Thomas Kiessling: making the right choice to support innovation

Deutsche Telekom isn't content to provide network provision - it wants to be a platform provider that enables startup innovation. Thomas Kiessling explains why, and how open wins…

Like other big telecoms businesses Deutsche Telekom is faced with some choices. There are so many potential business areas they could get into – how do they select which ones they get involved with?

Thomas Kiessling suggested that you have to understand your assets and capabilities. For them, that’s a trusted brand, and the ability to manage customer relationships at a large scale. They can focus on enabling new business areas. Look at the internet of things – all the data collected from internet of things devices needs to be stored and analysed in the cloud. They can focus on providing a platform to do that.

Machine to machine is already big business. They predict €140 billion volume by 2016. They can focus on providing the heavy duty infrastructure, and then leave it for the market to innovate at a consumer level. Forecasts suggest 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Energy is one key area – meters are becoming smart meters, and that will make energy consumption transparent. Industrial automation is simple use cases right now – connecting photocopies who ask for servicing or new toner. Or maybe connected cows, who can signal that their body temperature has gone up and they’ll give birth soon. Or logs that alert when they’ve been stolen…

Factories are silos right now. Once they’re connected, the information can be stored and analysed in a very secure way. They pushed this area forwards with IdeaBird – more the 600 M2M ideas submitted to a competition. Only 1% of data created by systems is analysed today. This will change. Health is one area where big data will make a huge impact.

The UP Singapore Hackathon  brought together smart city data from all aspects of the city, and ran a three day hackathon to come up with use cases for that data. Many of those projects are now in production. We all need to put our brain around smart cities and connected homes to make things better.

The cloud is where we go to store stuff. SMBs are underserved in the cloud – it’s still a nascent industry. Many of the employees use cloud services, but not in a co-ordinated way. That’s fine for the moment, but 70% of SMEs say they would like a cloud strategy. They’re worried about both security and manageability. Deutsche Telekom decided to provide a cloud platform for SMEs, working with people like and Microsoft.

Smart Home is another great opportunity. We’ve been talking about this for years, but nothing has really happened. The issue is: are people willing to pay for it? It’s a consumer use case, and what they’re most interested in is energy saving, but that’s not enough to make it a viable ecosystem. They’re going to launch a platform in September for this – with an SDK already available. That should allow people in the room to get innovating.

Connected car is – or will be – big. It could be a $600 billion market by 2020. It will unleash so many opportunities for services – free parking space detection or crowdsourcing, for example. Waze already crowdsources map and traffic. Things like this will get more and more common. Maybe your children will get information on the screen on the back of you seat, telling them how well you’re driving. Maybe insurance premiums will go up and down based on how good a driver you are.

Innovation is not happening in walled gardens, it’s happening in open ecosystems, stated Kiessling several times. He clearly sees the company’s future as a platform provider.

Mobile payments are happing now. They’re launching a mobile wallet later in the year in Germany. What will really drive this is when commerce kicks in – and that means context. Everything you carry in your wallet should just move into the smartphone; cards, cash, loyalty schemes and receipts – the works.. Again, they are concentrating on providing the backend systems – the platform – and letting startups create the consumer experience.

They concentrate on infrastructure, to allow us to concentrate on innovation.