Major telecommunications enterprises such as Telefónica Deutschland inherently work with huge volumes of data as their daily bread. Yet for a telecoms giant, fully harnessing such data is not necessarily a core competency. To wrest more value out of this underutilized trove, startup subsidiary "Telefónica NEXT" is developing products for the networked data worlds of tomorrow.
Every mobile phone user inevitably leaves behind traces. It happens any time a mobile phone connects to the network, or moves between cell towers, or calls up data, or makes a call. As part of its standard operations, Telefónica Deutschland gathers mobile service data for over 44 million customers. That usage data is subject to strict privacy protections, meaning that the police can only access it with a proper warrant, even for example when trying to locate a suspect.
An anonymized form of the data, however, could be extremely valuable as a whole to other companies, and even society itself. Traffic engineers would benefit greatly from analysis of movement flows. To make this possible, Telefónica Deutschland subjects the data to a special proprietary anonymization process that removes all personally identifiable elements. The process has been overseen by the German Officer for Privacy Protection and Information Freedom and certified by TÜV.
Telefónica NEXT sees itself as a partner to business, offering other companies solutions for taking better advantage of the growth opportunities available through digitization. Its position and approach as a startup within the corporate group was highly intentional, and fits its mission of pursuing new business ideas with greater independence. It also allows it to take advantage of the digital ecosystem that has arisen in Berlin. Beyond this, entrepreneurial independence promotes agile behavior, including quicker R&D and market testing for new products.
The Fraunhofer Institute IAO of Stuttgart recently issued a study attesting to the tremendous potential inherent to Telefónica NEXT's anonymization of cellular service data . Its success is tied to access to that usage data from its parent company.
When intelligently linked, the data can provide important insights of value for companies from a wide range of industries, as well as communities, public transit companies and society at large. As an example, Telefónica NEXT is working with partners in Nuremberg on a method for analyzing air quality in cities. The data collected in this way will then be used to establish proper countermeasures for high emissions. Retailers can also benefit from smart data analysis, as it allows them to tailor their offerings more closely to customer needs.
Telefónica NEXT is also working on solutions for the Internet of Things. A software platform called geeny.io is intended to help companies create smart products for consumers. At the same time, Geeny is being positioned as a central platform for consumers to manage their IoT devices and the data they generate.
This year marked Teléfonica NEXT's first CeBIT appearance, which it used to present projects such as the "10eleven9" smart shirt from Colorfy Design. When activated using Geeny, it can intelligently monitor various bodily functions.