Christoph Aeschlimann

Christoph Aeschlimann

Visiting the Outpost

For the first time since his appointment, the new CTO is visiting Silicon Valley

Since February 2019, Christoph Aeschlimann has been head of IT, Network & Infrastructure at Swisscom. So it was about time to visit the Outpost in Palo Alto. At the beginning of September, Aeschlimann visited Silicon Valley together with Frank Dederichs, head of Enterprise Architecture, and other Swisscom colleagues.

In addition to getting to know the Outpost and its staff, various visits were on the agenda. The first meetings took place at VMware and Dell Technologies in Palo Alto, who have both been important partners and suppliers for Swisscom for a long time. After that, the visit continued to Andreessen Horowitz, one of the leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. This was followed by presentations from telco start-ups on the topics of network intelligence and virtualization.

The second day began with a visit to Facebook and a meeting with the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP). Besides an introduction to TIP, the various project groups focused on topics such as network virtualization, edge computing and machine learning for network operators. Afterwards, it was back to the Swisscom Outpost for a lunch session with all staff members, who introduced themselves and their activities. Finally, two start-ups came to the office to present their solutions in the area of 5G.

As usual with visits to the Outpost, the tour group was invited to an American-style barbecue involving all Swisscom employees in the USA. The so-called Impossible Sausages, consisting of plant-based meat and milk substitutes without any animal-based ingredients, provided plenty of material to keep the conversation going. This too is an invention from Silicon Valley – it’s practically required to have eaten it, or at least seen it…

Picture: (upper row, from left to right) Stephan Massalt, Jeffrey Gantner, Lukas Peter, Frank Dederichs, Simon Zwahlen, Peter Messer, Christoph Aeschlimann, Cornelius Heckrott, Marcus Dahlén, Stefan Petzov; (lower row, from left to right) Jörg Wagner, Roland Bieri, Zohaib Khan and Ned Vasic.

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Booklet about the anniversary

Booklet about the anniversary

Since 1998, Swisscom has been operating an Outpost in Silicon Valley. With Berlin and Shanghai, two more locations have recently been added. Former and current Outpost leaders look back on twenty fascinating years in which technological development has changed the world significantly. Order the booklet now or download it!

In a multi-part series on our website, we looked back at the Swisscom Outpost’s 20 years in Silicon Valley. The various contributions by former and current Outpost leaders have now been put together in a booklet.

The result is a 62-page publication in English and German with numerous photos and an overview table containing the technological and entrepreneurial developments of the last 20 years.

Order or download it

  • Download the booklet here for free
  • Order the booklet via blurb.com for the anniversary price of $ 20.00 (excl. shipping and taxes)

We hope you enjoy reading the history of the Swisscom Outpost!

Palo Alto, August 2019

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20 Years of Outpost

20 Years of Outpost

“Swisscom has a place in Silicon Valley”

Roger Wühtrich-Hasenböhler is Head of Swisscom Digital Business. In his editorial, he looks back at the 20-year presence of Swiscom in Silicon Valley and looks ahead to the future of the Outpost.

Who would have thought in 1998 that Swisscom would still have a presence in Silicon Valley 20 years later?

What began as a small outpost for observing ongoing developments related to the Internet now involves the full spectrum of technical innovation and is an integral part of the Swisscom world.

The same year Swisscom was reorganized as a joint stock corporation and, step by step, was partially privatized, the first employees set foot in Silicon Valley, which at the time was still in its early development. Truly a pioneering achievement!

When the Internet bubble burst shortly thereafter and many other telecommunications companies withdrew, Swisscom held its ground and adapted to the new conditions. We were thus present from the very beginning of this new era.

Thanks to this far-sightedness, we were able to experience at first hand the increasing emergence of innovative startups and also shape the rapid technological developments, especially following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

Now more than ever, Swisscom has a place in Silicon Valley and enjoys an excellent reputation. The constant care for and ongoing expansion of our network has made us a true participant in this unique ecosystem.

This benefits not just our employees, but also our customers, suppliers and partners in various ways. Through the Outpost, we bring external innovation to Swisscom and thus contribute to the growth of the company.

