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T-Systems goes virtual to dispense a dose of smart-factory reality

DT’s campus network solutions remain one of its key areas of go-to-market focus around enterprise 5G. The Group has set up a joint Center Connected Industry with Ericsson at RWTH Aachen University, and further installations at universities in Austria, Czech Republic, and Croatia, to showcase their possibilities to clients. They are also a mainstay of DT’s exhibition displays.

With COVID‑19 restrictions limiting companies’ options when it comes to marketing at physical locations, however, the Group has had to look at alternative ways to get its smart-factory messages across.

Earlier in 2020, T‑Systems asked virtual reality content discovery startup Immersionn to develop an “experiential” engine offering users the chance to tour a networked campus virtually. “T‑Systems wanted their industry target audience to be engaged with a segment of their portfolio dedicated to the factory of the future, such as 5G campus, production line automation, or industrial security”, said Alexandra Hussenot, Chief Executive of Immersionn. “In the past they would have done this [at] a trade show, but now wanted to approach it digitally”, she added.

Built on gaming engine Unity, the platform provides 3D representations (or “web twins”) of different Future Factory solutions, like tracking of ‘smart-parts’ and connected labelling of shipments, and for T‑Sys’ purposes focuses on accessibility, search engine optimisation, and analytics. “The main objectives with the web twins are to increase the ‘average time on page’ to come closer to the time one would typically engage with T‑Systems on a tradeshow. Ultimately, the solution increases the acquisition of qualified leads for T‑Systems”, said Hussenot.

Regarding possible future developments, Hussenot said the Immersionn platform is upgradeable to VR, tying in more closely with the business’ main focus as a portal for VR content. She also sees wider opportunities to take business-to-business use-cases of VR further. “I hope we can test this next generation web twin with T‑Systems to offer a more extensive computer game like digital event platform”, she said.

Like T-Sys, Immersionn itself has been forced to pivot during the COVID‑19 crisis, placing more focus on B2B applications for VR. “Nobody knows how the market will react as restrictions are eased”, said Hussenot. “I doubt large conferences will exist in the form we had known them for the coming 18 months and so COVID is forcing us into a gale of creative destruction”.

For the T‑Systems project, the lead on T‑Systems’ side is the person usually managing the physical events. In this sense, T‑Systems’ speed of adaptation has been very inspiring for me, and they have recognised that in certain areas new skills in the digital space are required. In 18 months, once we have deployed so many innovations, I don’t see how we will go back to where we were before. But we might settle into hybrid models”, she added.

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