Deutsche Telekom: Work 4.0 put in practice

Deutsche Telekom acquires GTS for $729 million to strengthen enterprise focus
“Panta rhei” – everything around digitization is in flux: structures, content as well as organization of work. People all over the world collaborate virtually, are active in various communities of experts and use the latest technologies for exchange and their daily work: This is for me the essence of future work – as confirmed by the study Work 4.0, carried-out in cooperation with the University of St. Gallen.

Companies are well advised to foster their employees in this way of operating and to familiarize themselves with virtual environments – also because, due to the stormy character of digitization, we increasingly face so-called “wicked problems”. This refers particularly to complex and multi-layered tasks that one decision-maker, one expert or one team of experts alone cannot cope with. They require cooperation and collective knowledge – in short: crowd intelligence.

Hands-on training with the Magenta MOOC

At Deutsche Telekom, in cooperation with partners from academia, we have pioneered and developed a format that effectively combines new ways of working and learning: the Magenta MOOC.

MOOC stands for “massive open online course” – large-scale online courses that allow many participants and an anytime-anywhere participation. A format ideal for Telekom, since as a Group we face the challenge of reaching more than 225,000 people in 50 countries, providing them with strategic guidance, performance-critical knowledge and common basic values as well as the “big picture”.

After the first Magenta MOOC two years ago received extraordinary feedback, we prepared another edition for this year and invited all employees Group-wide to participate in a second Magenta MOOC. Under the motto “Go digital”, this time the MOOC was devoted to an issue that affects the Group in its entirety.

More than 3,500 people from 32 countries registered for the course and learned how digital trends and technologies, in conjunction with changing customer demands, revolutionize entire industries and affect the telco business. Internal and external experts – including Telekom Board members – enlightened employees on digitization from different angles in video presentations. Overall, the video presentations were accessed 50,000 times. Related material was readily available on the MOOC platform.

Leading through digital and social networking

We combined this knowledge with virtual collaboration to tackle real “business challenges”. 1,000 participants were divided into 200 teams of five. Their mission was to work on a solution for one of the ten business challenges of different business areas of the Group, which were provided by respective business leaders. The challenges included “Connected Car”, “Internet of Things”, “iBeacons” and “Leaders as role model” – all relevant digitization issues for Deutsche Telekom. 20 teams worked on each particular “Business Challenge” simultaneously. This way, within the major MOOC community, smaller special interest communities were also created. Those participants submitting all assignments were additionally credited with a university certificate from the ESCP Europe Business School.

When it comes to teamwork, participants applied innovation methods such as “Design Thinking” and were accompanied by mentors and tutors, as well as the great community of colleagues who had registered as a “supporter” to Magenta MOOC. Via this cooperation, a wide variety of solutions and prototypes came to life. An example is the design of an ´E2E Airport Security Awareness Solution´ – a platform that helps airport operators as well as passengers to notice security alerts at the earliest possible stage and react without any delay.

Think out-of-the-box, learn with and from each other and devise new ideas. Where could that be better done than in a heterogeneous team with intensive discussion and interaction on-going? The feedback we received, confirmed that employees wish for such a digital and social learning experience. The results are encouraging: learning within a community and on real, professional tasks is highly effective, especially when it comes to digital innovation and transformation.

Blueprint for a new way of working

Magenta MOOC has shown how we can use the “crowd” effectively: Participants delivered ideas for new products and services to business managers. We have strengthened cooperation across functional areas and countries – a win-win situation for everyone involved and a blueprint towards new ways of working at Deutsche Telekom in times of digitization. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “To what I have seen, heard, learned, I give priority.” We have created a format that combines learning and experience.

Reza Moussavian, senior vice president HR Digital and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom