Sabine Scheunert Mercedes digital

How Mercedes Digital is focusing on users not only drivers (Sabine Scheunert)

Sabine Scheunert’s goal  as Vice President Digital & IT Marketing/Sales at Mercedes-Benz Daimler AG is to conquer new target audiences beyond current Mercedes-Benz Car Drivers. She is tackling this challenge by working in self-organized swarms within the Mercedes Digital Unit to be able to change and adapt quickly. To work together with Sabine you don’t have to be a car nerd in the traditional sense.

You want to learn how you teams can have the ability to change and adapt quickly to new challenges by working in swarms. Follow Sabine’s talk Why IT is driving the future at #ada18 in Berlin in October. 

Interview with Sabine Scheunert
(Mercedes-Benz Daimler AG)

Sabine, do I have to be a car nerd to become part of the Mercedes Digital Unit? Who are the people you’re looking for?

Sabine Scheunert: We are looking for people with a genuine interest in making people’s live’s better, more comfortable and easy. You don’t have to be a car nerd in the traditional sense, but you will definitely benefit from a knowledge (even passion) of mobility in general. What we are especially looking for is an interest and intrinsic motivation for finding answers to questions like: “what will mobility look like in ten years?” and “what services are our customers expecting from us?”.

You are working in swarms at Mercedes. What are the characteristics of this mode of operation?

Sabine Scheunert:  In a highly complex and volatile world, success will depend on our ability to change and adapt quickly to new challenges. Which is why a major part of our unit is working in swarms. Swarm means working together in cross-functional teams, sharing knowledge and having a personal stake in reaching our vision. The idea of “self-organization” is fundamental to a swarm-organization. Swarm-teams have more freedom of action and greater flexibility – but they must be highly self-motivated. It’s almost like Swarms are internal entrepreneurs within our company.

I recently heard about a new Mercedes-Benz employee called ”Sarah”. Who’s Sarah?

Sabine Scheunert: Brought to life by our colleagues at Daimler Financial Services and startup partner Soul Machines, “Sarah” is a cutting-edge virtual “human” and the future of highly personalized and interactive customer engagement. With “Sarah” we create a mix of emotional intelligence and human support. Through this brand-new touchpoint, it is shown how emotional intelligence is influencing customer experience and will change the face of digital customer interaction. “Sarah” will provide customers with 24/7 access to a digital face and persona, with a human touch. “Sarah” is currently in the Proof of Concept phase.

Will the future Mercedes-Benz customer necessarily need to own a private vehicle?

Sabine Scheunert: In the future, basically everyone could be a Mercedes-Benz customer or a user of our services. We want to reach out and conquer new target audiences beyond current Mercedes-Benz Car Drivers: other car drivers, people with mobility needs and smartphone owners. Our main driver is to translate what Mercedes-Benz stands for in the digital sphere and convey The BEST and most LUXURIOUS experience at every digital Mercedes-Benz touch-point, fulfilling genuine consumer needs. We want to establish a digital ecosystem that is indispensable to the lives of our users. Therefore, we further expand and develop digital services, independent from vehicle sales, along the entire value chain and customer journey.

You are partners with the company of another #ada18 speaker. Mercedes-Benz has integrated what3words in their navigation system. How do such co-operations take shape? Does Daimler have start-up “scouts”?

Sabine Scheunert: The digital & IT team at Mercedes-Benz has made the deliberate choice not to compete with start-ups, but instead to collaborate with them. We have a variety of structured and semi-structured approaches for screening and scouting start-ups: Start-up Autobahn, The Startup Intelligence Centre, and The Bridge Builders.
For example, in March 2017, we announced our co-operative partnership with Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting System, known as The Bridge Builders. The goal of the program is to team up with talented startups to ensure we can develop and deliver new technologies and innovations to our customers as quickly, and as brilliantly as possible. One of the key startup partners we selected from The Bridge Builders was Anagog – a pioneer in smartphone sensor signal processing. Powered by Anagog’s JedAI Artificial Intelligence engine, we developed the EQ Ready app which lets drivers simulate the use of a greener and more efficient car.

Sabine ScheunertSabine Scheunert has been heading up the digital unit at Mercedes-Benz as Vice President Digital & IT Marketing/Sales Mercedes-Benz since July 2016. This newly created function brings with it responsibility for the whole range of associated IT-based marketing, sales and after-sales activities – and for the entire scope of digital customer experiences for the Mercedes-Benz brand. In addition to the continued expansion of the company’s pioneering IT landscape, Sabine Scheunert’s remit also includes the development of new and profitable customer-centric digital services. The digital unit operates on a global scale and cooperates with a wide range of incubators and start-ups – right around the world. Sabine Scheunert is also the CIO of Mercedes me, the Mercedes-Benz personalised customer portal. Sabine Scheunert studied Business Mathematics in Bielefeld, Germany, and European Business Management at the German Business School (FDHW). In 1998, subsequent to graduation, she launched her career in the automobile industry at BMW, where she occupied a number of positions in Germany and France, ultimately in an executive function in product management, before relocation to Eastern Europe for BMW in 2006. In 2010 Sabine Scheunert joined PSA Peugeot Citroën in Paris and worked for the French automobile manufacturer as the worldwide head of Customer Relationship Management for all the brands under the PSA banner. As the first ever female CEO within the PSA Peugeot Citroën Group, Ms. Scheunert managed business activities for the Group’s Citroën brand in Shanghai from the beginning of 2015 until her move to Mercedes-Benz.

Advertorial disclosure: Daimler Mercedes-Benz is a premium partner of Ada Lovelace Festival 2018.