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Deutsche Telekom

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Ahead in the clouds

More by Deutsche Telekom - Back to the January 2013 issue

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Cloud computing is part of Deutsche Telekom’s continuing drive to limit energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In fact, the company is promoting the use of cloud computing and believes the information and telecommunications industry can, through investment in cloud computing, make a big contribution to protecting the environment.

According to a study by Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia, a general switch to cloud computing could actually increase emissions. By contrast, Deutsche Telekom disputes this, claiming that cloud computing could also both save computer capacity and offer data security.

“Cloud-based email, customer relationship management (CRM) software and groupware are only the tip of the iceberg,” said the company’s group climate change and sustainability officer Luis Neves, who is also chairman of GeSI – the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, which works for integrated social and environmental sustainability. “In 2008, GeSI published the SMART2020 study that found that large-scale, systems-enabled broadband and information technologies could deliver a 15% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions and save up to e600bn by 2020.”

Specific portals, too – such as Gamesload, Softwareload, Musicload and Videoload – are stored in the cloud and can be accessed just as easily as if they were added to a personal computer. Deutsche Telekom claims this use of the cloud has enormous environmental benefits. Through the implementation of a comprehensive climate change strategy, the company is driving efficiencies which include moving services to the cloud and making networks more efficient.

Neves estimates the company’s emissions are 40% lower in 2020 than they were in 1995. “With the trend of increasing energy costs, the savings could be even bigger,” he said. “The company has shown a strong commitment to demonstrating the enabling potential of cloud computing in tackling climate change and boosting economies.”

The development of Deutsche Telekom’s strategy takes place through the involvement of all important company players and only after careful consultation, said Neves. The company’s Climate Change Group, which plays a fundamental role in identifying and implementing agreed measures, debates and delivers recommendations on policies involving technical matters, staff issues and expansion, all with climate change remedies in mind. The ultimate focus of Deutsche Telekom’s strategy is its customers, who are also among its beneficiaries.  

The transfer of millions of users to cloud computing will require political support and investment, but Deutsche Telekom is already concentrating on its next vision, that the switchover will revolutionise the very way people live. This is, firstly, aimed at enabling people to work more efficiently, with remote working potentially altering the daily pattern of most people’s lives. “There will be no need for people to travel as much to work,” predicts Neves.  

In order to demonstrate its commitment to sustainable development, the company has been promoting a range of communication tools – an ‘app’ known as We Care being one of the most recent. Via articles, interviews, interactive graphics and even three-dimensional animation, this app shows in an entertaining way how data centres can become more energy-efficient, how a smart grid or smart meter would work and how anybody can economise on their electricity and, therefore, reduce energy bills and emissions.

The presenters, Katrin Bauerfeind and Christian Mürau, give their own perspective as they look at many aspects of good environmental conduct. We Care is available free for all iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.

The company also engages in social projects that provide practical support to communities while, again, helping to cut costs, energy consumption and emissions. For example, computers in all schools in Germany are equipped with broadband provided by Deutsche Telekom and falls in line with the company’s policy of giving as many people access to knowledge and information as possible. The commitment sometimes means Deutsche Telekom partners with other organisations to help them with their activities.

There are specific services for people with visual impairments and other disabilities, who can contact the company’s call centres for information and assistance. Deutsche Telekom is also involved with a similar service for migrant workers trying to adapt to living in a foreign land.

The elderly, too, are given a helping hand. The company has invested heavily in broadband deployment across the country, and this means elderly people can be linked remotely with resources and services, such as e-health solutions, that can help them maintain their quality of life. At the other end of the age spectrum, Deutsche Telekom has since 1991 partnered with a youth counselling helpline to provide technical expertise and funding.

In parallel with these services, staff time is given to charities and other bodies. Through its programme engagement@telekom, many employees are trained and equipped to support schools, kinder gardens, charities and other organisations. Some Deutsche Telekom staff man the counselling helpline’s emergency phones, while some offer themselves as volunteers at the German Bone Marrow Donor Centre. Others group themselves into teams to work at social institutions.

Environmental responsibility also occupies Deutsche Telekom. The company is one of Germany’s largest and, as such, runs a fleet of 32,000 vehicles, the second largest in the country. Deutsche Telekom conducted a stringent analysis of its huge fleet from the ‘climate change perspective’, leading to Board approval for the company’s so-called ‘green car policy’, under which the fleet is being switched to low-emissions vehicles, with an emissions limit introduced for every user.

Employees have a good reason to restrain their motoring: those who exceed the imposed limit must pay a penalty. Those who drive more efficiently and use cars with lower emissions receive a cash bonus. With the amount of money coming from the ‘malus’ system, Deutsche Telekom contributes to a fund used to finance research projects to further improve its environmental performance.

The company estimates that its climate-friendly products and ongoing environmentally-orientated strategy will, with the co-operation of customers, continue to cut millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

Interested in the We Care application? The company invites visits to, where more information is available. 

more about Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom AG is a German telecommunications company headquartered in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and which has operations in Europe, North America, Latin America, South Africa and India. It was formed in 1996 from the privatisation of the state-owned monopoly Deutsche Bundespost. The German government still holds a direct 15% stake in the company and another 17% through the state-owned bank KfW. It operates in two parts:

  • Telekom Deutschland GmbH, which was born out of the merger of T-Mobile and T-Home and provides consumer landline and mobile phone, broadband internet and IPTV services.
  • T-Systems, which serves public- and business-sector customers.

IBE comment

There is little doubt that Deutsche Telecom takes seriously its responsibilities to the communities in which it works. These are not restricted to telephone services and also includes help to those less able, be they older people, young, infirm or migrants.

Two projects in particular could, and indeed are, making an impact. The first is what is fast becoming known as ‘cloud computing’, which uses markedly less energy than conventional computing. Whether, as is claimed, it will supersede ‘the need for people to come to work’ is a matter of conjecture – not all employees use computers. The second is the incentives used for staff to drive their 32,000 vehicles in a careful and economic manner.

Points to note:

  • The ‘We Care’ project to reduce electricity consumption.
  • Staff volunteering schemes.
  • The green car policy.

Simon Webley, Institute of Business Ethics

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