FOUR AREAS OF INNOVATION
Where does innovation come from? Everywhere. That’s why it is important to ensure all of our innovation activities take place at an intra-Group level and are aligned strategically. Our four inter-related innovation areas – consumer products, business customer products, network/infrastructure, and processes/service – provide a consistent framework that can be applied across the Group.
4+1 – OUR FORMULA FOR INNOVATION
In addition, for our innovations to be successful we must focus on just a handful of areas – but we have to choose the right ones. True to this approach, in the reporting year we reduced the number of major innovation areas from 64 to five. We parted ways with some projects (like the Tolino eReader), and put an end to work on others (such as payment).
The resulting formula for innovation is now 4+1: the Group’s five prioritized areas of innovation.
The 4+1 topics are handled on an intra-departmental basis and in close cooperation with the segments:
- Home: Customers see for themselves what the seamless convergence of next-generation products and services can offer in the connected home, for an outstanding customer experience. Fully integrated, user-friendly IPTV/Entertain, SmartHome, and Smart Voice Hub services and devices interplay automatically and seamlessly and are simple and intuitive to use.
- Telekom connectivity: We create a unique connectivity experience by managing different access technologies, from Wi-Fi to 5G, seamlessly to give our customers access to digital services and content everywhere – simply, securely, and in top quality.
- Internet of Things (Narrowband IoT): Narrowband IoT technology is a new type of narrowband communication between “things” in which small volumes of data are transmitted over extended periods of time. Narrowband opens up the door to countless new M2M and IoT applications for our business customers, while being more cost efficient, powerful, and resource-friendly than existing M2M solutions. 12
- Digital customer care (eCare & eSales): By integrating artificial intelligence into customer service, we free up capacity to focus on further improving customer care and interaction.
- 5G/low latency: This area of innovation stretches further into the future and forms the basis for the real-time communication that is key to innovative applications in the virtual and immersive Internet of the future – like self-driving cars, robotics, Industry 4.0, and ever-more realistic virtual reality.
The first four fields are directly related to our core business and the four innovation areas. They generate directly measurable added value in the form of additional revenues and improved customer satisfaction. In contrast, with 5G/low latency we are driving forward a disruptive innovation field for our Group that has the potential to radically and permanently transform existing markets and business models. The development timeframe in this context is substantially longer than for the first four innovation areas. All five are reviewed each year to ensure that we continue to concentrate on the right topics.
In the reporting year, we already brought several promising product and service innovations to market under the 4+1 model:
In home innovations, we integrated the QIVICON Home Base functionalities directly into the router so that customers now only need one piece of equipment. The Speedport Smart, launched mid-May, features SmartHome functionalities. The Magenta SmartHome app for Apple and Android was updated in December 2017 to further improve the customer experience in terms of controlling and automating the connected home. The app can now be connected to more than 200 machines and devices for energy-efficient operation, including state-of-the-art equipment such as the smart smoke detector Nest Protect and the latest Osram lights. We also offer the ERGO emergency service to assist in situations where residents cannot be contacted. What is more, Volkswagen owners can now control their SmartHome solution directly via their on-board infotainment system.
In the Telekom Connectivity area of innovation, we developed the CONNECT app for the German market. CONNECT enables users to transition smoothly and smartly between networks and logs into HotSpots and Wi-Fi networks automatically while ensuring full control over costs and speed. This is just one of the ways in which we ensure customers benefit from the best connectivity and the best customer experience. 13
We continued our pioneering role in the Internet of Things (IoT) innovation area in the reporting year. T-Mobile Netherlands celebrated a world premiere by being the first company to roll out Narrowband IoT technology nationwide. In Germany, too, we launched our first Narrowband IoT service packages and built out the availability of narrowband IoT networks in all of our footprint markets. Several pilot projects with corporate customers in the areas of smart metering, smart parking, and asset tracking are already up and running.
Our new digital customer care assistant at T-Mobile Austria, Tinka, helps customers online and via Facebook to use our products and services intuitively and can answer questions on products and services. Tinka started life as a text-based chatbot in 2016. We then incorporated artificial intelligence elements in 2017 to enable her to interpret and correctly respond to more complicated questions. Since mid-2017, a digital, artificial intelligence-equipped assistant has also been available around the clock to answer German customers’ questions on technical problems. The assistant relieves the burden on service colleagues of responding to routine inquiries and frees up valuable time to deal with customer concerns in person.
As part of our long-term focus on innovation in the area of 5G/low latency, we are laying the groundwork for the digital world of tomorrow. Our showcase of 5G-enabled robotics demonstrated, for example, at Mobile World Congress 2017 how robots can interact efficiently and synchronously using 5G network technology and low latency.