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Jana Hitzel

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Design, improve, provide feedback: Deutsche Telekom’s Ideenschmiede

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Deutsche Telekom’s Ideenschmiede is a central location where customers and non-customers of all ages and from all interest groups can submit their ideas and suggestions for all things related to Deutsche Telekom and, as a result, help to shape and improve Deutsche Telekom’s products, services, and processes.

My guest today is Lara Löhrer. She is the project manager of the Ideenschmiedeand is going to tell us what the Ideenschmiede is, what work is carried out there, and what chances you have to take part.

Hello Lara. It’s great that you’re here. Please tell us about the Ideenschmiede: Who are you and how did the name come about?

Lara: The name “Ideenschmiede” came from the fact that ideas can be compared to horseshoes. The best time to shape them is when they are still hot or when the ideas are still being developed. So you can say that the procedure can be compared to the work of a blacksmith. However, an important difference is that the Ideenschmiede is not scared to put cold iron back into the fire again (i.e., existing Deutsche Telekom products and services). We are constantly asking ourselves how we can make our services even better or easier through ideas and feedback from our customer community.

Young man pushes a shopping trolley in which a young woman is sitting.

We collect different perspectives and opinions in order to achieve better results.

Wow, thank you! That’s a really clear metaphor. You just mentioned Deutsche Telekom’s existing products and services. To what extent are your part of Deutsche Telekom and which compay do you belong to?

Lara: Deutsche Telekom’s Ideenschmiede is a crowd-sourced co-creation project at Telekom Deutschland and is part of Ferri Abolhassan’s Sales & Service unit. Crowdsourcing refers to the collection of ideas and feedback as well as the involvement of many different people. Through this method, we can make use of various perspectives, preferences, as well as specific abilities in order to best process (even complex) solution options. We can proudly say that almost 15,000 members are currently registered with us (status: April 2021). This approach, from the Service unit perspective, allows the Ideenschmiede to support all of the specialist departments at Deutsche Telekom who want to integrate customer opinions into their development processes or simply wish to interact with the community. 

15,000 members is a remarkable figure. What do I need to do if I want to be part of this community?

Lara: It’s very easy: Register on our website and you can get started right away! Our community is open to all – any age, any gender, technology expert or technology novice. Everyone can contribute to making Deutsche Telekom even better in the future and, of course, benefit from the improvements themselves.

Great, thanks! That sounds exciting, varied, and innovative. But I’d really like to ask one more question: You are full of new ideas and innovations but how do you organize this during the coronavirus pandemic?

Lara: Yes, that's right. The pandemic is also affecting us and determines our daily working routine. At the same time, it means we have to think about new working ways and methods and implement them. In fact, we all work together in an open-plan office located opposite the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn. Due to the current situation, we are now working from our respective home across the Cologne-Bonn region and as far as the Ruhr area in some cases. However, various virtual collaboration tools mean that we can pretty much work together remotely as well.

To ensure we remain close to our community and potential new members, we took part in many events across Germany in the past. And now we come together via our virtual workshops, for instance. In the Telekom workshops, we collaborate creatively with community members – usually with design thinking methods – on certain questions. We are also impressed how well this works and how well the offering has been received.

Thank you for your insights, Lara. I am delighted to hear that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, you are able to organize your work well and maintain the active community work. Of course, I am interested in getting to know what projects you are currently working on. I will also go a little bit more into detail about the community concept in our next meeting. And what a former participant of our CMD+O university campaign has to do with it will be revealed in the next article. I'm looking forward to it.

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