Meet the Agents of Transformation - Deutsche Telekom IT GmbH

Augusto Dé Abreu, Solution Architect IoT (M2M), Deutsche Telekom IT GmbH

Augusto Dé Abreu is Solutions Architect IoT at DeutscheTelekom IT GmbH. He has years of experience in software development, IT architecture, project management and consulting in various industries such as banking, insurance, metals, geographic information systems and telecommunications.

Describe your role at Deutsche Telekom and how the digital transformation relates to your daily work.

Since July 2017 I have been working for Deutsche Telekom in the area of M2M, i.e. Machine-2-Machine.

In short, it’s about IoT (internet of things) for business customers. Deutsche Telekom offers a central connectivity platform (TMSP Telekom M2M Service Platform), which our customers can use to order and manage SIM cards and the associated connectivity services. The actions taken in this platform have an influence right up to the actual active network, so what happens in this platform has a direct impact on the customer experience.

I am responsible for developing this platform further as part of an interdisciplinary team, to optimize the existing functionality and integrate extensions into the existing IT structure in a meaningful way. We are always looking for ways to develop IT architecture in alignment with delivering digital services to meet the customer needs.

In the course of our digital transformations, and with the increasing demand of the customers, the requirements on scalability grow, bringing with it increased complexity.  It is often said that complexity should be reduced, however, I don’t think that will ever happen, because the world around us is becoming more complex. In my opinion it is not about reducing complexity, but about controlling it.

What is the most exciting transformation project you’ve worked on and why did they mean so much to you?

The biggest transformation project – in my short time at Deutsche Telekom – has been the introduction of AppDynamics. Previous projects corresponded to the expansion of the application and the focus on increasing in quality. The exciting thing about AppDynamics, especially in terms of manageability of complexity and transparency, is that we now have a tool that makes it easier for us to make technical interrelationships accessible to anyone across the business in a single pane of glass via the dashboards. Historically, pulling this data took days or weeks. AppDynamics enables us to do the same thing in a few minutes. This relieves the burden on employees who no longer have to spend their time searching for problems – instead they can focus on solving them.

What do you think is most exciting about being an Agent of Transformation

The charming thing for me is that I have the chance to make a difference and realize my ideas and I find it exciting that there are so many solutions that simplify life in IT and enable you to achieve higher quality results. However, it can sometimes be difficult to convince others of these solutions and innovations. This makes it all the more exciting for me to show how these new technologies can answer the questions being raised by my colleagues and bring huge value to their roles and to the wider business.

For many technologists, the easy thing is to not look beyond the end of your nose and continue working as given. Also, as there are so many solutions out there it is often hard to have a comprehensive view of the options. It’s just too overwhelming for many.

I try to think about it differently, in so much as there is often no truly disruptive innovation, but instead existing concepts repeating themselves! What is new is only the use case behind it. It is only when you think in terms of concepts that you notice that so many things repeat themselves. The methodology itself does not change, just as in cooking or building with Lego bricks. The difference is in the possibilities of the resources (ingredients, building blocks) you have at your disposal, and how you choose to combine them – that is what will change the result.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received on your way to becoming an Agent of Transformation? Do you have a motto or maxim that you use to inform your approach?

Keep educating yourself! Especially in an area that you are not actively working in day to day. For example, I find the Harvard concept quite exciting. It’s about negotiating. In my experience, in IT you spend a lot of time negotiating in one way or another, so it’s a critical skill to have!

This concept is based on the realization that people often communicate their position, but not their interests. In IT, that would be the classic “no, that’s not possible”. Initially, that viewpoint could be completely valid.

But what’s important is to start there and qualify further, e.g. what are the framework conditions that will make it work? I don’t ask why something doesn’t work, but under what circumstances something will work.  At the same time, by asking further questions you can awaken the interest of the other party. People feel understood and that their opinion is being taken into consideration. It’s important to understand someone else’s situation, put yourself in their shoes, and think about how your idea can help them and support their needs.

Of course, it’s not always straightforward and it can be easy to let yourself become demotivated when your run up against these hurdles. I find it helpful to remember that when people voice reservations, it’s only because they are focused on what’s best for their respective project – they may not yet understand how your idea or innovation might help them. Focus on these people first – by winning them over you will have great champions to support your ideas when it comes to selling the idea to others. Communicate clearly and empathize with the challenges they face. In the end, this will make the process of driving innovation and transformation much easier.

What are the organizational qualities that are essential to enabling and supporting Agents of Transformation?

Any company looking to enable Agents of Transformation must be willing to give them the responsibility and authority to make decisions. I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this is handled at Deutsche Telekom. Amongst other things, this includes the manager’s perception of their role and responsibility being a supporter and enabler for their team to create change and to help identify and solve problems. At the same time employees aren’t just doers, implementing other people’s ideas. Of course, this requires a culture that sees mistakes as a key part of the learning process and critical for personal development. In addition, I think it is important to give employees the opportunity to participate in projects that are exciting for them. When employees are tasked with working on projects based on their personal preferences and what interests them, they are more motivated and willing to push themselves to achieve even more.

What should technologists that are aspiring to become Agents of Transformation be looking for in their current role or next role?

For me personally it’s important to find a job in a technical field that is driving real change and innovation.  I also attach great importance to being given the freedom to work in my own way. This includes, for example, flexible working hours, working from home as well as leeway in the choice of projects I can get involved in. Another important aspect is that the company supports the development of its employees. This can be achieved through training and the option to attend and even participate as a speaker at industry conferences.

It is very important to me that what I do for a company is not just relevant for the business, but also for the wider market, and of course for me personally. So the best type of job is one where you can accelerate the success of the business you work for, and your own career. That’s what I’ve found at my current job.

Finally, working alongside a great team of people is really important. I’ve always been lucky and found myself in a friendly circle of colleagues. If you can find a team that you enjoy working with, I always think that it feels less like work and more like you’re simply doing what you enjoy.

How has AppDynamics enabled you to take a more customer-centric approach and what impact has this had on you personally and on your organization?

We introduced AppDynamics directly into the production environment and were immediately successful in the sense that we quickly identified issues and their root causes, and could immediately pass them on to the developers to resolve. AppDynamics is the tool that gives us real-time transparency into what’s going on across our digital services.

We are still in the early stages of rolling out AppDynamics, so today 10 colleagues are using the solution, but once we have completed the training, we will expand this number to 30 people up and down the value chain (tester, developer, operations and incident management). We can already see that we will save significant costs and free up resources, particularly around Incident Management, where the team will be able to create their own dashboards and no longer rely on the developers to do it for them. It’s exciting that the days of programming our own monitoring solution – which so often happens – are over!

How are you going about ensuring that you continue to have the right skills, tools and data you need to deliver genuine transformation?

After 18 years in IT, I have gained a broad understanding across many IT disciplines, along with specialist knowledge in specific areas. But it’s critical to continually build on those skills, which is why I attend events and conferences where I value the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and opinions with my peers and learn about cutting edge technologies and how others are approaching the challenge of digital transformation. Beyond technology, I also attend seminars on areas of personal development such as the psychology of managing people and driving change.  I have learnt over the years that you cannot change people. You can only change yourself. Only then will the people around you change.

"Any company looking to enable Agents of Transformation must be willing to give them the responsibility and authority to make decisions."

Become an Agent of Transformation

Your journey starts here. Learn about the 5 types of technologist, take our assessment and find out how to propel your career to the next level with AppDynamics.