Three-pronged innovation strategy

We set ourselves apart from the competition and generate growth in three ways:

  1. In-house developments
  2. Partnerships
  3. Start-up funding

1. In-house developments

The establishment of our Strategy & Technology Innovation unit (S&TI), Product Innovation & Customer Experience unit (PIC), and Innovation Hub (IHUB), the optimization of our structures, and our cultural transformation – all these had a key positive impact on our priorities in 2019, as the following examples show:

  • Delivery innovation: is already available in eight cities across Germany; 450 5G antennas are transmitting data in our network (as of the end of December 2019). Our national company in Austria launched Europe’s first 5G network in March 2019. The Digital Service Assistant (AI ) is constantly evolving and receiving more and more positive customer ratings.
  • Customer innovation: The Smart Speaker and MagentaGaming beta were launched at IFA and Gamescom in the third quarter of 2019.
  • Industry innovation: Nine pilot projects are currently in progress for industrial campus networks in Germany and our footprint countries in Europe.
  • Technology innovation: We have defined a Network Differentiation strategy that will serve as a basis for accelerating our transformation into a software-based telecommunications provider, and we have already taken key initial steps to implement this strategy.
  • Transformation: We are implementing new-skilling initiatives for more than 1,500 employees.

Thanks to our centralized research unit, Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs), we have access to our own R&D centers. At our T-Labs locations in Berlin, Darmstadt, Be’er Sheva, Budapest, and Vienna, we are surrounded by universities, start-ups, potential investors, research institutes, and other companies’ innovation centers – all of them of international standing. In collaboration with them, T-Labs is conducting R&D into the interfaces between science and entrepreneurship, with a view to shaping the future in the key areas of Blockchain, Intelligence, Experience, and Academia as a Service. T-Labs is solving specific customer problems, enhancing Deutsche Telekom’s innovative strength, and tapping into the topics of the future. T-Labs’ motto in all it does is: Disrupt. Make. Connect. SDG 9

  • Blockchain focuses on two aspects. The first is examining blockchain technologies to develop solutions for internal issues at Deutsche Telekom. A specific example is , where we have implemented a prototype for creating, signing, and billing contracts together with other telecommunications companies. The second is using the blockchain as infrastructure. One example of this is the pilot e-mobility platform Xride. Xride is powered by a blockchain operating stack, called Ståx. Ståx enables decentralized, trusted, and secure ecostructures by connecting blockchain technologies to create a single ecosystem stack and making them easy to handle by, and between, the enterprises involved. Structures like these are crucial to development of the economy, where producers and consumers connect in a decentralized manner and share trusted data.
  • Intelligence relates to all aspects of teaching cognitive abilities to machines. The resulting artificial intelligence is defined as the imitation of human intelligence or intellectual processes by computer systems. Such processes include learning, drawing conclusions, and automatic correction. T-Labs’ main focus is on developing innovations that are thematically related to the requirements of a telecommunications provider and that help automate or optimize its infrastructure, processes, or products. Its research is focused on the following: communication networks (so as to optimize network planning for the rollout of new technologies such as fiber optic or ); (in order to protect Deutsche Telekom’s customers and its own infrastructure); and quantum AI (to enhance both the speed and quality of machine learning processes).
  • Experience enables users to experience smart media and progress in extended-reality technologies (XR), and draw benefit from integrated smart-city solutions. The services developed by the Experience team reflect the quest to satisfy the future needs of society. The Experience team collaborates with scientists, businesses, and other partners to shape both the customer journey for every product and the value added by every service.
  • Academia as a Service was launched by T-Labs as an active research network aimed at fostering global academic partnerships, e.g., by starting pilot projects or putting Academia partners into contact with Deutsche Telekom stakeholders. T-Labs’ active promotion of university partnership programs assists Deutsche Telekom’s HR department in recruiting talented new employees and helps strengthen the corporate brand in the R&D community. What is more, Academia as a Service is responsible for striking a balance between ongoing research in current focus areas and disruptive topics that arise unexpectedly. In this way, it makes a positive contribution to Deutsche Telekom’s strategy.

2. Partnerships

We draw on the expertise and abilities of our partners in order to implement the digital transformation. For example, we rely on the tremendous innovative energy coming out of Silicon Valley, Israel, Germany, and other innovation hotspots across the globe. The following are some examples of successful partnerships:

  • CityTree: As part of its Smart City strategy, Deutsche Telekom has entered into a partnership with Green City Solutions, a pioneer in the field of green technology. The core product of this partnership is CityTree, the world’s first biotech filter made of moss. It improves air quality in urban areas and springs from the idea of combining nature with cutting-edge IoT technology. The two partners collaborated to develop a new version of CityTree and to combine the IoT technology with the latest network and mobile communications technology. SDG 13
  • WalkMe: We have added a new partner to our cloud ecosystem: WalkMe, a specialist in the digital transformation of enterprises. With its Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), WalkMe has become one of the fastest-growing software companies worldwide. DAP was developed to help companies streamline their work processes and to lower the costs they incur to develop, deliver, and run web and mobile apps – both for their customers and themselves. The platform puts a company’s employees in a position to roll out new software and processes quickly, easily, and efficiently, thus raising levels of acceptance all round. Our customers can benefit from our own experience in integrating WalkMe, which enables us to offer them comprehensive advice and support when rolling out the platform.
  • StreamOn: Depending on their rate plan, our customers can stream music and videos, use social media on the move, and enjoy online gaming without having to worry about using up the high-speed data volume included in their plan. Several million StreamOn customers in Germany and other European markets are already benefiting from the more than 440 partner services on offer.
  • We have taken digitalization another step forward with our partners and ADAC, launching a digital ADAC breakdown service as part of the CarConnect app. CarConnect is set to make driving safer all over Europe. In the event of a breakdown, drivers can, with just a few clicks of the app, get assistance from the ADAC breakdown service anywhere in the European Union. The vehicle’s location is transmitted automatically, meaning the driver no longer has to make a call.
  • The partnership with PayPal enables our subsidiaries to offer their clients the best customer experience for digital payment processes. The payment function is a key component of One App, the service app that has been launched across Europe. The partnership helps the Group achieve its goals as regards cost efficiency, digitalization, and customer experience. PayPal’s platform also supports the seamless integration of future e-commerce/marketplace services and new payment methods such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

