When I arrived at Deutsche Telekom (DT) two years ago, I was tasked with redefining our innovation strategy. It was a challenging moment, as the board had just received recommendations from a management consultant.
Focusing on innovation means focusing on the future. So we embarked on a future-mapping and scenario-analysis exercise to develop our go-forward strategy. Future mapping is a process where we define different future scenarios for our business, assess probabilities and outcomes, and then map signals. It gives our business leaders options to rehearse potential strategies to avoid extinction.
Much of what we saw in those early days was troubling. The world could look similar to today but with everything coming in via over-the-top services. As a result, communications providers will be competing against others that offer these communications and information services for free. Google and Facebook, for example, are providing services formerly exclusive to telecommunications operators. At a certain point, DT will have a hard time expanding, with industry growth rates slowing to about 1% to 2% per year. Being a telecom operator is not going to be enough.