Imagine you're a content startup. You've just founded your company and don't have any products yet. But you've already hooked your first customer: COM, the Corporate Communications unit at Deutsche Telekom. Your mission: develop a product that supplies Corporate Communications with innovative content.
We presented this scenario to twenty students from universities in Leipzig, Hohenheim, Darmstadt, Hanover, Osnabrück, and Stuttgart. On a Friday and Saturday (March 9-10), we held a competition at the Telekom Content Factory: the "Telekom Content Challenge". Working in four teams, the students tackled current issues involving the evolution of corporate communications at Deutsche Telekom.
The teams only had around a day and a half to develop their products. In their working sessions, the students examined the issues from the customer's perspective, developed initial ideas, and then detailed them further in prototypes. They then thought about the specific situations in which the products might be used and what their teams needed to develop prototypes. The working groups were supported by a team of moderators who lent their assistance and creative methods to the students. Employees from Corporate Communications also gave the students insights into their everyday work and the workflows in the COM department.
Saturday afternoon was the final deadline: the teams held a pitch competition and each had exactly ten minutes to convince the judging panel of the merits of their prototypes. The panel was comprised of content experts who provided a number of different perspectives: in addition to myself, the members were Elfriede Schmitt-Jones (VP Communication Services) and our intern Julia Schubert, as well as Jeanne Kindermann (social media expert at Kienbaum) and Dr. Andreas Koller (Chief Digital Officer at Territory).
The most exciting things for us about this workshop weekend were the mix of creative methods, the talented young professionals, and their unbiased view of our Content Factory. The right ingredients for an inspiring weekend with lots of good ideas:
- A "Content Tinder" brings the right people throughout the Group together for a content project. As a result, the COM project organization is expanded to include the entire Group for specific content projects. A simple way to find out which topics are relevant and which ones aren't.
- The Content Lab serves as the interface between Content Factory and the Group – a small, agile unit alongside regular communications. This approach consolidates the expertise of employees who have a knack for developing content, regardless of where they work, their department, or their hierarchy level.
- The "Marketplace of Knowledge" is a digital platform for knowledge generation for COM employees. Topics, specialist departments, skills, and content are assigned keywords and made available to everyone at the company.
- And last but not least, the winning pitch "Revolute" with the idea of an Open YAM: This approach evolves you and me: from Deutsche Telekom's social intranet to become the largest company network in the telecommunications industry. To achieve this, it will be enhanced incrementally with new functions for coordinating topics and tasks and opened for collaboration with external stakeholders. It's the ultimate form of "think big". The team brought a lot of vision to this topic. It was very impressive and the justified winner.
Nothing against the performance of the other teams, of course: I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the students overall – both the quality of their concepts and their pitch presentations. All the teams acquainted themselves with the complex situation at COM quickly and they all rose to the challenges. When I think back to my own days as a student, I doubt I would have managed it.
I found it interesting that all the presentations suggested connecting Corporate Communications with the other departments and people at the company. That supports our concept of the "largest communications department in the world," in which every employee can become an authentic ambassador of the company. In detail, we can incorporate many of the proposed ideas directly in our discussions on the evolution of our you and me internal social network and the design for the "Content Hub". We have invited the winning team to attend the Telekom BarCamp in September, when they will have the opportunity to present their concept outside of the communications department as well.