Case study on the management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between BIT Group and Aston University, funded by Innovate UK.

About BIT Group

BIT Group is a multi-award-winning information technology company headquartered in the South West of England offering high-quality IT, cyber and information security services and digital apprenticeships. The company has a 19-year track record of working with businesses and government organisations nationally and internationally.

The challenge that the management KTP was set up to address

BIT Group’s goal is to become a world-leading cyber security education, training and technology solutions provider, with a focus on managing outsourced cyber security services for its customers. It seeks to develop new income streams by enhancing and growing the range of cyber security services, training and apprenticeships, and technology platforms offered through its Security Operation Centre.

This transformation involves adapting and streamlining how BIT Group operates, and embedding skills so the company’s growth and future profitability can be sustained.

BIT Group’s challenge is to apply the latest thinking in management science to review its current operations, improve its range of services, develop new business models, shift its culture to focus on innovation, and align its marketing, innovation, and operations strategies.

Why a management KTP is the ideal route

Management KTPs support companies to increase their effectiveness and improve results by developing and adopting better management practices.

To drive BIT Group’s product development and change management efforts, the company requires input from highly experienced business strategists with in-depth knowledge of cyber security management.

A management KTP with Aston University’s Cyber Security Innovation (CSI) Research Centre provides BIT Group with access to the University’s state-of-the-art knowledge in cyber security management, such as business continuity, incident response and risk management. In addition, the centre’s expertise in cyber security technology development is supporting the company to critically review potential new products and services.

As a member of the UK’s Cyber Security Council, Aston University’s CSI Research Centre is ideally placed to enable this transformation. The Centre delivers industry-aligned cyber security research outcomes through its £9 million research portfolio. It serves as a national focal point for cyber security management and cyber resilience, bringing together industry, government and globally-recognised academics to address real-world challenges in cyber security.

A KTP Associate has been recruited to act as a bridge between the two partners and is based at BIT Group’s Cambridge site. An MBA graduate of Aston University Business School, the KTP Associate supports BIT Group to build on their existing partnership with the Business School, providing the management KTP with expertise in change and knowledge management.

Aston University Business School is one of the UK’s leading business schools for supporting small to medium enterprises (SMEs). It is included in the one per cent of business schools in the world bearing a triple crown of accreditations from the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). Based in the Business School, the Cyber Security Research Centre is one of the few award-winning female-led cyber security centres in the UK. 

What is changing as a result of the KTP?

By blending academic knowledge, frameworks, industry insights and the support of highly qualified cyber security instructors at Aston University, the partnership enables the University to transfer management knowledge and practices into BIT Group that can be sustained after the project ends.

The management KTP is enabling BIT Group to:

  • Be a key part of BIT Group business strategy consulting team, focusing on supporting suppliers and project developers in making strategic decisions about new markets, new service lines and spin off activities.
  • Analyse industry data to understand where to invest resources in the next three years.
  • Develop and operationalise a growth strategy to transform the business.
  • Utilise tried-and-tested frameworks to develop and enhance products and services.
  • Review how customer data is used to inform business decisions that are focused on customer needs.
  • Understand how generative artificial intelligence can drive marketing and content development.
  • Transform organisational culture in a way that considers existing staff attitudes and business operations.
  • Identify the mix of skillsets needed in its workforce to sustain future growth.

For example, the partnership has supported the development of a new managed clearance service for an aerospace industry client, which incorporates right-to-work checks. The KTP Associate has been instrumental in product development and marketing, and the service is now ready to go to the wider market.

Broad benefits and impacts for all partners

BIT Group:

For BIT Group, the partnership integrates a KTP Associate into the business with experience and knowledge from a range of large international organisations. This focus and drive enables the company to significantly enhance their approach to product development, organisational management, business development and client acquisition. This will deliver rapid new income streams for the business to drive growth and improve profitability.

The KTP Associate is conducting a range of operational audits to inform an enhanced model for business delivery. This will be deployed in a way that is sensitive to the existing organisational culture.

Aston University:

For Aston University, this industry partnership enhances academic knowledge of cyber security management by adding depth and applied learning. In addition, Aston University Cyber Security MBA students have access to the BIT Group management KTP as a working case study. Through this, they will gain critical, real-world insights into cyber security that will enrich their learning experience and prepare them for their future careers.

The KTP Associate:

The KTP Associate is gaining significant experience in business management through a collaborative working approach in the areas of contracting, product development, business intelligence and strategy, marketing, negotiating, and leadership decision-making.

What the partners say

Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy, Deputy Director of the Cyber Security Innovation Research Centre, Aston University:

“This management KTP allows us to leverage Aston University’s critical mass of expertise in cyber security management from our industry-aligned research and consultancy to enhance BIT Group’s services, business delivery model and go-to-market strategies.”

Kumara Swamy, KTP Associate:

“Having worked across a range of large businesses, and recently completed an Aston University MBA, this management KTP gives me the freedom to apply my skills, industry knowledge and creativity to develop and deliver solutions that will drive transformation in a small business.”

Michael Dieroff, CEO, BIT Group:

“As CEO of BIT Group, I am immensely proud of our partnership with Aston University through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership. This collaboration not only enriches our company with cutting-edge business insights but also marks a significant milestone in our journey towards industry leadership. By integrating Aston University's advanced research capabilities and our innovative spirit, we are setting new standards in cyber security solutions and redefining our market approach. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to excellence and our dedication to delivering unparalleled value to our clients and stakeholders.”

Sam Snowdon, Chief Marketing Officer, BIT Group:

“We wish to accelerate the growth of our small company. Welcoming such a knowledgeable KTP Associate into the team, as well as accessing the latest management thinking from Aston University, is enabling us to rapidly develop expert-driven strategies to move our cyber security products and services forwards. Alongside new operational practices to enhance productivity, this project is a catalyst for transformation and growth across the business.”