“There’s a three-million-person job shortage when it comes to cybersecurity. The market is growing and that is why we need new skills in this area.”
– Andy Newman, head of BT Security
In an increasingly digital-first world, cyber-attacks are multiplying at an unprecedented rate. This worldwide threat knows no borders, which is why cybersecurity is such a fast-growing market. With a burgeoning portfolio of products and services, BT – the UK’s largest telecom provider and a Centrical client – is engaging employees on this topic, in particular teams driving sales of cybersecurity solutions.
Over the past six months, BT has seen a more than 50% increase in malware traffic, together with a global shortage of skilled security professionals. This increasing threat led the telecom giant to act. “There’s a three-million-person job shortage when it comes to cybersecurity. The market is growing and that is why we need new skills in this area,” explains Andy Newman, head of BT Security.
“We also needed to widen the level of expertise when it comes to security across the whole of BT. We’ve grown our business to over a £1 billion, and we want to double this in the next couple of years,” he said.
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing areas of BT, as the company provides managed security services to businesses and public sector organizations around the globe. And the sector Is evolving at pace. Employees need to be prepared for technical conversations about cybersecurity and field queries confidently and competently.
“We wanted to be able to give our staff the confidence to talk about security to the global customer base of BT,” says Andy.
The telecom giant has run multiple sales training and enablement programs to address this challenge and Centrical’s platform is foundational to execution. BT’s ‘Security Sales Excellence’ program, which began in early 2020, has been the most successful by far. In fact, BT and Centrical were named finalists in two categories recently for a Learning Technologies Award. The BT training program created an entirely new, fully digital learning experience.
The company implemented Centrical’s highly interactive gamification software to boost engagement and accelerate learning.
“Our platform is focused on employee success. When you have smart gamification, you first create motivation, there is also a focus on positive behaviors and creating positive rewards for the right behaviors and this is then a trigger for success – directing you to learn and be coached,” states Gal Rimon, CEO of Centrical.
A new way of motivating people
Courses are available online, at a time of people’s choosing, and are self-paced to allow people as long as they needed to complete the training. It also allows ‘micro-learning’, so that employees can take bite-size modules, five to ten minutes when they have the time to focus on training. It can also be accessed via mobile phones, laptops, or any other device.
“This was a new way of motivating people to learn at BT. It was voluntary. We needed to think differently about how to inspire employees to upskill themselves. This paradoxically increased take-up rates compared to previous similar training courses, which have been mandatory,” points out Andy.
The program focuses heavily on gamification – leveraging the competitive instincts often seen in the sales community to baseline results and incentivize staff to perform better than their peers. This also includes regular knowledge assessments conducted by other participants to check that learning modules were understood.
“We had people volunteering for this program from outside of sales, because of the way we developed it with micro-learning and gamification, there was also much wider interest,” says Andy. “The staff also gained an expertise on their resume or CV they never had before.”
Since the beginning of 2020, BT has put thousands of people through this training. Participants have ranged from company directors to back-office staff. The UK multinational has seen excellent results in the assessments carried out as part of the scheme, and a material impact on sales metrics. Completion rates for training programs have soared to 97%.
“We’re continuing to roll this out more widely across BT, too, as this kind of approach is key to enabling employees to talk to their customers about new and developing services. We know that being knowledgeable and confident in how employees carry out their job has a huge positive impact on morale and productivity, and this program has played a crucial role in supporting this across our security professionals,” points out Newman.
“The result? We are seeing a massive increase in new security opportunities from customers that we had never seen before,” he said.
About the author
Duncan MacPherson leads the Centrical sales team in EMEA.