„Generation #DABEI“

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Why Deutsche Telekom advocates more optimism for the future ... A contribution by Hans-Christian Schwingen, Head of Brand at Deutsche Telekom.

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Hans-Christian Schwingen, Chief Brand Officer at Deutsche Telekom.

Going by the current geopolitical and social trends, there is little to be positive about in today's world. Yet pessimism is simply not an option. It's the equivalent of mental surrender and ends in a virtual standstill. Already Franklin D. Roosevelt warned, "that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

More optimism about the future

It would be nice to see a little more optimism about the future here and there. After all, the world has never been as technologically connected as it is today. And that's where Deutsche Telekom comes in. Nobody is likely to dispute that our networks form the basis of these connections. They are – and I don't think this is overstating the matter – the arteries of the digital revolution. Networks are essential to the prosperity of coming generations. There are no real walls in the digital world. Digital connectivity needs to reach every last corner. Only this way can isolation be broken down, can knowledge be spread, beyond national and cultural boundaries. Equal participation in social, economic and cultural life is at the center of our efforts, now more than ever before. 

According to a study by the Shelton Group, 86 percent of consumers expect companies to take a clear stance on contemporary issues. Crucially, this positioning must also be reflected in a company's actions. Because business mandates and social responsibility are inextricably linked. Many of the "attitude campaigns" used by companies to improve their customer image feel borrowed. They patch over the symptoms, but don't look at the causes. To put it bluntly: Using gay people and people of colour in advertisements and then claiming to promote diversity and be anti-xenophobic is simply not enough.

Social cohesion is putting at risk

It's no wonder we see so much frustration that often reaches boiling point in the form of anger and even aggression, irrespective of political views, gender, ethnic background, or religion. This trend not is only threatening the free and democratic order, but is also putting social cohesion at risk by easing the path for a retreat back to authoritarianism. And what can a company credibly do to counter this? That's what we at Deutsche Telekom are working hard to find out. The fact is that people are feeling increasingly out of their depth and powerless. And we have to focus it. They fear that they will be unable to keep pace with the progress of digitalization and with a high-tech future; that they will lose touch. Incidentally, the media is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to propagating this gloomy outlook. We must help these people to regain their self-confidence and nurture their self-efficacy. Access to the wide-ranging possibilities of the digital world – in the best network, with the best products and the best service – is a fundamental part of this. 

We will only be happy once everyone can #DABEI (take part) and nobody feels left behind. That's why Deutsche Telekom spends billions of euros every year on building out its networks: in both urban and rural areas, to consumer households and business parks, and to educational institutions. Participation is our central aspiration, and is a long-term part of our communication. Because the outcome is what matters. 

Participation as a central goal

U.S. business magazine Fast Company recently wrote that brand-building has always been key to making impersonal industrial processes, technologies, and corporate organizations relevant and relatable to people – especially in cases where there’s little functional difference between one corporation’s products and services and its competition’s. Brands are the human face of an industry and the primary mechanism businesses use to make unique, differentiated promises to their customers. #DABEI is more than just a campaign in Germany: It's a longer-term communicative guideline designed to manifest participation as a central goal of Deutsche Telekom. And which will make our brand even more relevant to customers. Because to experience how "life is for sharing," you have to first take part.

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It's hard to think of something more effective than communicating the multi-faceted aspects of participation firsthand via direct customer contact. That's why Deutsche Telekom wants to drive forward a range of initiatives at a local level that go above and beyond its network build-out and diverse investments in technologies and social engagement. Take the Code and Design Camp, for example – a special vacation/weekend program where young participants learn all sorts about coding, hacking, blockchain technology, robotics, app development, online security, VR and AR, and eSports. Another example is the Senior Gamer Club, launched by Deutsche Telekom in Hungary. The club aims to bridge the digital divide between the generations. Young people help older participants with various aspects of going online. Deutsche Telekom is doing its bit to help everyone be part of "Generation #DABEI." 

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