Reflections on what we have learnt – making BT Panorama better

Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes, Chief Information Officer, BT

As chief information officer an unplanned technology outage is what keeps you awake at night.

In August 2021, while customer data and the back end of the platform were never compromised,  BT Panorama’s adviser and customer online systems experienced an outage, preventing digital access.

More than a year later, we still keenly feel this event and regret any affect it had on our customers - financial advisers - their staff and their clients.

And, while we acted quickly to waive customer fees, and attend to any customer impacts, we never want to see another outage like it again. What it has done is strengthened our resolve on BT getting it right and making improvements for our customers.

We took the opportunity to dissect our systems and look at our processes to be better.

Once the issue was resolved we moved to conducting post-incident assurance activities which included: root-cause analysis, examining design, coding, testing (stress testing) and production. The actions taken mean we are not only more resilient to any potential technology issues, but also as a business.

In speaking with our clients – practice principles, support staff, office managers and dealer groups – for decades, I know and respect the critical role that BT plays within the advice ecosystem. Technology projects large and small and ‘business as usual’ maintenance activity should be seamless for customers.  We have had a heightened focus on our development program and aiming to ensure optimum tech stability and availability. Practically, this means minimal down time with forewarning and notice to those affected.

Over the past year we have implemented an average of 140 changes a month to improve existing or add new functionality. We also introduced significant new features such as a service tracker for Panorama which gives users the option to monitor the status of their service requests at any time, where previously this could only be done via the phone during call centre hours. And we have more enhancements to come that will allow advice practices to spend more time with their clients.

We're doing everything we can to ensure BT Panorama supports advisers and their staff to service their clients. I’m pleased to report that since the outage, access to BT Panorama has been highly reliable with the platform running at 99.9% availability to advisers. We also have an exciting future as we look to deliver faster and more efficient upgrades, leverage AI to drive back-office efficiency and provide high-quality service, and digitally enabled support to advice practices.

During the outage we didn’t meet our customers’ expectations or our own. We have taken the opportunity to do better and we are always guided by our vision of enabling quality financial advice to thrive. As a consequence, BT is a better and more robust business.