From Iteration to Invention

How Telefónica's Customer Obsession Delivers Results

A conversation with Chema Alonso, Chief Digital Officer at Telefónica

As Telefónica's Chief Digital Officer, Chema Alonso is responsible for the innovation of digital products, data, and platforms at one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. Hear Alonso share how Telefónica's enterprise business enables innovation for their customers through new media, television and entertainment viewing experiences.

Reinventing the customer experience in the living room

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Telefónica is the primary provider of video, Wi-Fi, telephone and IoT systems and services to consumers in multiple countries. But during the pandemic, Chema Alonso and Telefónica recognized there was an opportunity to do more for their customers. As the pandemic sank in and customers shifted their day-to-day lives to be more centered around the home, Telefónica sought to innovate their communications platform that was now more important than ever for people looking to stay connected, entertained, and more.

Instead of starting with a product in mind, together with AWS Innovation Programs, Telefónica analyzed the customer’s needs and worked backwards toward what would add value for the customer. The team recognized an opportunity to bring Amazon e-commerce into its television platform, Movistar Plus+, through one of its Living Apps. Opening the home ecosystem to the Amazon marketplace meant providing access to over 20,000 four-star products to help customers during their time at home. The Working Backwards engagement helped drive a new approach for iterative innovation, leading to more scale.

The most wonderful thing is that two big corporations like Amazon and Telefónica can focus on small things for the customer that can be great later. The details are critical to customers’ experiences and our success in the market.”

Learn. iterate. scale.

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Telefónica and Amazon Web Services history goes back to 2012 to the Smart Steps project, which solidified the organizations’ common commitments to customer obsession and iterating on behalf of the customer. Amazon Web Services had proven itself as a trusted strategic partner whose contributions to the product development process would result in a win for Telefónica and the people they serve.

Telefónica created access to over 20,000 four-star products on available for purchase on the Selección Hogar de Movistar Living App of their customers’ smart TVs. The product offerings are constantly updated, and provide customers the ability to shop for home décor, cooking items, DIY supplies, and other useful items.

The initiative is available in over 1.9 million homes in Spain and is now being rolled-out throughout Latin America. Customers deeply appreciate the ability to discuss purchases and compare products together in their own home, transforming the shopping experience into something the whole family can share – new consumer behaviour that provides Telefónica with useful insights to improve its relationship with the customer.

Start small. In innovation, you are always learning, so don't look for the best solution. Start with a minimum viable product, listen to the customer, and continuously refine the product.”

Continuously innovate

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The customer-obsessed innovation process is part of an ongoing flywheel. Next is continued iteration. Telefónica plans include providing the ability for customers to finalize their transactions through mobile phone, web, or on their smart TVs as they shop. Secondly, they are iterating to open the home ecosystem to third-party providers. Further expanding the architecture and experience this way opens up opportunities for merchandising, media events, and a future roadmap for digital innovation.

What advice do you have for other executives embarking on digital innovation?

Alonso: Start small. In innovation, you are always learning, so don't look for the best solution. Start with a minimum viable product, listen to the customer, and continuously refine the product. Never think of a project as being “at the end.” Even if you are a big corporation, focus on a small project that could grow into something big. That's the best learning for me.

Chema AlonsoChief Digital Officer at Telefónica

Chema Alonso joined the Telefónica S.A. Executive Committee in 2016 and is currently Chief Digital Officer. In this role, he oversees innovation, data, platforms, digital products and services as well as Network APIs (Network as a Service). He leads the strategy for the digitalization of sales processes and customer communication channels and promotes the innovation of new digital products and services. He also supports the generation of internal efficiency through big data and artificial intelligence. Chema holds a PhD in Computer Security from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and a Technical Engineering degree in Computer Systems from Universidad Politécnica Madrid.

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