innovation hub for our enterprise customers.”

Shuter said: “Through Division X we’ll co-create and productise solutions working directly with them so they can get the most out of the latest tech.”



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