Engaged Employees Help Deutsche Telekom Improve the Customer Experience

Staff with the right tools, using a workplace they find comfortable, can drive their organization forward.

As a high-profile global telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom faces competitive pressure in every market where it operates, and for each service it provides its customers. Bringing digital services to customers that span global enterprises to individual consumers therefore requires the organisation’s workforce to be both fully engaged, and using digital technologies to best effect.

The question then is how to build a workplace that delivers the most productive experiences for all its employees? Deutsche Telekom, in partnership with its regional companies around the world, is answering this question by embracing digital transformation. Its aim: to provide a flexible, user-friendly environment that allows anywhere, anytime and any-device interactions for its digitally-engaged workforce as they service the company’s huge customer base across the globe.

Tim Flachsbarth, Deutsche Telekom’s Manager Workplace Services ICTS, says that his role in the company—as his title suggests—is to identify services that could enhance the digital workplace. As he puts it, “a major challenge is to understand where we need additional functionality. A big focus is enterprise mobility management, for example, so it’s what should the mobile IT workplace look like? Other essential things include communication and collaboration—we need to understand how our employees collaborate, what tools they use, and what new elements could we bring to them?”

Our company has overall transformation programmes that drive the digitalization of work that cannot only be focused on IT but covers how people work, what they do, how they do it, where they do it.

— Tim Flachsbarth, Manager Workplace Services ICTS, Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom has staff working in a wide variety of locations—in the office, on the road, and in customer locations—so the digital workplace must also be adaptive in this respect. “Our company has overall transformation programmes that drive the digitalization of work that cannot only be focused on IT but covers how people work, what they do, how they do it, where they do it,” explains Flachsbarth. “Inside this, we also have a sub-programme called ‘digital at work’, designed to provide more IT flexibility to the user. Whatever conditions that employees work in, we must make sure they have IT equipment that best suits the job and the surroundings.”

An important factor in the overall project is the very nature of the telecommunications industry, which is undergoing rapid change. It means that planning for the future is also a key consideration, because the digital workplace must be able to cope with changing conditions. For example, it has to be able to handle not just new locations but perhaps even new work models as they evolve. “Digitalisation is about a journey for the user, to a different workplace environment that will be there in the future,” says Flachsbarth.

He recognises that it is crucial for staff to accept the digital workplace, because it is where they spend so much of their working lives. “We have to make it possible for employees to understand where they are now, what possibilities will come up, and help them to manage the complexity of different devices and the addition of new apps and services,” he says. “Ultimately, end-user satisfaction and recommendation rates are core to all workplace IT projects and are important success metrics.”

Ensuring the usability is therefore essential, as Flachsbarth makes very clear. “We involve the staff, our internal customers, at all stages of the project, including the selection process. This helps improve the fast adoption and usage of innovative solutions. Apart from that, end users like to see that their insights affect decision-making, so their voice forms the basis for every architecture and project undertaken by IT.” He adds that “the usability of any solution by every possible user is a vital consideration, as the business demands software that is available to everyone and does not exclude those with disabilities.”

This was a big change—working early together with business on its requirements, and looking at the success factors from the business perspective, not only from an IT perspective.

— Tim Flachsbarth, Manager Workplace Services ICTS, Deutsche Telekom

While staff buy-in is important, it is not enough unless the digital workplace also aligns with the core strategy of the business in rapidly changing times. To achieve this, Flachsbarth ensures that his team strives for closer alignment and cross-team collaboration with their business managers so that key business success factors are also taken on board early. “This was a big change—working early together with business on its requirements, and looking at the success factors from the business perspective, not only from an IT perspective,” he says.

Alongside the creation of the new digital workplace, Deutsche Telekom has recognised that the pressure to be able to build new solutions quickly and get them into use rapidly needed a major transformation in how the company worked. One major change Flachsbarth pointed out was a recognition that “we are more and more developing from a company that does everything on its own, to a company that, where possible, integrates partner solutions. It’s no longer necessarily the case that the internal IT department creates the whole service, but more and more it is the case that we integrate existing services into the solution.”

He adds that cloud services is one area where this is especially visible and challenging: “If we are to use cloud services to quickly get new capabilities to our staff, we have to understand what implications their use may have on the architecture of our internal infrastructure. Then we need to make it possible that these cloud services form part of an integrated service so that our employees can easily work with them within our network infrastructure and digital workplace.”

Given that every system and all the data Deutsche Telekom has must be accessible to staff via their digital workplace, security is always a major concern. And because data is now accessed so often and by so many systems, the company is evolving from its traditional model of looking at data and its usage in isolation. A high (but balanced) investment in security is overcoming the challenges of delivering good security practices that are not awkward and time-consuming for employees to follow, or for the IT team to implement and enforce.

Moving away from security that just protects data to a model that accommodates the user experience helps the company ensure that those good practices are actually followed. This ultimately results in a more secure environment. Combined with end-to-end monitoring of application usage, it also allows for more proactive support. IT teams can respond as problems emerge, rather than waiting for them to reach critical mass, while security analytics can detect behavior patterns that may indicate improper use of applications and systems.

Deutsche Telekom is building a flexible, integrated infrastructure that, combined with the support of cloud services and platforms, enables IT teams to deliver more services, faster and with better usability. In conjunction, active collaboration allows them both to proactively identify new business processes, and to seek out existing processes that need better support.

The focus on usability, flexibility and a broad training program is also delivering improved employee satisfaction, with “user satisfaction” now starting to be measured. Employee engagement is a valuable additional benefit, and it comes from enabling the workforce to develop and attain the right skills, as well as providing them with the right tools to do their job productively. The goal is to allow users to be more productive in their interactions with customers—face to face, in the shop, in the customers office or home, or even working in the street.

But Flachsbarth finishes with a final thought: “Balancing the speed and volume of your output is crucial to avoid overloading your resources. Applying the right throttle to the implementation of new features will give the necessary headroom for teams to work together effectively and quickly. Not doing so leads to quality failures.”
 

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February 27, 2018

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