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21. November 2017

Deutsche Telekom is going electric

Phoning, mailing, fuelling: a new product from the telephone company?

Deutsche Telekom is building charging stations for e-cars, because it has spotted a structural advantage. To find out how and why communications and driving will converge and what that means for digital strategies – read on!

12.000 charging stations in one fell swoop

The subject of e-mobility has been talked about for years. Now, although slower than expected, more cars using electricity are appearing in the streets. But, par for the course when it comes to technical paradigm shifts, the old Abbott and Costello routine is rearing its head: who’s on first? The power companies are reluctant to establish charging stations for e-cars because the cars still are few and far between. And the cars on the other hand are struggling to expand their number because of the low number of charging stations.

In future the supply of the latter could be vastly improved. Deutsche Telekom has realised that it is sitting on a great number of potential charging stations – the so-called service area interfaces (SAI). These big grey boxes are common in our cities, there are more than 380,000 in Germany. Each SAI has its own power supply and digital measuring device. Around 12,000 of these boxes are located where they could be used as charging stations – with just a few technical modifications and including the parking space needed.

Making the most of the potential

The current number of 8,000 charging stations for e-cars (as of end of 2017) could rise by 150 percent, in a short time and with little cost. The modifications would be the responsibility of Telekom; while creating parking spaces including the necessary traffic signs would be carried out by the municipalities, maybe subsidised by the federal government.

This is creating exciting possibilities for Telekom. The company could offer a brand-new product based on an already existing infrastructure. It also has the communication channels necessary for the transfer of data from the SAI to the datacentre responsible for billing the customers at its disposal. The only thing still missing is an all-around service package cleverly combining offers for telecommunications with charging e-cars. This could actually strengthen customer loyalty: whoever can re-charge his car with Telekom at a low price is more inclined to stay on as a customer for telephone and internet services.

Keeping track of current trends

Of course this example may not be applicable for other industry sectors. But it is enlightening in a number of ways, because there are some fundamental questions behind it.

  • Is there a potential new business hidden within an already existing structure?
  • Can I raise customer loyalty by adding a new product which will be, at some point in the future, in high demand?
  • How can I participate in a new product for which demand is still evolving – in this case the invoicing of charging current?

Thus it’s understandable why banks with a broader business perspective should keep track of current trends. If discount stores like Aldi are offering phone cards and supermarkets are making payments for internet services possible, the idea of buying charging current in a bank doesn’t seem so outlandish. And within the framework of digitisation it could be realised quite easily.

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