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BT's 'Chief Scientist' Quits

10:15 AM -- For those who follow BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) closely, the news, broken by UK publication Computer Weekly, that 'Chief Scientist' JP Rangaswami has left the operator "to pursue other opportunities" may elicit one of two responses.

One is that BT has lost an "ideas man," someone who could give the BT crew a new perspective on communications services and the use of open source software, one of his pet topics. (See this YouTube video, for example.)

In his heyday at BT, Rangaswami was one of a group of high-profile executives -- former CTO Matt Bross was another -- who presented a new vision of what a telecom operator could be in a Web 2.0 world. At that time, Rangaswami reported to Group CIO Al-Noor Ramji. (See BT Inches Toward Telco 2.0 and Telcos Soften Up.)

Now Bross, Ramji, and Rangaswami have all left BT. (See Bross Quits as BT's CTO, BT's New BIG SPITTER, and BT Names New Division Chief.)

The other response will be that his departure will make no difference, as he was one of a number of senior executives at the operator whose profile was greater than his impact on the business. I know some people (including some at BT) will be thinking this because they've shared this view (informally) in the past.

Having a title such as Chief Scientist (albeit unofficial -- he was actually managing director of innovation and strategy at the division formerly known as BT Design) can often generate that sort of reaction, of course.

The operator is obviously siding with the first response. In an emailed statement to Light Reading confirming Rangaswami's departure, it noted that since joining four years ago, he "made a significant contribution to the business."

BT isn't losing Rangaswami altogether, though, as he's staying on as chairman of BT subsidiary Ribbit, which specializes in Web-based unified communications. (See BT Leapfrogs to Web 2.0 With Ribbit , BT Buys Ribbit, and Googler Jumps to BT's Ribbit.)

And Rangaswami's views on the development of communications can still be seen at his blog, Confused of Calcutta, which may get more regular entries now he's no longer in the BT fold.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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