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Deutsche Telekom's Nicolas Mahler: Fastest and Smartest Will Win the AI Race

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Deutsche Telekom is one of the world's leading integrated telecommunications companies, with some 156 million mobile customers, 29 million fixed-network lines, and more than 18 million broadband lines.
They provide fixed-network/broadband, mobile communications, Internet, and IPTV products and services for consumers, and information and communication technology solutions for business and corporate customers.
Nicolas Mahler is a member of the Executive Board at Deutsche Telekom, and is also the SVP of Operations Support. He will be speaking at The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 September, delivering his expert keynote on ‘How to play and win the AI game: an incumbent Telco perspective’.
Ahead of the event, AI Business were keen to speak to Nicolas to hear this thoughts on how AI is set to impact business on the whole, as well as find out about Deutsche Telekom’s strategy for AI implementation.

Nicolas predicts that we will see “tremendous changes in our private and business lives” as AI evolves and becomes more widespread. “Specifically in business”, he says, “I would guess that the following will happen”:

“We will create new services and products that customers will love and won’t be willing to live without; we will have faster, more intelligent, better ways of working. Jobs will dramatically change. A lot of today‘s jobs and routines will be taken over by robots. And we will be able to do new, thrilling things in business beyond imagination. Overall, the future is bright”.

But there are challenges ahead as AI is adopted in the enterprise. Nicolas sees management of AI as one of the biggest:

“It is crucial that we find smart ways to combine the new power of AI technologies with the ‘old power’ of humans to create something that is even more valuable. I think that solely praising AI as the key solution to everything and completely forgetting about humans will lead to a slower adoption of the technology. It’s up to us to design this cooperation in a meaningful way”.

Another obstacle he pinpoints is finding more major enterprise use cases: 

“We have to have more real case examples of businesses that have felt a large impact of AI. Today’s discussions of ‘hey, I have a chat bot, I’m big in AI’ are not enough”.

So where and how are AI technologies currently featuring at Deutsche Telekom? Looking inward to his own company, Nicolas says they are implementing AI across a number of departments:

“Right now, we are using AI technologies in all kinds of areas at Deutsche Telekom, such as Innovation, Marketing, Customer Service, Internal Shared Services, Field Service, traditional IT and so on. We are thinking of how we can implement it into products and propositions while also using them for interactions with our customers or managing customer service operations more effectively. This ranges from intelligent digital document tagging and processing to the concept of a full-blown digital assistant and back office robot agent. Within customer service, we try to follow our mission statement: ‘Listen and learn from our customers – and then act for them in a more intelligent way!’”

We have to have more real case examples of businesses that have felt a large impact of AI. Today’s discussions of ‘hey, I have a chat bot, I’m big in AI’ are not enough

“The AI market – which is a widespread variety of digitisation, algorithms and automisation products and offerings – also has so many opportunities for tools that could help DT become more effective in sales, service, IT, marketing, networks, etc. This will result in higher customer satisfaction, faster time to market and greater agility than today”.

Going forward, Nicolas adds that the telecoms industry will be driven by the need to become even more customer-friendly and focused on consumer needs. But there is more than this, Nicolas says, as he nods towards his keynote at The AI Summit:

“In parallel there will be ongoing consolidation and fierce competition from all players around the industry on who has the best customer proposition. AI capabilities will be one of the cornerstones to be able to win this game. The degree of digitisation in the industry and within the companies will increase, opening up the possibilities for AI to a new wide range of playing fields. In parallel to winning the customer game, AI has so much potential to improve sales, service, processing operations in agile, fast and cost effective ways that even drives customer satisfaction to new stellar levels. Thus, I think that telcos have to adopt AI and those who are fast and smart will be the winners”.

At The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 September, Nicolas will deliver his keynote on ‘How to play and win the AI game: an incumbent Telco perspective’.

At the event, CxOs from the world's leading enterprises will gather with the most exciting AI developers to explore the huge opportunity that AI presents the telecommunications industry, and many more industries besides.

To find out more, and to register to attend the event, visit:

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