Does the collaboration run smoothly when working from home? Do the networks remain stable and our customers solvent? And in the long term, will digitalization become a catalyst for the digitalization of our work, education and medical care? In a three-part series, we`ll talk about the impact of the pandemic - on Deutsche Telekom (Part 1), the telecommunications industry (Part 2) and our society (Part 3).
They are involved in challenging strategy projects from all business areas of an internationally renowned car manufacturer. Working for an external management consultancy, they carry out benchmark analyses in teams on customer site, evaluate scorings and calculation models and take part in expert interviews. They gain an insight into the management of one of the most successful football clubs and accompany internal transformation projects at one of the leading telecommunications providers: There's no doubt about it, the next participants in our gap year program "The Power of 4" can look forward to an exciting year starting in September 2020, before they begin their master studies in fall 2021. Four internships in twelve months - at Audi, the management consultancy Bain, FC Bayern Munich - and at CSP, Deutsche Telekom's inhouse consultancy. During two recruiting days in mid-May we assessed in profound individual interviews the applicants’ potential to become part of this program. While these interviews were planned to take place face-to-face, Covid-19 thwarted our plans and we had to switch to a fully virtual mode. Thereby, the candidates where asked this time to answer all our questions screen-to-screen.
Ensuring business continuity with remote working
Something that was hardly imaginable just a few weeks ago - a recruiting event taking place as a completely virtual event - is now almost routine after all the weeks my colleagues and I have been working from home. Weeks filled with video chats and phone calls instead of physical meetings and personal encounters with my colleagues and customers. I must admit: this kind of exchange and collaboration felt different than usual. However, the work went smoothly and contributed significantly to keeping our business going - thanks to stable networks, sophisticated collaboration software, and an unbroken high level of motivation on all sides. During this time, I was particularly pleased about the following: while this kind of collaboration led to a concentration of work, there was still room for a virtual Friday evening beer at the end of the week. A great start to the analogue weekend.
Using the opportunities of the crisis communicatively
In a nutshell: even if the full extent of the consequences cannot yet be fully assessed, one thing is certain for me: whether it is the cooperation with colleagues and customers, the communication about our products and solutions, the assurance of our network stability, or the recruiting process for interns or top managers: the corona crisis has already left its mark on business and society – also at Deutsche Telekom.
This development also influences the perception of our brand: on the one hand, as an ICT provider we have the opportunity to support companies and individuals, especially now, in times of the pandemic, and to communicate this appropriately: for example, by providing additional data volume free of charge, smartphones for retirement homes, programs from the streaming provider Disney+, the collaboration tools WebEx, Teams or Office 365. On the other hand, Deutsche Telekom also supports the German government to fight the virus by providing them with anonymized data in aggregated form. Beyond that, all employees of Deutsche Telekom have received two face masks.
Breeding ground for conspiracy theorists
At the same time, one aspect of our communication is now lacking which usually creates an emotional link to our brand: sports. The simple reason behind this is that many of these events are not taking place to the usual extent. This concerns us not only as a sponsor, but also regarding our program offer for Magenta TV.
Coincidently, the corona crisis is increasing the potential for destructive communication - for example regarding the 5G expansion: On the one hand, critics are calling for rapid network expansion, often combined with anger over dead spots. On the other hand, the crisis is becoming a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. Recently, 5G antennas have even burned in Great Britain and the Netherlands because some conspiracy supporters blame mobile phone radiation for the corona pandemic. Even if the groundlessness of these accusations is obvious: even such absurd allegations can quickly damage Deutsche Telekom's reputation. Particularly, as an important corrective measure was missing for quite some time: personal communication and advice via our customer shops.
16,000 customer advisors working at home
Our response to the pandemic-related, week-long closure of our stores: a rapid switch to online consulting and the integration of our call centers - combined with a considerable logistical effort. After all, we had to move 16,000 customer advisors from more than 50 service centers to their homes, while maintaining our service without any loss in efficiency for our customers.
Network passes the endurance test
Ultimately, this is also a proof that we are constantly developing ourselves in the field of digitalization - also in the interests of our customers: although Germany is often considered as lagging behind when it comes to network expansion and Deutsche Telekom being often cited as a reference, times of crisis show that the network can also withstand the currently very high level of strain. Thereby sufficiently covering private households, companies and their employees - something that has also been confirmed by the Federal Network Agency. Incidentally, we have this not only achieved thanks to a resilient infrastructure, but also due to flexible staff planning: we very quickly divided employees with critical positions – including our technical service - into teams to balance out potential gaps due to infections as best we could.
Hopefully this is another piece in the mosaic with which we can help our customers to keep their day-to-day business running as smoothly as possible even under the current circumstances.
In the second part of our mini-series, we look at the effects that the corona crisis is having on the ITC industry as a whole.
What are your experiences with the crisis? And what experiences, what insights will remain after the pandemic? We look forward to the exchange with you!
Does the collaboration run smoothly when working from home? Do the networks remain stable and our customers solvent? And in the long term, will digitalization become a catalyst for the digitalization of our work and education? In this three-part series, we're talking about the impact of the pandemic - on Deutsche Telekom (Part 1), the telecommunications industry (Part 2) and our society (Part 3).