An inspiring forum for the exchange of innovative ideas at Teléfonica Germany

Telefónica Germany, like many companies in the telecommunications industry, recognizes the paramount importance of fostering innovation for numerous reasons.

An inspiring forum for the exchange of innovative ideas at Teléfonica Germany
  • Florian Estendorfer

    Florian Estendorfer

    Innovation at Telefónica Deutschland

  • Tram Luu

    asistente personal del Director Partner, Financial & Performance Management en Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co

Reading time: 7 min

Innovations  at Telefónica Germany

Innovation serves as a linchpin for sustaining competitiveness, meeting evolving customer needs, navigating technological shifts, exploring novel market opportunities, ensuring regulatory compliance, enhancing operational efficiency, and championing sustainability endeavors. By wholeheartedly embracing innovation, Telefónica Germany endeavors to fortify its position for enduring success in the ever-evolving telecommunications landscape.

In pursuit of this goal, Telefónica Germany has initiated various strategic projects and endeavors. These include robust investments in Research and Development, fostering innovation through incubators and accelerators such as WAYRA, driving digital transformation initiatives, cultivating a corporate culture conducive to innovation, promoting talent development, championing sustainability and social responsibility, and forging strategic partnerships and collaborations.

This comprehensive approach underscores Telefónica Germany’s commitment to innovation across multiple fronts. By investing in these diverse initiatives, Telefónica Germany aims to not only sustain its competitiveness but also to create tangible value for its customers and stakeholders.

Nevertheless, to provide a clearer understanding of the tangible impact of these initiatives, incorporating specific examples or case studies could further elucidate how Telefónica Germany translates innovation into actionable results, thereby showcasing the real-world benefits for its stakeholders.

Use Case: “Technology Innovation Day” and Its Origins

In the realm of technology, particularly in IT and networks, fostering innovation often involves collaboration with strategic partners. One such collaborative effort that I have been directly involved in for several years is the “Technology Innovation Day,” initiated within our department in partnership with our longstanding ally, Tech Mahindra. Our partnership with Tech Mahindra spans over 17 years, marked by a robust and cooperative relationship.

The inception of the Technology Innovation Day dates back to 2017, when we embarked on a journey to infuse fresh perspectives and cutting-edge technologies into our company through collaborative efforts with our partner. These innovation days were designed as platforms for technical exchanges, featuring guest speakers from Tech Mahindra who shared insights on the latest technologies and methodologies, including agile working practices.

Each session spanned from 4 to 8 hours, encompassing presentations, networking breaks, and interactive sessions such as group retrospectives utilizing methodologies like the fishbowl technique. The agenda was meticulously crafted to foster meaningful exchanges and knowledge sharing among participants.

The impact of these innovation days was evident as participants found the topics pertinent and engaging. The presence of external speakers and experts brought forth inspiring insights, novel ideas, and invaluable experiences from diverse industry backgrounds, enriching the collective learning experience for all, including Telefónica.

Technology Innovation Day – Elevating to the Next Level: Birth of a Community and Platform

Following the resounding success and positive feedback garnered from the initial Innovation Days, my colleague Tram Luu and I recognized the potential for expanding such insightful exchanges beyond our department’s confines. We envisaged a platform where discussions on cutting-edge technologies could transcend departmental boundaries, encompassing all facets of IT and departments dealing with technological matters, including Service Technology, Networks, Special Services, Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse, and others.

With this vision in mind, we embarked on the creation of a community that would foster continuous knowledge sharing and serve as a hub for regular exchanges across various business areas. The journey commenced with the inaugural Technology Innovation Day in June 2018, initially conducted predominantly onsite at our office. As demand grew and to ensure inclusivity for colleagues from diverse locations, we transitioned to a hybrid model. By 2020, we seamlessly shifted to a fully remote setup, leveraging platforms like MS Teams Live Event to facilitate participation.

Through deliberate efforts, we cultivated a collaborative community comprising enthusiastic colleagues, ensuring a diverse lineup of speakers sourced internally from Telefónica, as well as from esteemed business partners and external industry experts. Invitations were extended not only to technical units but also to stakeholders from different business units, facilitated through Telefónica’s internal intranet. Additionally, team members from strategic partners and providers were welcomed to contribute to the enriching dialogue.

