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Digitale Transformation

CEOs @ CeBIT #5: Markus Haas, Telefónica Deutschland

Just a few months ago, Markus Haas was appointed Chairperson of the Board of Telefónica Germany. One of his aims is to transform the company into Germany’s leading digital "OnLife Telco". In this interview he explains what that means and what CeBIT has to do with it.

08 Mar. 2017
CEO Telefonica Markus Haas
Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland

Mr. Haas, the smartphone is one of the strongest drivers of digitalization, but without a strong network, even the best mobile devices won’t be worth much. What is the biggest challenge Telefónica is going to have to tackle in the coming years of digital transformation?

Our goal is clear: We want to offer the best possible customer experience. This naturally goes hand in hand with outstand-ing connectivity. That is why we will be investing approximately one billion euros again this year to provide our business and private customers with a first-class network experience. But for us, this also means offering products and services which our customers can use to design their digital lives to meet their own specific needs. To do so, we have to continue to transform our company and completely digitalize our processes.

Furthermore, due to the current data explosion on the market, there are entirely new business opportunities opening up to us. We want to make our customers’ increasing business data volumes more and more anonymous, aggregating them and processing them securely and reliably for analysis purposes. We are convinced this will create added value for society and for our customers and that it will open up new business opportunities. At the same time, we are acutely aware of our responsibility in the relationship between large data volumes and data protection and in the relationship of trust between our customers and ourselves.

The motto at CeBIT 2017 is "d!conomy – no limits". What does "no limits" mean to you personally?

Due to the continuous advances made in the field of network technology, I see endless possibilities for using digital tools to make our lives easier. As far as the Internet of Things is concerned, we will see enormous growth in the way devices are connected using narrowband IoT – for power and water meters, for example. But the Internet of Things will also open up completely new opportunities for consumers in such elementary fields as mobility and healthcare. All of us as a whole can only benefit from this. The sole of a shoe that’s connected to the Web, a data-collecting shirt or a dog collar that records your pet’s habits are no longer merely pie in the sky.

If technology is destined to open the door to new opportunities – what does that mean for a company’s ethical and legal responsibilities?

In all our activities, we stand for the principle that people maintain sovereignty over their data. As far as we are concerned, that is the top priority. Speaking bluntly, this means we provide our customers with control over their data and work to increase transparency. As for data analysis: We have developed our own patented, three-stage process of anonymization. This has been coordinated with the German data security commissioner and checked by external experts. Exchanging information with the responsible authorities is also very important. The same thing goes for the social debate on these topics, in which we are deeply and openly involved – for example at our Telefónica BASEcamp in Berlin. We regularly invite representatives from all different types of social groups to come and talk with us there.

"We stand for the principle of people maintaining sovereignty over their data."

What digital trend currently fascinates you the most, aside from the core topics in your industry?

Basically, I am fascinated by the opportunities that artificial intelligence opens up in cooperation with the customer. The Telefónica Group recently presented the fourth platform, a tool designed for cognitive intelligence, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This tool makes it possible for customers to obtain information about the products and services used, to keep an eye on their data usage, to make service inquiries and manage device access. And all of this is done in a very natural way and in a system that thinks along with you. That helps us to understand our customers even better so that we can offer them a better service experience in real time in the future.

What will you be showing at your booth in Hall 12 this year?

At our booth, we want to show how we, as OnLife Telco, can support our customers in shaping their digital lives based on their own personal needs and desires. To us, OnLife means we accompany our business and private customers in their digital lives as much or as little as they require. In addition to customized offerings for business customers and new machine-to-machine applications like smart metering and tracking devices, we will also be showcasing the offers from our subsidiary, Telefónica NEXT. As far as the Internet of Things for end customers is concerned, we will have, for example, a prototype for health-oriented clothing. And as regards Advanced Data Analytics, we will have the latest study results from a pilot project in Stuttgart proving how an analysis of mobile data can make it possible to better control road traffic to avoid traffic jams and air pollution. Startups from our Accelerator Wayra and information on our network will also be on display, along with a program of informative talks on our own show stage at the booth, with a special focus on the Internet of Things.

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