Man sees through VR-glasses; the background is dark and there are colourful neon speckles everywhere

Sales Kick-off with a Virtual Sense of Closeness

Live event at the virtual innovation center

June 25 2020Andreas Droste

New format with a social component

A live event "in virtual space"? Nothing new in times of corona. But a live event in a truly virtual space, with lifelike avatars, breakout sessions via zoom, and the possibility to teleport to a virtual island? That’s truly something new.

Not your average Monday morning: around 170 T-Systems salespeople, including 40 new colleagues, gathered for the kick-off event of our new sales organization. Not as originally planned in a trendy location, but virtually. An event like this can of course be held simply and soberly via a team video conference. Or it can be innovative and special: namely in our virtual innovation center.

Unique and personal atmosphere

Video conference in a virtual room with two people on a screen via webcam and two virtual moderators standing in the room

We have recently started conducting virtual workshops with our customers in this digital, three-dimensional walk-in replica of our real innovation center in Munich. This gave birth to the idea of using this environment to prepare our sales colleagues for the second half of the year in a special setting. In addition to the technical possibilities, the virtual innovation center also offers a social component that is missing from conventional collaboration tools. It started with Bernd Wagner's small team from SVP Sales Germany welcoming the participants with their "social avatars". The ability of our technology partner doob to scan people in real life and then allow their virtual double to interact in the innovation center in 3D creates a special atmosphere. All 170 colleagues were connected via the meeting tool Zoom.

High-profile speakers

We have linked several digital levels with each other here: via zoom, for example, the participants could follow the virtual coffee talk. Here, sales manager Wagner exchanged ideas with our customers. Robert Zores, CTO Rewe Digital, Roland Schütz, CIO Lufthansa Group, and Markus Wollny, COO Deutsche Familienversicherung, reported on the challenges facing their companies in recent months via video link.

Keynote speeches were given by T-Systems CEO Adel Al-Saleh and Harry Moseley, Global CIO of Zoom. Sales workshops for our sales staff took place in various breakout sessions – also via Zoom. Afterwards, I took the colleagues on a virtual tour of the center.

T-Systems innovation center

T-Systems currently operates four major innovation hubs: demo cases, exhibits, and plenty of space for working together are available in the innovation center in Munich with its attached data center. Around 200 customer workshops take place here every year. The T-Gallery in Bonn and the centers in Utrecht and Barcelona are also geared towards creative collaborations. We also provide flexible showrooms in Darmstadt, Berlin, Vienna, London, New York, and Paris, where we make small, individual formats possible, such as one-day pop-up showrooms.

Wine tasting on a virtual island

Video conference on a virtual beach, there is a screen with two people on it and two others standing at the beach

Of course, the social gathering at the end of these events should still take place. To do this, we simply beamed the avatars from the virtual innovation center to a beach club on a virtual island; everyone else could participate via zoom. A wine tasting with two sommeliers was waiting here for the kick-off participants, whom we had of course provided with a wine care package in advance via a delivery service. This event was a successful dress rehearsal of how our virtual innovation center can be used for collaboration with customers, partners, and employees: as a platform that unites various communication technologies, and simultaneously a space for social encounters.

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About the author

Andreas Droste

Senior Innovation Manager, T-Systems International GmbH

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