When you think about products and services that use Artificial Intelligence (AI), do you think about Deutsche Telekom? Probably not. Yet we have lots of projects running throughout the Group relating to AI. We need to identify how this basic technology can improve our products further, simplify our processes, and support our staff. That doesn't make us an AI company, but it certainly does make us a company that is thinking intensively about the possibilities and opportunities of AI. And is already using AI productively.
Under the motto "AI-Driven Enterprise", at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) we will be presenting three examples illustrating how and where we at Deutsche Telekom deploy Artificial Intelligence.
The range includes consumer products such as the Connect app and "Hallo Magenta", the soon-to-be-launched smart speaker; chatbots; contract checking procedures in purchasing; and network expansion planning. Our corporate arm, T-Systems, employs tools for preventive maintenance, real-time journey time prediction in rail transportation, and much more.
At the MWC we will be presenting four very different projects
- Digital service assistant
The chatbot answers standard queries submitted by customers to the helpdesk at telekom.de/hilfe (German). The special challenge of any dialog involving chatbots lies in understanding the specific issues which customers are likely to formulate in widely differing ways. That is why in the past year, alongside developments in the overall field of automated dialog, we have focused especially on Natural Language Understanding. And we are achieving results: Handling approximately 130,000 chats a month, the bot is able to autonomously resolve 40 percent of all issues on average. Both those figures have doubled in just a few months.
- AI in building management
Here we are developing an AI to help boost the capacity utilization of our buildings, and so make savings. That is no small job, with 100,000 employees spread across numerous office buildings around Germany, all of whose needs have to be met in a flexible way. The AI processes a wide range of data characterizing our buildings to enable us to do so. The data covers aspects such as the buildings' capacity utilization, as well as their bus and rail transportation links. From the collated data, we are using AI to develop scenarios enabling us to improve the capacity utilization of our buildings. Ultimately it is people who make the decisions, but AI greatly speeds up and simplifies analysis for users.
- Optimization of mobile networks
Here AI is being used to automatically detect malfunctions in mobile communications networks. In the next step, AI will be used to analyze the technical issue causing the fault (such as overlapping radio signals and mutual interference). Based on this analysis, it will give recommendations as to how the fault can be eliminated.
- Planning for expansion of the fiber-optic network
With AI the planning will be significantly more rapidly and with shorter preparatory periods. Planning itself will be carried out with the help of a special vehicle that, via various sensors and laser-scanning technology, gathers precise data about the environments selected for expansions. The so-collected data will be translated into georeferenced 3D image data. The system learns to recognize landscape features, such as houses, grass, trees, etc., in terms of their planning relevance, and uses this capability to enhance the network planning process. Needless to say, the system is also able to incorporate available reference data such as street maps. As a result, the system can rapidly produce precise proposals for ideal routes for subterranean cables. The project is being carried out in cooperation with Fraunhofer.
I don't think there is a more exciting technology at present. Especially because AI offers enormous potential for businesses in widely varying sectors.
All AI projects are based on our self-imposed AI guidelines. They embody nine principles for the ethical use of AI formulated jointly by representatives from many departments. The key principles are transparency, reliability, and security. They promote what I consider to be the most important asset in creating successful AI: trust – on the part of our colleagues and our customers.
I think it is very good that we have established a framework and a set of key guiding principles in this respect – and we are in fact one of the first corporations worldwide to have done so. And we are thereby also helping to ensure that technology serves people. Because the potential of AI is enormous. I am excited to see what developments will occur in AI over the coming years – and what products and services we will be able to devise on the basis of them for the benefit of our customers and our business. Let's all engage actively in creating our AI future together!