An analysis of how people communicate across different media is feeding into BT's design process and products, providing important knowledge for development of future services.


  • The KTP provided an indexed and categorised digital catalogue of naturally occurring interactions across nine different media
  • It delivered a validated set of analysis tools that will be used by BT (British Telecommunications) beyond the lifespan of the project
  • It also led to a number of new product ideas, some of which are already under further development by BT.

"The future converged services offered by BT will take account of, and learn from, the unique and fine-grained analysis of real behaviour that the KTP project has given us." (Dr John Seton, Head of Customers and Market Research Venture)

About the research

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is one of Europe's leading providers of telecommunications services, broadband and internet products and services, and IT solutions. To complement in-house capability in design and usability testing of hardware, BT identified a need for additional expertise in sociology and social science; as well as being technically simple and easy to use, it is vital that the new services solve real problems for customers.

The company partnered with Surrey University on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to explore human patterns of communication across written, spoken and electronic media. The aim was to provide a body of knowledge that could be analysed and give insights into how converged services in the future could better meet customers' needs.

KTP Associate Dr Victoria Land analysed the interactions of participants via different media, including voice, email, SMS and instant messaging. This analysis provided detailed insights into how people communicate across different channels, the factors that influence people's choice of media, and other patterns of interaction. The results were organised into separate categories of user requirements and presented to several BT teams, in order to explore how these findings could impact on future design and best practice.