Deutsche Telekom and Orange: manifesto for a digital Europe

Today’s technology is founded on transparency and security, and this is the key to making Europe a stronger and bolder digital force. At Orange, we’re already implementing this approach in collaboration with Deutsche Telekom. Let’s find out how.

Stéphane Richard &Timotheus Höttges

The starting point: a European strategic alliance on AI 

Deutsche Telekom and Orange share the same values and have already formed a European strategic alliance on artificial intelligence (AI). Over the last two years, the two companies have brought together a team of 150 French and German engineers to work on a common project. Together, from Châtillon in France to Darmstadt in Germany, they’ve been developing common AI software and hardware components, while pooling their skills and resources in this field.  

The voice assistant Djingo from Orange and smart speaker Hallo Magenta from Deutsche Telekom illustrate the strategic alliance’s joint expertise. “I firmly believe this partnership is just the beginning of a close collaboration between Deutsche Telekom and Orange, where we can bring our shared values and perspectives on a digital Europe to life,” explains Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange.

A digital Europe, more necessary now than ever

Creating a digital Europe is a common priority for both companies. Indeed, in light of the major American platforms and Chinese industrial policy, Europe has already lost the first digital battle (mass market digital transformation). “We’re now about to lose the second battle around data and AI,” warns Timotheus Höttges, Chairman and CEO of Deutsche Telekom. “For example, only 4% of global data is actually stored in Europe!”   

It is therefore necessary to move the European economy towards an inherently digital model. This economic breakthrough must be backed up by political commitments: Europe has to improve its digital infrastructure and invest more resources into it because it is just as important as road or rail networks. Without favourable conditions, Europe will never take the lead in 5G, AIor the Cloud. The EU must also flex its muscles when it comes to internet security, quantum computing, photonics, nanotechnologies and smart cities. These are key future technologies that demand high-performing infrastructure. 

Europe has many assets to meet this challenge

“We have a long history of excellence when it comes to scientific research. We have some of the best engineers and universities in the world, an exceptional manufacturing base and a booming ecosystem of innovative start-ups,” says Stéphane Richard. Some of them have been developing world-leading AI such as DeepMind in the UK and Skype in Sweden.

“We believe Europe is smart enough to live up to its potential,” Timotheus Höttges reassures us. “But we have to act now and promote an economic model based on democratic values and human rights As with the General Data Protection Regulation: Europe has set new standards for democracy and competitiveness by improving data protection for its citizens.

Encouraging progress by making technology useful: an imperative

In China, 91% of businesses believe in the potential of AI. In the United States this figure grows to 97%, while in Germany it drops to just 51%! “We can’t tackle digital transformation with this mindset,” says Timotheus Höttges. We have to be bold and optimistic. The real battle when it comes to AI will be making it useful. “Making AI useful to everyone means ensuring it meets our daily needs,” concludes Stéphane Richard. “This is our vision for a European AI, our state of mind.”