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“I just starved the legacy, it was untenable anyway” BT’s CDIO Harmeen Mehta on taking mainframes to the cloud, data transformation and digital value

"Is there a path to accelerate the shit out of this?"

“Don’t be scared” says a friendly PR, sotto voce and apropos of nothing, as The Stack arrives at BT’s HQ for an interview with Chief Digital & Innovation Officer Harmeen Mehta. It’s an unexpected caution ahead of an interview not expected to be particularly terrifying, but Mehta, who is fiddling with a TV in the meeting room to try and get the cricket scores up, does have a charismatic presence; one that hints at the powerful character it takes to grip a stodgy telecommunications provider by the scruff of the neck, shake it until 2,400 applications are fewer than 500;  58 core stacks are 14, legacy IT costs have been halved and the company can deliver value-adding digital services for customers; no task for a shrinking violet. 

These were the targets Mehta put to the world during an 2022 investor day, lamenting an IT cost to revenue ratio “40% worse than other telco peers” and emphasising the extent to which a digital transformation is central to BT’s plans for the future – plans that include continued efforts to make £3 billion in annualised savings by the end of 2025, rethink internal structure and processes, capitalise on its vast but previously siloed datasets and introduce new digital services for its 30 million consumer and one million enterprise and public sector customers; a formidable challenge

Mehta makes for a engaging interviewee, frank and with a palpable sense of mission as she articulates BT's digital transformation. Scary? Only if you are a legacy application or particularly troubled by powerful women righting the ship. So, how's it going? (The transformation, not the cricket.)

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