BT launches industry first regulatory tool

As we first revealed in the September Orange Rag, BT Global Services (BTGS) has launched an automated regulatory and obligations risk assessment tool that it estimates will derive up to 2000% ROI in year one and is understood to be a first among its competitors.

The SharePoint-based tool, called Aurora (an acronym of the words that describe what it is above), means that BT sales personnel will in many cases no longer need to consult regulatory, contract or geopolitical lawyers and experts before entering a bid for work in a foreign jurisdiction.

BTGS has about 70 licenses to provide services in 70 countries but those licenses and the services permitted vary across jurisdictions. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Thomas Sunesson, BTGS director of commercial regulation, regulatory strategy and policy, who is leading the move, said: “The sales community needs to know what we can do in which country and where do we need to change our local proposal so we can comply with global regulatory law and still meet the customers’ demands.”

He adds: “We’re moving into a market based on cloud technology. The customer might be sitting in one country but the hardware in another; it’s not simple to assess if we can do something in one country. A salesman might open their laptop in Beijing but our service is being sold in Germany. It’s getting so much more complicated.”

BT enters around 5000 bids, or customer opportunities a year of which 1000 are ‘complex’ and 4000 are standard. Sunesson said: “Global Services has just 20 regulatory advisers based around the globe and it would be impossible for us to respond to all bids so for the sales community the assessment of regulatory and geopolitical issues has been an obstacle to closing down an opportunity quickly, which adds time and cost to the bid.”

Aside from delay, the fact that many of the bids are entered without consultation can result in SLA payments and customer disappointment, whereas Aurora will mean all 5,000 bids – aside from any that are exempt – can be addressed. “Instead of continuing down the path of asking the regulatory experts, contractual experts and geopolitical experts, we’ve created Aurora, which brings independent data sources together through a very simple interface,” Sunesson said.

Aurora, which took initial investment of £76,000 and is available to all BT staff globally, will, in addition to flagging the local licensing arrangements, also undertake an automatic assessment of the geopolitical risks and human rights and sanctions from the date of launch. It brings together data from BT’s product database including all the products that BTGS has launched around the world from VOIP to management services as well as a geopolitical list of countries likely to experience bribery and corruption.

Through a ‘red, amber, green’ system, sales staff must amend the bid to meet local requirements until the bid is given the green light. If staff need advice, the system lists the right people to contact.

Taking a ‘top down’ view of financial value, Sunesson estimates that the absolute minimum ROI in year one will be £1m, although his forecasts suggest that the sum will be significantly higher than that.

Sunesson said: “The initial response has been extremely positive: on the very day it was launched I had a bid lawyer contact me saying they had gone through this manually for a complex opportunity and it took days but with this tool it took hours.”

The tool also has the potential to alter the way BT wins work, allowing it to bid for work where it has a lower than normal chance of winning.

Ultimately, Sunesson hopes to integrate Aurora with BT’s SharePoint-based document assembly tool, so that sales personnel can gain authorisation and generate a contract instantaneously. Sunesson said: “My vision is not only do you get the information re licences but there’s also a button to press to get the right contract to sell those services to that customer in that country so we’re really shortening the bid journey: it used to be weeks and now you can do it in hours.”

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