An interview with Reinhard Clemens, Board Member Business Customers Deutsche Telekom AG and CEO of T-Systems.
Mr. Clemens, you have enjoyed a successful career with IBM and EDS. What made you decide to take over at the helm of T-Systems, thus joining the Board of Deutsche Telekom? I didn't need long to make my decision last summer when I was asked to take up the post. My decision wasn't necessarily influenced by the prospect of joining Deutsche Telekom. It was actually T-Systems itself that attracted me. I got to know the business very well during my time at IBM as a very effective competitor to whom several contracts were lost in the fight for customers. Now, following initial discussions with customers and staff alike, I am convinced that T-Systems is still a very strong and successful business. The main factor is: In strategic terms, T-Systems is Deutsche Telekom's business customer organization and the whole board stands behind T-Systems. In concrete terms, that means: We have gained a new impetus and intend to make something of it. What have been your impressions in the first 100 days? According to what I am hearing from our customers, we are doing a good job. Of course, not everything is perfect. However the basic message from my first customer meetings was that we have very good people and a very high level of expertise. We work through topics carefully and cleanly. And, as internal discussions have demonstrated, we have an excellent staff who are willing to change and who want to succeed: In turn, this is a huge factor in motivating me to progress the business. How do you aim to position T-Systems? There is a clear decision: T-Systems is a strategic part of Telekom and the business customer sector can, indeed must, grow. I have made this my personal mission. I am convinced that IT and TC will continue to converge. IP networks, in other words networks based on the Internet Protocol, will speed up this trend. Computer center services on-demand and topics such as dynamic services are becoming increasingly important. That's why we are positioning ourselves as a net-centric ICT service provider. How do you intend to grow? We are already the market leader in Germany, which is why we particularly need to grow on the international front. In other words we want to develop as an European ICT provider. One of the things I have learned in many discussions with customers is that the European market wants a European service provider. I have spent years working for American companies and am aware that they do not necessarily focus on Europe as a whole. For businesses in Germany and Europe this means that they really know the value of working with a European ICT provider like us on the basis of a shared European culture. Where do you intend making the first changes? I believe that we need to simplify our business fundamentally. Fundamental simplification means doing the right things, proceeding in a very focused way and pushing quality. We also need to become more transparent to our customers. In addition, we need to keep an eye on profitability. With a turnover of 12 billion Euro, we are a key player in the ICT market with 60 multinational groups as customers and providing comprehensive support for medium-sized businesses throughout Germany. But we need to grow even more! What is the role played by the technological changes in terms of the Internet Protocol and other innovations? We are right at the cutting edge when it comes to IP. We are promoting this theme because it offers our customers huge advantages. This is because IP is closely associated with the trend toward greater mobility. More and more employees of businesses find that they spend more time away from the office visiting customers than at their own desks. However, this means that there should be no hiatus in communication and data traffic and that it should be possible to use business applications even when on the move. Logically, the best way to achieve this is with a uniform network. One new trend is that IP is in demand not just among our large account customers, but also, increasingly, among medium-sized businesses. It will also play a greater role for end users, whether in the short or long term. That is why we are building up our IP expertise to such an extent. IP allows IT and TC to converge and, unlike other providers, we already have the necessary IT and TC expertise under one roof. The innovative power that we are developing in association with Deutsche Telekom as a whole is clearly evident in the numerous projects we are implementing in T-City Friedrichshafen, for example. Very forward-looking solutions are being produced on the basis of comprehensive broadband networking, for example for the health sector, our education system or efficient administration. What's in it for the customers? For me customer orientation is key. In the end, every innovation, indeed our entire structure, must benefit the customer. Of course, medium-sized businesses have different needs from large account customers. A mix of local support and a global range as and when required is necessary here. What we need there is very individual solutions ? with guaranteed international delivery capabilities. This is why we are positioning ourselves in this way ? at the end of the day I want customers I can quote as "references". However, the best marketing is when customers say that T-Systems is doing a great job. I want customers who are loyal to us, who extend contracts because they can see that we can offer them genuine benefits. We intend to work on this and are happy to be measured in this way. I am confident that we at T-Systems have the necessary abilities.