Tell us a little about yourself. What is your core expertise?
The majority of my professional experience was gained working in the global automotive industry. Working across different international markets – in Europe and Asia – has given me profound cultural and business insights and a broad perspective that I bring into my work every day. I am always open to new things and super curious – especially when it comes to the development of new technologies.
In 2016, I took on the responsibility for the digitisation of sales, marketing, and after-sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars worldwide at Mercedes-Benz AG. Together with my global team, I concentrate on defining the digital experience for our customers. I would say, in this respect, my core focus is on promoting digitisation and always identifying and creating a space for digital innovation.
What – in your opinion – is the main problem with the current data economy?
We all know that data drives the digital economy. Within the society, the biggest challenge is to make sure that we protect people’s data, respecting everyone’s right to control their own data. The user needs to be in the driver’s seat by clearly deciding which organisations and businesses are allowed to use their data and for what purpose. In this context, we also have to create awareness in society about the amount of data that is generated every single second by all of us.
What we have observed is that users have contradictory behaviour. On one hand, they increasingly want to protect themselves from data misuse and excessive disclosure. On the other hand, users are often unaware and not critical enough when it comes to dealing with their own data. We have the responsibility to do both – inform them and be transparent about the usage of data in our products and services. And ultimately, we need to give users the power to decide for themselves if, when, and how they want to share their data.
What motivates you to help solve this problem? Did anything in particular trigger your interest?
Handling data responsibly is definitely a topic that is close to my heart, both privately and professionally. Therefore, together with my global team and business partners from the Marketing and Sales area, we are constantly working on new possibilities, digital products, and services for our customers to increase transparency and ensure that handling one’s own data is as easy and convenient as possible. We, the Mercedes-Benz Group AG, have defined our so-called Mercedes-Benz data vision as our standard in handling data sustainably, responsibly, and ethically. Large quantities of data are the basis for many new business models and will continue to play a decisive role in the future. This makes it even more important to put the control of data where it belongs: Into the hands of users.
What is the best way to motivate everyday people to join the movement for a fair data economy?
Firstly, by highlighting that a truly fair data economy with digital self-control, or individual data control, is a tremendous opportunity for Europe. It’s a topic that has relevance for every single citizen. Secondly, there is a lot of space for organisations to develop a creative framework. To give you an example: Last year we launched the Mercedes me Privacy Center, where our customers can view their personal data usage and customise it according to their preferences. The Mercedes me Privacy Center bundles these decisions and displays them conveniently in one place. In addition, our customers can give or withdraw approval for data processing with just a few clicks. How simple and transparent is that?!
People must understand that they will benefit when organisations clearly commit to using data responsibly. The guiding principles of transparency, choice, and data security are crucial to us at Mercedes-Benz Group AG.
How did you become aware of polypoly? And why do you think polypoly is part of the solution?
I had the pleasure to meet Thorsten Dittmar, and he introduced me to the vision and concept of polypoly. As the importance of data continues to grow, it is necessary to rethink the current data economy – and that is exactly what polypoly does. I am more than happy to support and advise this great organisation with my expertise and experience in sustainable data management.
This brings me to another topic that concerns all of us: sustainability. We all will have to reduce the enormous amount of CO2-emissions that are generated from data handling. It is crucial that IT, as one of the core business functions, becomes “greener”. polypoly is currently working on these topics, and I am looking forward to seeing what ideas will be developed in the future.
Each of our advisors has a particular skillset. Given your expertise, how would you advise polypoly to move forward?
Build a strong network and partnerships based on trust in the political, economic, and science industries. And, never stop communicating! It’s key to explain why it’s worth fighting for a data economy that’s fair, transparent, and green.