|Advancing the digital lifestyle
|COO and Member of the Board of Management
|Deutsche Telekom AG
Hamid Akhavan is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a Member of the Board of Management at Deutsche Telekom AG. Mr Akhavan is responsible for the operation of the mobile markets in Europe, and the areas of Products and Innovation, Technology, IT and Procurement. He has also served as the Chief Executive Officer of T-Mobile International AG, the Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTO) on T-Mobile International’s Board of Management and CTO of the Deutsche Telekom Group. He served previously as Chief Technical Officer and Chief Information Officer at Teligent Inc., and held a variety of positions at other technology companies. Hamid Akhavan graduated from the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received a Master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the same fields.
The digitalization, mobilization of access and personalization of content is revolutionising the way we deal with information and how we connect and interact with each other. The mobile Internet and advances in device sophistication and service offerings have spawned hitherto unimaginable applications. Consumers want not only greater connectivity, but also enhanced security and simplicity. This new communication world brings high rewards for business and society, but also high demands for investment and technology innovation, but most of all, for bandwidth.
In this first decade of the 21st century, we are experiencing the biggest revolution the telecommunications industry has seen since the invention of the telephone. The driving forces are digitalization, the mobilization of access and the personalization of content. The way we access, handle and exchange information, and the way we connect and interact with each other – all of this is currently undergoing dramatic change at a breathtaking pace, opening up a wealth of new possibilities unheard of only a few years ago. These developments affect not only our industry, but society as a whole. Our lives and works are becoming increasingly networked through constant access to data and content via an increasingly mobile Internet, high-capacity broadband everywhere, Internet-based services and social networks. Today, we have access to an unprecedented level of information – books, music, games, video, but also instant messaging, voice calls or emails are available anytime, everywhere. At our disposal is a wealth of Internet-based services that can be used and easily shared with others on a growing number of different devices: via TV, game consoles, the PC, iPods and increasingly also on the move via state-of-the-art smartphones. At the heart of this revolution is the rise of the mobile Internet, driven by the increased user mobility and the user’s desire to always be connected. The ubiquitous nature of wireless networks and the advances in device sophistication and service offerings have spawned many fascinating applications that were unimagined hitherto. The trend in consumer interest and behaviour with regard to IT-based communication has increasingly shifted towards individualism and personalization over the past years. According to Comscore, more than 734 million people, or 65 per cent of Internet users, are active in social networks. Blogs, video podcasts, chatrooms or, for example, the global encyclopaedia Wikipedia, are booming. If the Internet’s first coming was all about transferring old business onto a new medium, it is now all about empowering individuals. This process is fuelled by an outpouring of creativity, productivity and innovation from the people that were once known only as users. Today’s Internet user is consumer, producer and publisher all in one. Our industry is taking account of the changing habits of consumers, and adapting business models, products and services accordingly. Our job is to realize a modern and easy way for everybody to participate in today’s digital lifestyle and benefit from its vast possibilities. Today’s sophisticated technologies and devices are not an end in themselves. They mirror the needs and wants of the users. This is why, for our industry, it is paramount to do two things: first, to listen closely to the customers, and second, to invest in innovation. Customers in their role as users are becoming increasingly important actors in innovation projects: The market success of new products and services depend largely on the extent to which actual customer wishes and needs are targeted. Listening to the customers means not only paying attention to the ‘prosumers’ – those users who take full advantage of the possibilities that digital technologies provide – but to every digitally connected consumer. Whether active contributor to this new global nervous system or just a user of basic telecommunication services, each customer has his or her communities – family, friends, colleagues – with whom they wish to stay in touch. They want access to their personal contacts at any time, whether at home or on the move. Thus, the focus is on universal access to one’s own data and contacts via any terminal device or access network. In the future, intelligent management of all digital content will be enabled by saving all data centrally and securely in the network. Consumers want not only greater connectivity, but also enhanced security and simplicity. We increasingly have to make it easier for them to access and organize their personal digital assets. We have to ensure that digital content – whether photos, videos, music, personal contacts or communication services – can be conveniently accessed, managed and shared via every screen (PC, cell phone, TV) through uniform design of user interfaces, single sign-ons and simple, intuitive operation. The key in consumer products is a superior user experience. Intuitive usability, seamless integration of services and a unified user interface are quintessential to successful services. Last but not least, consumers want attractive design, high performance and energy efficiency. A recent study, conducted by the Munich University in Germany, highlights the paramount importance of enabling what we call ‘connected life and work’. For 85 per cent of German on-liners, dealing with digital media and communication services is already an important and natural part of their daily lives. Moreover, more than two thirds cannot even imagine their free time without being online! These are just two examples of the study that indicate the strong interest of consumers in the digital lifestyle. The opening vistas of this new communication world promise not only high rewards for business and society as a whole, but also high demands for investment and technology innovation. First of all, we need an infrastructure that can deal with the exploding demand for bandwidth. It is obvious: today’s broadband will be tomorrow’s narrowband. Bandwidth of 20 or 50 Mbit/s – or, in the long-term, Gigabit/ – is a must for applications like HDTV, video sharing or 3D animation. To cope with this need for bandwidth, our industry has to invest on a huge scale. We need a policy environment that allows for maximum connectivity, promotes innovation and supports investment; a regulatory framework that allows recouping these investments and which makes long-term business models plannable. Such a regulatory policy plays a crucial role in unleashing technology’s potential. The original goal of technology is progress in the service of people. So together, we must strive to advance technology and improve it for our customers and for future generations.