But not only that: Today, our Outpost has become a hub for the entire Swiss economy. We also represent Switzerland in Silicon Valley and help shape the future of our country through an open innovation process.

In addition to Silicon Valley, we have recently established a presence in Berlin and Shanghai. Together with the established Outpost, this reflects our aspiration to be present in other hotspots and to be on the hunt for emerging trends around the world.

The Outpost is a success story that is able to look back on an impressive past, enjoys a vibrant present and can expect an interesting future. Here’s to exciting years yet to come and path-breaking developments that will change our Swisscom world!

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, July 2019. Roger Wühtrich-Hasenböhler is Head of Swisscom Digital Business.

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CES Asia in Shanghai

CES Asia in Shanghai

Focus on AI-based Interpretation Handset and Electronic Car

In its fifth year, CES Asia 2019 brought the full tech ecosystem together from June 11-13, 2019 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). More than 500 exhibiting companies around the world and 125+ innovative startups from China, France, Norway, Switzerland and United States participated in this show.

By collaboration with Swissnex China, Swisscom Outpost China is one of the important sponsors for the SwissTech Pavilion at Startup Park. We welcomed 21 startups from Switzerland to present their innovative technologies focus on AI, Blockchain, IoT, AR, eHealth, Drone & Robotics etc in the show.

Vehicle Technology, AR/VR & Robotics, AI & IoT and Startups are the four main topics in this year’s CES show. The event featured the latest concept cars and connected vehicles from self-driving to all-electric; in addition to the entertainment and the daily housekeeping, the virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) and robotics has been applied to health care, job training, farming, shopping, retail, beauty, sports, education, tourism and much more.

During the 3 days show, we visited all 5 exhibiting centers. So many exciting technologies and products have been presented. Especially the following emerging technology trends have been clearly observed at this year’s show:

5G:
New 5G hardware has been announced by Huawei. 5G is driving innovation across industries, from smart cities to digital health and self-driving vehicles. Across Asia, infrastructure updates continue in anticipation of wide deployment of 5G, which will bring faster speeds, larger data capacity and lower latency.

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Artificial intelligence techniques, such as machine learning, and object recognition are fueling innovation. This year’s CES featured the companies at the forefront of AI such as Cheeta Mobile, IFlytek, Sogou.  In healthcare, AI is being used for tasks such as reviewing cancer screenings, while in retail, consumers use facial recognition to pay for goods at unmanned cashier-less stores.

Startups:

Startup Park at CES Asia featured more than 125 diverse startups to present their products on a global stage.  “Welcome to Switzerland” at SwissTech Pavilion is the biggest camp at Startup Park to present the leading innovative technologies from Switzerland such as AI, IoT, Robotics etc.

Vehicle Tech:

CES Asia 2019 doubled its vehicle tech footprint on the show floor and featured the latest concept cars and connected vehicles – from self-driving to all electric. China is the world’s largest market for self-driving vehicles. In addition to the traditional car manufactures, we observed newcomers such as Neusoft and Baidu also entering this market to make cars greener, safer and more fun to drive. New forms of mobility will drive innovation in transportation in Asia and around the global, as ebikes and motorized scooters gain larger prominence.

Our Key Observation and Analysis

From this year’s show, we clearly observed two hot spots which already had been matured and well commercialized into the Chinese market:
1. AI-based Interpretation Handset or Tool Kit eg. Sogou and iFlytek
2. Electronic Car especially Chinese brand such as Great-wall Motor, SAIC Motor and HongQi

The application of AR/VR will be the next hot spot widely commercialized into the market, expected the second half of 2019 or beginning of 2020 especially with 5G technology’s strong support.

However, the commercialized application of 5G is still in hot concept stage in China and many exhibitors showed their latest 5G technology concepts such as remote control and support, for example, SAIC Motor’s remote-control driving/repairing from 50km away.

References:
CES Official Website: http://www.cesasia.cn/
CES Official Wechat: 亚洲消费电子展CESAsia
Swissnex China publish on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6544091846509985792

By Judy Wei, Shanghai, July 2019

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Swisscom Outpost in Berlin

Swisscom Outpost in Berlin

Jasmin Samsudeen, Head of Outpost, Berlin.
The Outpost is located at the Factory in the center of Berlin next to the former Wall.

