DigitalLife Day 2018: Experiencing the future at Daimler!

Every year, we — the small communications team of DigitalLife — once again face the exciting challenge of organizing a unique event around the theme of digital transformation. And every year we set our benchmark a bit higher so that we can meet our colleagues’ demands and our own standards as well.

But in spite of all the changes and improvements we make, the core content of the event always remains the same: also the DigitalLife Day 2018 is all about inspiration, information, and innovation related to digitalization at Daimler.

Our focus areas for DigitalLife Day 2018 were artificial intelligence, data, and new partnerships!

This year, as always, DigitalLife Day focused on specific themes that represent the most important digitalization trends in our sector. The ever-present technological theme of artificial intelligence is still highly relevant for our daily work, for new business models of Daimler AG, and for our customers all over the world.

But what good is artificial intelligence if we don’t connect it with the data it needs to work with? This data is already being produced all over the world in unimaginable quantities. The responsible use of data also plays an important role for our vehicles and mobility-related services.

The third focus area is a response to the speed with which technological change is happening today. This speed offers us the opportunity to improve our products and services even faster and more comprehensively. In order to optimally exploit this potential, we need strong partners who help us reach our goals.

They include major companies that contribute decades of experience and expertise, as well as young startups and employee ideas that stand out because of their new approaches and rapid implementation.

Inspiration

This year’s DigitalLife Day featured speakers from Daimler and also from outside the company. The in-house speakers once again included Mr. Zetsche and many other representatives of the top management of a wide variety of units at Daimler AG. Our guest speakers from outside the company included Michel van der Bel (Microsoft), Edzard Overbeek (HERE), and Clare Jones (What3Words).

The presentations by Sebastian Steudtner (wemakewaves) and Mounira Latrache (Connected Business), which dealt with “big wave surfing” and “mindfulness” respectively, offered the participants a whole new perspective on digitalization.

Their audience consisted of 1,000 Daimler employees who had been randomly selected from all the applicants. Hosting the day’s events on the main stage was Amiaz Habtu, the popular host of the entrepreneur show “Die Höhle der Löwen” (The Lions’ Den) on the VOX channel.

Information

At 30 cross-divisional market stands, our colleagues presented the latest themes of digital transformation and initiatives at Daimler AG. Teams from China, India, and the USA were also represented. This year for the first time, external partners and startups had also been invited to present their projects at this Daimler event and thus expand our perspective on digitalization.

At ten additional market stands in a dedicated area, the DigitalLife Day participants could gather information about our partner companies’ digitalization projects. The companies represented included Microsoft, Intel, HERE, What3Words, Anagog and Autogravity. There were also presentations of employee ideas such as “Charging Hero” from China and the „Pactris“ project.

Innovation

As in previous years, another highlight of the day was the presentation of idea pitches by ten employee teams. The exciting and very innovative ideas that were presented had previously been developed in response to specific questions on our DigitalLife Open Spaces platform.

The three winning teams succeeded in convincing the high-caliber jury, as well as the thousand participants in the audience, of the excellence of their ideas within only three minutes. They were rewarded with financial support for the further implementation of their respective ideas. Mr. Zetsche enjoyed the opportunity to personally present them with a “check” for €50,000.

Art meets DigitalLife Day

The overall concept of this year’s DigitalLife Day was symbolized by the city as a “nerve center of digitalization.” The artist Robin Treier was responsible for creating the corresponding artistic and visual design. This is how he described his approach: “Every individual thought requires at least one moment of wondering and questioning. Art gives us access to thoughts that go deeper and open up an additional perspective on the central theme.”

In line with this motto, he arranged and structured the surfaces of our key visual, the 30-meter-wide skyline, the market stands, and the stages, extensively using the techniques of collage and décollage and adding large-scale quotations of visionary thinkers from the area of media theory.

Unique: The Mercedes-Benz “A(rt)-Class”

The outstanding artistic highlight of the day was the live design session focusing on one of our top products, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. This activity involved innovation and the creation of something new by means of a completely novel process.

The participants could express their own artistic creativity by drawing on huge touchscreen monitors and then immediately printing the results. These large-format printouts were then directly used by Robin Treier to create the collage of the A-Class. That’s how the creativity of all the participants became a fixed component of the unique “A(rt)-Class.” In this process, art and technology enrich one another — two forms of innovation combined in a single work of art.

Sustainability

Digitalization and sustainability go hand in hand. We wanted to organize an event that focuses on future-oriented digital topics and to do our utmost to ensure that coming generations also have wide-ranging opportunities in the future we envision.

Consequently, almost all of the resources and materials we used on site were recyclable or biodegradable. The design elements made of plastic can be completely recycled. For example, some of them can be reused to create teamwear for the next event.

The meals available at the food trucks were exclusively prepared from organic and locally produced ingredients and were served on 100% compostable dried palm leaves. Some of the design elements of the DigitalLife Day were already reused one week later at the Tech Open Air (TOA, #daimlerattoa) event in Berlin.

A thousand employees, 40 speakers, 30 in-house market stands, ten pitches, five startups, three partner companies, one day:

That was DigitalLife Day 2018! It was a day with so much interesting content and food for thought that many participants wished for more time so that they could see absolutely everything!

People often ask me what I myself liked best about DigitalLife Day 2018. There were so many content-related highlights that I can’t really decide among them, but one thing that has stayed in my memory is a sentence spoken by Dieter Zetsche to sum up the day and all the impressions associated with it: “You can’t find colleagues like these anywhere else!”

Check out the video for more impressions:


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Joël Bayard joined Daimler AG through the CAReer program. He has worked on the Internal Communications team in the Digitallife@Daimler unit since the beginning of 2017. There he is responsible for various change-related digitalization themes, including Fail’n’learn Nights, the DigitalLife Bus Tour, and DigitalLife Day 2018.

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