For the first time in ten years, Telefónica Deutschland is back at CeBIT with a large-scale stand. As a driver of digitization and the largest mobile communications provider on the German market by number of customers, the company presents its visions and products under the motto “#DesigningDigitalLife.”
In the interview below, published in the CeBIT news room , CEO Markus Haas, explains that, as an OnLife Telco, Telefónica Deutschland supports private and business customers in designing their digital lives according to their wishes and in making use of the opportunities of digitization.
1) Mr Haas, the smartphone is one of the strongest drivers of digitization. However, the best smartphone is all but useless without strong networks. What is the greatest challenge Telefónica has to overcome in the next years of digitization?
Markus Haas: Our aim is clear: We want to provide the best customer experience. Obviously, this includes excellent connectivity. For this reason, we are again investing around one billion Euros this year in enabling a first-class network experience for our private and business customers. According to our understanding, however, this also means offering products and services thanks to which our customers can design their digital lives according to their needs. To this end we have to further transform our company and digitize our processes entirely. In addition, the explosion of data on the market has opened up entirely new fields of business for us. As part of our business operations, an increasingly large number of customer data gathers, which we plan to process in an anonymized and aggregated – and by consequence secure and reliable – manner for the purpose of analysis. We are convinced that this enables us to create additional value for society and our customers as well as to open up new business opportunities. At the same time, we are highly aware of our responsibility in the interaction between precious data and protected data and with regard to our relationship of trust towards our customers.
2) The theme of this year’s CeBIT 2017 is “d!conomy – no limits.” What does “no limits” mean for you personally?
Haas: Due to the continuous progress of network technology, I have unlimited possibilities of using digital means to make life easier. Regarding the internet of things, we will see an enormous growth in connecting devices via Narrowband IoT. For instance electricity and water meters. Also for consumer applications, however, the internet of things will open entirely new dimensions in core areas such as mobility and health. This can only be beneficial for all of us. A connected shoe sole, a shirt tracking data or a dog’s collar that tracks a pet’s habits, are no longer a pie in the sky.
3) If technologies open up more and more possibilities – what does that imply for a company’s ethical and legal responsibility?
Haas: In all our activities we advocate for people to maintain sovereignty over their data. This is top priority for us. Plainly speaking this means giving them control of their data and increasing transparency. And with regard to data analysis: We specifically created a patented method of anonymization in three stages. This was designed in agreement with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and verified by external reviewers. We value highly the exchange with the relevant authorities. The same is true of the debates on these topics in society, which we openly encourage for instance in our Telefónica BASECAMP in Berlin, where we invite representatives of all social groups to take part in the discussion.
4) Which digital trend currently fascinates you most, apart from the core issues of your trade?
Haas: In general, I am fascinated by the possibilities brought about by artificial intelligence in cooperation with customers. With the fourth platform, the Telefónica Group presented a corresponding tool for cognitive intelligence at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This enables customers to gather information about products and services they use, keep an eye on their data usage, make service requests and manage access for devices – all in a natural manner and in an intelligent system. This helps us to better understand our customers and to provide them with an even better real-time service experience in the future.
5) What will you show at your CeBIT stand in hall 12 this year?
Haas: At our stand we will point out how, as an OnLife Telco, we help our customers design their digital lives according to their wishes. OnLife to us means accompanying our private and business customers in their digital lives according to their needs. In addition to offerings for business customers and new machine-to-machine applications like Smart Metering and tracking devices, we will also present the offerings of our subsidiary Telefónica NEXT. With regard to the internet of things for end consumers we will for instance demo a prototype for health-oriented clothing. Of course, start-ups from our accelerator Wayra and information about our network are also part of the showcase, as is an informative speaker programme on a designated stage at our stand, which focuses on the internet of things.