Lots of creative potential and stimulating internationality

Swisscom has been active in Berlin since 2015 and today also operates an Outpost there. The German capital has one of the fastest-growing start-up ecosystems in the world and its tech scene is rich, vibrant and full of enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Jasmin Samsudeen is responsible for the Berlin Outpost. Here she talks about her day-to-day life.

The Outpost Berlin got its start with the project “Siroop.” At the time, Swisscom wanted to build an e-commerce marketplace together with Coop. The foundations for it were laid with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well experts on platforms and digitalization. Company builders like Rocket Internet often find role models for their companies in business models that have already proved to be effective in the United States or China. They then give them the final polish practically overnight, taking them from a start-up to a potential IPO. At this point, e-commerce is no longer setting the course for the industry in Berlin. From the areas of hyperlocal, FinTech and digital marketing, to specialized software solutions and fields of applied artificial intelligence, the Berlin start-up ecosystem is booming in the growth fields of our future.

Dynamic Networking at the Factory

Since the days of “Siroop,” the Outpost has been housed at the Factory in the center of Berlin next to the former Wall. In addition to well-known start-up companies Like 6Wunderkinder, Soundcloud, Twitter, Uber, and Zendesk, corporations such as Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Audi have taken up residence at the Factory. These companies cooperate as incubators for other start-ups such as Finchtechdb, which among other things participated in the Kickstart accelerator and is now creating a FinTech map for Swisscom Digital Business.

A dynamic networking environment was an important criterion for us in the selection of the location. Unlike a classic co-working space where everyone is in it for themselves, the Factory is a kind of community and offers regular meetups on a wide range of topics. It’s also possible to conduct a focused search there for start-ups and freelancers to support us in our projects.

The Factory is in many ways the starting point for networking in Berlin. On the Factory campus, there are workplaces that can also be used by Swisscom employees, networks, consulting services, event space and other forms of support.

Leading the e-SME Sector

The Berlin ecosystem is in general characterized by this idea of community. The openness and cooperation among young entrepreneurs is palpable throughout the city. People support each other, learn from each other and try to move forward by combining their efforts. In addition, Berlin has a lot of creative potential and has a stimulating internationality. The city is also subject to constant change.

Berlin is and will remain just as much of an attractive location for large and medium-sized companies as it is for start-ups. In addition to Swisscom, Microsoft, Daimler, Vodafone, Lufthansa, SAP and Google, numerous large corporations are establishing a presence in Berlin with their innovation outposts. The Berlin start-up cult is attracting foreign investors as well as a German and international workforce. Although life is becoming increasingly expensive here too, Berlin has one of the lowest costs of living among European capital cities.

In Europe, where the start-up scene is highly fragmented, Berlin epitomizes the e-SME sector. Small and medium-sized enterprises are extremely important in the German-speaking world in particular. Many developments in the digitalization of their business sectors, even if they are only niches, are emerging here.

Organizing Partnerships and Putting Collaborations On Track

In all these areas, we keep our eyes and ears open for Swisscom in Berlin. Our representatives, for example local.ch, which along with localcities.ch has digitalized all services related to municipalities and associations, are cooperating with experienced digital experts in Berlin. In addition, start-ups serve as inspirations, role models, potential partners and future service providers.

Innovations that have proven effective in German-speaking countries usually work in Switzerland as well. In this respect, we are organizing partnerships, putting collaborations on track and building cost-effective prototypes in record time with the help of our external production site. These help Swisscom to test new types of services and products at an early stage and to validate them for their customers.

Swisscom employees from Switzerland who come to Berlin for a few weeks or months at a time are also participating in these projects. As part of the “Stars@Outpost” programm, which is also offered in Silicon Valley, we offer talented and interested colleagues the opportunity to be inspired by this fascinating environment in Berlin and to gain new perspectives on their projects.

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, 10 June 2019. Jasmin Samsudeen is Head of Outpost, Berlin.