3. Start-up funding SDG 9

As Deutsche Telekom’s leading start-up program, the tech incubator hubraum puts external start-ups in touch with the relevant business units in our Group, so that together they can offer innovative products to consumers and business customers. To this end, hubraum provides the start-ups with seed financing from its own investment fund and targeted innovation programs geared to our strategic growth areas and technologies.

Since founding hubraum in 2012, we have set up a strategic investment portfolio of over 25 companies and worked together closely with around another 300 start-ups from Europe and Israel in areas such as the real-time gigabit society (e.g., 5G and edge cloud), the smart data economy (e.g., AI and process automation), and the (e.g., NB-IoT and Industry 4.0). The hubraum Campus at our site in Berlin has been upgraded and, among other things, now offers one of the first 5G networks in Europe and edge cloud infrastructure. Besides coworking office space and mentoring, start-ups now also have exclusive access to our Group’s networks, product platforms, and test data to help their business develop faster. Initial results include the implementation in 2019 of 16 projects on the new infrastructure as part of the hubraum edge and 5G prototyping programs. These are set to continue in 2020. In addition, the Consumer IoT program generated five implementation projects with eSIM solutions that are to be marketed as products by our national companies in 2020.

In the following, we describe two examples each from the 5G and IoT-eSIM innovation programs:

  • uses augmented reality (AR) to offer sports fans an even more attractive experience, by enabling them to access live data on teams and players during match broadcasts. The interaction of AR and live tracking data calls for extremely low latencies – which is where 5G comes into its own.
  • E&K Automation is one of the leading manufacturers of automated vehicle systems for the European market and offers smart, efficient, and cost-optimized intralogistics and transportation robotics solutions. Edge computing promises lower latency for time-critical aspects of transportation robot control (e.g., recognizing obstacles) and can protect industrial customers’ sensitive internal data. With low latency and high bandwidths, 5G expands the potential of robots in the direction of artificial intelligence.
  • Croatian start-up Greyp teamed up with Deutsche Telekom to present its new e-bike at IFA. The connected bike is equipped with cameras, an on-board computer, and fitness accessories. Its motor output can be adjusted, for example, to suit the rider’s heart rate and level of activity. The special thing about this e-bike is its uninterrupted internet connection using eSIM technology. A embedded in the system transmits data between the bike and an app.
  • Neebo by Daatrics is a prime example of a product developed to solve an existing customer problem. Founder and CEO Andrey Khayrullaev could not find a baby monitoring system in the market to match his requirements as regards child safety. What is special about the solution developed by Neebo and Deutsche Telekom is that it uses both eSIM and -M, enabling a direct connection to the cloud and making the device independent of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. SDG 3
New communications standard, which offers data rates in the gigabit range, converges fixed-network and mobile communications, and supports the Internet of Things – rollout starting 2020.
A bot (short for robot) is a computer program that processes repetitive tasks in a largely autonomous manner without the need for interaction with a human user.
Refers to the business of selling services to third parties who sell them to their own retail customers either directly or after further processing.
Refers to the use of a communication device or just a subscriber identity in a visited network rather than one’s home network. This requires the operators of both networks to have reached a roaming agreement and switched the necessary signaling and data connections between their networks. Roaming comes into play when cell phones and smartphones are used across national boundaries.
IoT - Internet of Things
The IoT enables the intelligent networking of things like sensors, devices, machines, vehicles, etc., with the aim of automating applications and decision-making processes. Deutsche Telekom’s IoT portfolio ranges from SIM cards and flexible data rate plans to IoT platforms in the cloud and complete solutions from a single source.
M2M - Machine to Machine
Communication between machines. The information is automatically sent to the recipient. For example, in an emergency, alarm systems automatically send a signal to security or the police.
New communications standard, which offers data rates in the gigabit range, converges fixed-network and mobile communications, and supports the Internet of Things – rollout starting 2020.
Protection against internet crime.
IoT - Internet of Things
The IoT enables the intelligent networking of things like sensors, devices, machines, vehicles, etc., with the aim of automating applications and decision-making processes. Deutsche Telekom’s IoT portfolio ranges from SIM cards and flexible data rate plans to IoT platforms in the cloud and complete solutions from a single source.
SIM card - Subscriber Identification Module card
Chip card that is inserted into a cell phone to identify it in the mobile network. Deutsche Telekom counts its customers by the number of SIM cards activated and not churned. Customer totals also include the SIM cards with which machines can communicate automatically with one another (M2M cards). The churn rate is determined and reported based on the local markets of the respective countries.
LTE - Long-Term Evolution
New generation of 4G mobile communications technology using, for example, wireless spectrum on the 800 MHz band freed up by the digitization of television. Powerful TV frequencies enable large areas to be covered with far fewer radio masts. LTE supports speeds of over 100 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream, and facilitates new services for cell phones, smartphones, and tablets.