BBC puts £285m transition period down to ‘several unforeseen circumstances’

The BBC has explained that it will be paying Atos £285 million to transition the broadcaster to a service tower model for its new technology framework due to “several unforeseen circumstances”.

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The BBC has explained that it will be paying Atos £285 million to transition the broadcaster to a service tower model for its new technology framework due to “several unforeseen circumstances”.

Atos is currently the BBC’s major provider of technology and has held a £2 billion, ten year contract with the organisation. However, it was revealed last week that the BBC would be breaking this up and moving towards a service tower model – involving a variety of suppliers, including SMEs - that is managed by a newly formed in-house Service Integration and Management team (SIAM).

The contract is due to end in 2015, but the BBC has now signed a deal with Atos to transition the broadcaster to the new approach. This two year transition period up to 2017 will cost £285 million.

The BBC Technology Framework covers all of the broadcaster's major technology projects and all of its in house technology – ranging from telephony, to laptops, technology support, and broadcast technology.

The BBC has said that it believes that the transition period with Atos is the “most responsible approach”, which will reduce risks for the complex organisational change. However, it is not able to receive the services from another supplier, it said, without “major inconvenience”.

The broadcaster said that the need for the transition to a new approach is the result of a number of unforeseen circumstances, including advice from the market that the BBC should establish the SIAM first, rather than concurrently with procurements.

Furthermore, the BBC has updated its strategy with an increased emphasis on investment in audience-facing content.

It also said that there have been “changes within the senior leadership during the key planning phase”, citing the recent sacking of chief technology officer John Linwood.

Linwood was given the boot after it emerged that the BBC would be writing off its £125 million investment in its now cancelled Digital Media Initiative – which has in turn resulted in Linwood taking legal action against the broadcaster.

The BBC has defended its decision by stating: “Without this contract and associated re-phased procurement approach the BBC believes it would necessarily suffer major inconvenience risking running procurement procedures that are uncompetitive, uncertain and less likely to achieve suitable outcomes, thereby raising the prospect of failed procurements.”

Last week the BBC said that the new tower model will bring “maximum value for licence fee payers” and brings the following benefits to the organisation:

• Increased control over how services are performing and the ability to act quickly to improve them

• Working with specialist suppliers for specific services rather than one for all services

• Greater flexibility and access to new technology as it emerges

According to a document provided by the BBC, seven towers are being proposed for the new framework: technology service desk, end user compute, connectivity services, hosting platforms & services, business systems, production & broadcast services and distribution services.

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