Learning digitalization from Silicon Valley startups and tech giants

What makes Silicon Valley so unique for the business world? The answer I believe lies in the fact that it is the epicenter of a profound change that will transform business and societies alike. Such change is only possible with the best talents, courageous investors and an openness for big ideas. Silicon Valley provides all these things, which is why we traveled there together with executives from our key business customers from the CEE region, namely Romania, Greece, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Croatia.

DT customers from Europe in front of Stanford University

Digitalization will undoubtedly change the way companies operate and interact with customers. Nowhere on earth is it easier to see so many different trends, technologies and talents in a relatively small space. Within 15 minutes of talking to CEOs of companies involved in Artificial Intelligence (AI) there, I learned how we as a telecom company can get started using AI to improve customer experience. But our time there was also a personal learning experience for each one of us. We could witness not only new technologies, but a different culture of learning, innovating and disrupting. On our tour, we brought together our tech partners – global IT players and strategic partners like Cisco and Microsoft as well as smaller start-ups – and our customers. It was an eye-opening journey, as our guests put it: “The tour was a good opportunity for me to widen my knowledge about artificial intelligence and the digital world, and to better understand why the San Francisco area is different from Cluj-Napoca, the so-called Silicon Valley of Transylvania,” says Bogdan Plesuvescu, General Counsel at Banca Transilvania, who was part of the delegation.

Presentation of Workplace by facebook in FB HQ

“It was a great experience to be at the heart of innovation and new technologies. It opened up my mind on innovation, and Deutsche Telekom as a partner in the area of digitization,” says Richard Labas, co-owner LabAs Ltd from Slovakia. As our business customers put it: “Deutsche Telekom has developed a substantial partner ecosystem in the area of digitization, resulting in a great series of meetings”, says Marco Cravario, Deputy CEO of UniCredit Romania. 

During our “Innovation Tour to Silicon Valley,” we met with 15 innovative tech companies. The solutions we saw ranged from collaboration and communication (Microsoft, WalkMe, Asana) to sales and marketing (Cloud4Wi), artificial intelligence (Agent.AI) as well as security (Cisco, Zimperium). Let me briefly introduce some of the companies we met. Companies that have the potential to impact digitization journeys and deliver tangible business benefits, like increasing productivity or enhancing customer experience:

Presentation by WalkMe CEO

WalkMe is a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) that offers software as a service. It aims to raise companies’ standards for training, impact the digital workplace, and deliver next-generation customer experiences. Put simply: WalkMe trains software instead of forcing users to get acquainted with new software. For example, with WalkMe, an employee can tell a chatbot: “I want to take 5 days off from March 12th to 16th.” The software takes care of all necessary steps in the background, and the employee just gets a notification that the vacation is approved.

Zimperium offers enterprise class continuous real-time threat protection for mobile devices and applications.It runs continuously without draining the battery or relying on an Internet connection.

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams improve communication, organization and collaboration. It focuses on allowing users to manage projects and tasks online without the use of email.

Agent.ai suggests the appropriate responses to customer questions, using learnings from customer and agent interactions, support ticket resolutions, company knowledge base, FAQs, and data from custom-selected in-app events.

Gigster (is a freelance platform that connects programmers with companies. Customers submit the product requirements, Gigster analyzes the request, and connects the company with software engineers.

Lecture at Singularity University on “Think Exponentially”

To help the delegation’ participants appreciate not only the scale, but the speed of change enabled by digitization, Marijana Mohsenin from Singularity University used the following paradigm: While it took airlines 68 years to reach 50 million customers, Facebook hit the 50 million user mark after only 3.5 years, and the popular game Pokemon Go took a mere 14 days to get there, she said. “The next 30 years will bring unprecedented change.Augmented and virtual reality, AI and robotics, biotechnology and bioinformatics, medicine and neurosciences, blockchain cryptocurrencies are among those trends which will have the biggest impact on human lives and businesses.”  

At Deutsche Telekom, we strive to help companies keep up with rapid change and new trends as they embark on their digitization journey. After the trip to Silicon Valley, some participants can’t wait to bring home some of the technologies they learned about: “I look forward to working more closely with Deutsche Telekom to implement possible pilots of some of the solutions presented in the Valley,” says Marco Cravario, Deputy CEO, UniCredit Romania.

Author: Ralf Nejedl Senior Vice President of B2B at Deutsche Telekom Europe
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