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Swisscom Outpost Shanghai

Swisscom Outpost Shanghai

“The constant unpredictability is a major challenge”

Judy Wei, Senior Innovation manager, Outpost Shanghai (left) and Yanqing Wyrsch, Head of Oupost, Shanghai (right)

Swisscom Outpost office located in the Xnode Incubation Center

Swisscom Outpost in Shanghai

Since 2016, Swisscom has operated an Outpost in Shanghai. China’s largest city in terms of population is well known as a global financial center and start-up hub. Yanqing Wyrsch is responsible for the Shanghai Outpost. She talks with us about her everyday life.

The idea for an Outpost in Shanghai arose in 2016. After a detailed analysis of the extent to which Swisscom would be able to operate in China at all and whether it would also add value, a final decision was reached in mid-2017. We now have the status of a ‘representative office’ because the telecom industry is government controlled and therefore no licenses are granted for operational activities.

However, it still took several months just to reach this point and to be entered in the trade registry. We have been officially active in Shanghai since September 1, 2018. Everything takes its time here… Certain things, such as opening a bank account, take much longer. At least for the moment, about 60% of our work consists of administrative overhead.

High Interest in China

It also took a lot of time to recruit an employee. It wasn’t easy to find someone who met our expectations. Finally, I was able to bring the former managing director of L’Atelier, the Shanghai outpost of BNP Paribas, to Swisscom. Since the beginning of the year, Judy Wei has been shoring up our Outpost, and now as a team of two, we are much better positioned than before.

Our primary tasks include local scouting, introducing the various Swisscom units to the Chinese market and accompanying their forays into the market. Unlike Silicon Valley, where scouting focuses heavily on new technologies and ventures, here it’s more about the business model and consumer trends. It’s of interest how new technologies are used in the market and how consumers react to them.

In connection with the whole transformation through digitalization, we are organizing visits and exchange opportunities with Chinese firms and start-ups for various areas of Swisscom. This is about being better able to understand and be inspired by the innovation going on here. Interest in China within Swisscom is huge and shows the importance of our presence in Shanghai.

An Ecosystem Within an Ecosystem

Our office is located in the Xnode Incubation Center. The interesting thing about this location is that half the tenants are start-ups, and the other half is comprised of companies. Thanks to this mix, we have rapid access to new and innovative developments and, through interaction with the other companies, also benefit from their experience in the Chinese market.

In addition, about 50% of the resident firms are Chinese and 50% are international. This is an advantage in that not everything that works in the Chinese market is also suitable for Western culture and our society. By observing how other foreign companies are proceeding, we can better estimate what we can and cannot bring to Switzerland.

The interaction among the various companies is well organized. We have weekly topic-specific events where people present their projects to each other. That’s why our center is its own small ecosystem. In a country where 12,000 new start-ups are being created every day, it is impossible to keep track of everything. The companies that take up residence with us have already cleared the first hurdles and are capable of accomplishing something.

Rapid development

Maintaining contact with start-ups is quite demanding. This is less the case in the early stages of a company, when you can gain access very quickly and the companies are very open, than it is later. Good start-ups here grow within a few months from a handful of employees to several hundred. The parameters and the contact partners also change accordingly.

Development is rapid, and so meetings cannot be planned far in advance. It has already happened several times that a few weeks after we found an interesting start-up, we had to start the evaluation process over again because our contact person was no longer in charge and the business and general conditions had changed.

From Development to Prohibition

This can also be strikingly observed in daily life. In 2017, for example, the sharing economy was a major topic. Within a brief time, there were thousands of bicycles on the street that could be rented through an app. Today, most of them have disappeared again because new laws were created that restrict this for various reasons.

Topics relating to blockchain, FinTech and especially Bitcoin were also huge in 2017 and seemingly limitless. Today, Bitcoin trading is prohibited by law. This does not mean, however, that no further work is being done in these areas or that no new developments are emerging. But this constant unpredictability is a major challenge for us. What is true today no longer applies tomorrow…

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, 2 May 2019. Yanqing Wyrsch is Head of Outpost, Shanghai.

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