Creating value with technology
Interview with Gülnaz Önes

Creating value with technology

Gülnaz Önes, Chief Information Officer of Mercedes-Benz Mobility, has been driving the technology landscape and digital transformation of our financial services business globally since June 2022. Her IT organisation and her passion for innovation are setting the pace for not only seamless and extraordinary customer experiences but also the future growth of Mercedes-Benz Mobility.

Join us in this insightful interview with our tech leader, who shares some insights into the company’s transformation path, future of customer services and her people-first approach.

1. Gülnaz, firstly, we would like to know what excites you the most about your job?

Technology has a significant impact in business outcomes, and I am excited every day about the opportunity of leveraging it at best to provide our customers with extraordinary digital services and products. Mercedes-Benz Mobility is a tech-forward service company, and there is not a single business process that does not involve software or code. Working in our IT department is incredibly exciting, as we shape the business transformation alongside with our global teams and partners.

2. How are you leveraging technology as competitive differentiator for Mercedes-Benz Mobility?

With our cutting-edge technology, we make our customers interaction with us and our products as fast and convenient as possible. We aim for 5 clicks to buy, 3 more to finance or lease a Mercedes-Benz.

To make this a reality, the online direct sales process and the offline world will be perfectly connected, so that we can ensure a consistent experience, in which customers easily switch from the one to the other, and experience the same extraordinary customer service both online and in-person.

I will give you some figures: Our fast online customer journey starts with our online Finance Calculator, which offers our customers a leasing or financing calculation in about 100 milliseconds. In China, 99% of contracts are created digitally and paid out in less than 10 minutes.

Another example how we leverage tech is our native in-car payment service Mercedes pay+. We turned the car into a payment device – similar to a smartphone. It’s simple, convenient and secure.

3. How is the role of IT and technology changing within Mercedes-Benz Mobility?

The main role of IT, which is to digitise processes, govern the architecture roadmap and operate the technology portfolio remains unchanged. We continue focusing on customers’ needs, leveraging latest technologies as well as coding our own software, unlocking the potential of data in the most productive way to create value for our Mercedes-Benz customers.

However, in a world where technology rapidly disrupts industries, and the sophistication of products and services increases, some other responsibilities gain greater importance. Firstly, we need to ensure that the technology landscape and the architecture can quickly adapt to changing needs and remain lean, secure, and efficient. That requires a clear vision, an effective governance process, as well as a cross-functional working model, that ensures to connect and engage product teams to follow the strategy, contribute, reuse, and learn from each other. Secondly, managing skills and retaining talents become a key focus area. Thirdly, establishing an agile product delivery model becomes a top priority to enable a customer-centric and productive delivery through cross-functional experts.

4. What will be the technology trends in the financial services field?

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial services, several significant technology trends are set to shape the industry's future, particularly the integration of digital technologies for data-driven solutions. This encompasses optimising operational processes and increasing efficiency with technologies that help the business collect, store, connect and analyse large volumes of data. In this context, the adoption of cloud computing is pivotal, enabling greater agility and scalability for these data-driven solutions.

Equally crucial are reliable, high-quality data and an effective data management process. This supports the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Generative AI within the financial services business, which is another trend we are facing.

5. As you mentioned Artificial Intelligence. How does Mercedes-Benz Mobility plan to adopt Artificial Intelligence to expand business and customer value?

We have already been using specially developed credit analysis and decision tools based on Artificial Intelligence, namely machine learning. With those tools, we process 2 out of 3 credit applications automatically across the globe. As a result, we make this process even faster and more convenient for our customers since the credit decision is made in less than 10 seconds. In Germany, our automation level for credit decisions is close to 90%.

A recent great opportunity is Generative AI. We have been quite fast in scanning potential use cases and establishing a foundation that ensures responsible use of data in our Generative AI services. We already observed evidence in improving our software developer efficiency as well as the customer services operations and we are exploring the potential of further improving our personalised services through GenAI.

6. To successfully shape any company’s transformation, you need more than digital tools and automated processes. How do you make sure your teams keep up the pace of digitalisation and are qualified to embrace and foster the change?

Transformation without people driving and believing in it, is not transformation.

We make sure our teams embrace the change by establishing an inclusive, tech-driven culture. We enable fast decision-making processes and tech networking within the Mercedes-Benz ecosystem globally. For example, our software engineers have access to the latest technologies, space to innovate and the opportunity to create products to be scaled across different functions and markets.

Ultimately, we make learning easy. Mercedes-Benz is already investing in the qualification of the global workforce, including Mercedes-Benz Mobility, and more than 600 employees will be certified data and AI specialists. In parallel, we at Mercedes-Benz Mobility are offering upskilling trainings for more than 400 data workers globally, with personalised learning journeys for data analysts, data scientists and data engineers. As you can see, for us, putting people at the forefront is not only vital for individual growth but also instrumental in driving the company's success through digital transformation.

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