Speakers hailed from various quarters, including Telefónica’s internal units and communities, the innovation incubator Wayra, as well as from strategic providers and partners such as hyper-scalers, platform providers, and service integrators.

Technology Innovation Day: the purpose

Purpose of the Technology Innovation Day is to

  • Enable a digital skill-up for the teampersonal and team development
  • Exchange of experience, best practice  – key competencies and technologies derive innovations
  • Support strategic transformation goals

Technology Innovation Day: facts & figures after more than six years

Over the span of six years, we have orchestrated 44 Technology Innovation Days, comprising a total of 98 sessions, which have been graced by representatives from 39 companies, featuring insights from 145 distinguished speakers.

Sessions were meticulously crafted, with the majority lasting a maximum of 30 minutes, a duration optimized to maximize participation. However, we also accommodated longer sessions, extending up to 80 minutes, to delve deeper into complex topics.

Attendance figures reflected a dynamic range, spanning from intimate gatherings of 20 individuals to bustling events boasting up to 400 participants. Typically, our sessions attracted an average of around 200 eager listeners, fostering an environment ripe for fruitful exchanges.

The breadth of topics covered during these sessions expanded over time, encapsulating key areas of interest across Telefónica Germany’s technological landscape. Here’s a glimpse into the diverse spectrum:

  • Telefónica Technology’s future-oriented presentations, showcasing groundbreaking projects, lighthouse initiatives, TMF catalysts, and notable inventions such as the Routing Hub patent.
  • Wayra’s start up companies and their innovations and Use Cases from Innovation Experience Area (e.g. AURA Avatar / MetaHuman)
  • Network-centric discussions encompassing cutting-edge topics like 5G, Autonomous Networks, Beyond 5G, Open RAN, Broadband FTTH, FixNet, and FMS.
  • Exploration of the latest trends in Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Digital Twins, Helium 5G/Web3, and Future TelCo
  • In-depth examinations of DevOps practices, Cloud and multi-cloud strategies, Development methodologies, Test Automation, Containerization, API management, Observability, and database technologies like MongoDB.
  • Spotlight on AI, Machine Learning, Hyperautomation, and Robotics, including memorable events like the 2019 Hackathon featuring a thrilling robot race.
  • Diverse array of less-technical topics catering to holistic professional development, including Agile Mindset, Agile World practices, Design Thinking methodologies, Intercultural sessions, Digital Methods, Innovation Management strategies, as well as sessions like Google’s ‘Search Inside Yourself’ and ‘#IamRemarkable’.

Technology Innovation Day: Realizing the Ultimate Benefits

Internal knowledge exchange, sharing best practices, and engaging with external partners and experts yield tangible advantages for a company. Here are the five most pertinent benefits:

  • Fostering Innovation: The exchange of knowledge internally and learning from external partners ignites innovation by exposing employees to fresh ideas, diverse perspectives, and innovative approaches. This cross-pollination of ideas often culminates in the development of pioneering solutions, products, and processes, thus bolstering competitive advantage.
  • Accelerating Learning: By sharing best practices and experiences internally, employees can glean insights from each other’s triumphs and setbacks. Moreover, tapping into the expertise of external partners and experts provides valuable insights and lessons learned from various industries, markets, and contexts, expediting the company’s learning curve.
  • Promoting Collaboration: Encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration nurtures a culture of teamwork and cooperation within the company. Empowering employees to share their expertise and learn from others fosters camaraderie and a collective sense of ownership toward organizational success.
  • Enhancing Efficiency and Driving Continuous Improvement: Regular knowledge exchange and learning opportunities enable the company to identify areas ripe for improvement and implement continuous improvement initiatives. By systematically reviewing best practices, benchmarking performance, and soliciting feedback, the company can drive ongoing optimization and innovation across all facets of its operations.
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent: A culture that prioritizes internal knowledge exchange and learning from external sources is inherently attractive to top talent. Employees are more likely to remain engaged and motivated when afforded opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and exposure to novel ideas and experiences.

In summary, internal knowledge exchange, sharing best practices, and learning from external partners and experts are pivotal components of a thriving and innovative organization. Leveraging the collective wisdom of its employees and external networks enables the company to achieve sustainable growth, maintain competitiveness, and foster long-term success.

For Telefónica Germany, this unique platform and community have played a significant role in enhancing team competency, fostering collaboration, and supporting Telefónica’s transformation journey.


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