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Bross Quits as BT's CTO

Ray Le Maistre

Matt Bross, the high-profile and sometimes controversial chief technology officer (CTO) at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), has quit the British operator following an internal reorganization.

BT staff have been told that Bross has returned to the U.S. with his family and will be leaving the operator shortly. A BT spokeswoman tells Light Reading it was a "personal decision," and not related to any current organizational changes within the operator.

But Bross, who joined BT in 2002, will not be replaced, leaving BT without a CTO. (See Why Did BT Bring In Bross?)

So who's now in charge of BT's technology research strategy? The answer appears to be Al-Noor Ramji, the carrier's chief information officer (CIO), who joined the carrier in 2004, and who is already responsible for the carrier's network and application implementation. (See BT Names New OSS Boss.)

Here's the story.

Until recently, Bross, who was one of the main driving forces behind the operator's £10 billion (US$16.5 billion) 21st Century Network (21CN) project that was first unveiled in 2004, had been BT's Group CTO and the CEO of an internal division called BT Innovate. In that role he was responsible for the carrier's "technology strategy and the vision and direction of innovation across BT." (See BT Slows Down 21CN, Scraps Converged Service, Bross: More to Come on 21CN, and BT Moves Ahead With Mega Project.)

But on July 1, BT Innovate was merged with BT Design (the division set up in April 2007 to design and develop new services and run the 21CN transformation program) to create, logically enough, BT Innovate & Design.

According to a positioning statement on BT's Website, the new division "combines network and platform development with long-term technology strategy and research... [It] delivers strategic innovation and technology vision for BT through effective and coherent engagement with other parts of the BT organisation."

In effect, the new division is taking on the role of BT Innovate and the tasks previously undertaken by the Group CTO office, making it the home of technology research and innovation as well as day-to-day 21CN implementation.

BT Innovate & Design is headed by Ramji, who has a team of 15 business and technology executives reporting to him. Those executives include George Nazi (managing director of 21CN converged core) and JP Rangaswami (managing director of innovation and strategy).

The BT spokeswoman assures Light Reading that the reorganization was not the catalyst for Bross's departure, but she confirms that Ramji, who has been running the 21CN implementation program for the past two years, will be taking on some of the forward-looking responsibilities previously held by the CTO.

BT's decision to make its CIO the key technology executive is an interesting one that will likely be replicated by other carriers in the coming years, says Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie.

He says that while "the CTO still has the upper hand in most telcos" in terms of taking technology decisions and driving the network strategy, "the power is shifting towards the CIO... as the center of gravity in telcos shifts towards IT. This move looks like a reflection of BT's strategy to position itself as a company that's providing the network as a service, using next-generation OSS and opening up its network to third parties."

That strategy, incidentally, is one that Bross was instrumental in creating and promoting within BT and to the telecom sector in general. (See Telcos Soften Up, BT Inches Toward Telco 2.0, and Carriers Surf the Web 2.0 Wave.)

It's not known what Bross plans next.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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Mostly Harmless
Mostly Harmless,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:22 PM
re: Bross Quits as BT's CTO

...on Bross.

He's a clever guy, no doubt.  But I look back at those dodgy share deals in the past and wonder.  Then again, if I'd had the same opportunity I'm sure I would have done the same thing.

BT provides a number of example of apparent conflicts of interest in the last few years so I'm sure Matt's track record is nothing unusual.

And while his vision for 21CN is absolutely on the money, it must have been incredibly frustrating to continually have meetings with BT dinosaurs who would give him 15 reasons why anything he wanted to do was impossible.  The status quo culture in BT is endemic.

21CN execution has been a joke.  Nothing more, nothing less.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:21 PM
re: Bross Quits as BT's CTO

No need to bring up old news about stock, etc.  Looks like Ramij will be backed up Nazi.  Sounds like a real power play to me.  It use to be Bross's kingdom.  New politics for certain.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:16 PM
re: Bross Quits as BT's CTO
I agree on the stock issue - I thought that is why he went into USA Exile in the first place with BT.

Yes Matt was instrumental in the 21CN, and yes he will alos be know for his own politics and can take the title of marconi Killer and Chinese.

He will land where the OLD CEO of BT landed - they are a pair of XXXX.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:15 PM
re: Bross Quits as BT's CTO

VP Special projects at Huawei?

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:12 PM
re: Bross Quits as BT's CTO

Good suggestion..... I think CTO of Whoreway in the West is the a better fit for him. After all they have no Western executives to speak about,  so Matt would be a good fit plus good payback.


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