How lawyers, compliance managers, and data protection specialists at Daimler are transforming themselves

There it is again — the buzzword people always use to denote any form of change. Always! The buzzword I’m speaking of is “transformation,” and when it’s digital, the excitement really takes off: digital transformation!

However, transformation is a process (you’ve probably noticed how well I’ve internalized the Daimler vocabulary) that didn’t begin only yesterday. And this fact was illustrated by the in house format DigitalLife Day that was held for the first time for our colleagues at the executive division Integrity and Legal Affairs (IL for short). On this day, more than 400 lawyers, data protection specialists, and compliance managers came to Ludwigsburg to develop new working methods and participate in idea competitions.

And that brings me to the actual purpose of the meeting. It’s much easier to realize the fundamental importance of changes if you can break out of old structures, and if you’re given the opportunity to experience and test new things outside your familiar surroundings. That’s what the DigitalLife Day means to me, and that’s what our colleagues from this division are doing in new ways again and again.

200 new laws every day

“Companies all over the world are being impacted by increasing regulation. On average, 200 new laws are passed every day. With the help of digitalization, we can manage this flow of regulations more efficiently,” said Renata Jungo Brüngger, the Member of the Board of Management responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs, who hosted the meeting. In my opinion, this is the best description of the fundamental changes that face the world of legal tech. That includes IL, which is so important for us. For a legal layperson like me, no further explanations are necessary to sum up the complexity of this topic,

but a techie probably needs a few more explanations. What new technologies are being used, and how do they affect processes and new working methods? For me, legal tech and artificial intelligence are absolute “no-brainers,” but I didn’t know, for example, that Daimler’s Integrity and Legal Affairs division already has software solutions that can do things like assessing General Terms of Business. This increases efficiency while creating more time for specialized consulting activities.

In the beginning was the idea

During Dietmar Dahmen’s brilliant keynote speech, it became increasingly clear to me how important it is for my colleagues to gain more time for creativity. They also need to occasionally look down at their own areas from a loftier perspective, observe the division’s processes — which may have become too rigid over the years — and eventually to question them. Ideas will arise within a few seconds. However, implementing these ideas requires not only the courage to change but also, in some cases, lots of patience.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to see that an idea competition was conducted during the DigitalLife Day @IL. Five teams competed to come up with the best ideas for new services, products, and working methods. The three best ideas will be rapidly implemented. You guessed it… just give it a try! Provide your project with a budget, appoint supportive mentors, and get started. The five teams that pitched their ideas in Ludwigsburg had already gone through a global selection process. Originally about 40 teams from countries including China, India, and the U.S. had registered for the competition via the in-house innovation and crowdfunding platform.

Transformation: Nothing is permanent except change.

As we all know, yesterday is… over. History and the past cannot be rewritten, but we can help to shape the future every single day. In my opinion, this is a task that continuously expands my horizons, especially when it comes to the dynamic developments of current future-oriented topics. When I hear that our colleagues at the Integrity and Legal Affairs division had already been organized early on into swarms so that they could deal with topics such as autonomous driving and cloud services, I feel I don’t have to worry about our future at Daimler. Now we can look at these issues from a purely legal standpoint. That’s an important cornerstone of the mobility of tomorrow.

We have to leave our ivory towers, think in terms of teams, departments, and the Group as a whole, and develop innovations together. That’s how we can create solutions for the tasks of the future, which are not getting any easier — especially in a world where data are regarded as the new oil. Incidentally, that’s an expression I’m not too thrilled about, because after all, raw materials have to be processed, and that requires rules!

In this area we’ve made an important strategic decision: to create a Data Compliance Management process. In this way we are safeguarding our compliance with regulatory stipulations and our responsible handling of data. This must be our mission and our task, not only today but also in the future.

Raw data don’t tell you anything at first. But if you put the data into its appropriate context and zoom out two or three times, you will suddenly discover completely new approaches, solutions, and potential.

In my opinion, that’s exactly what the DigitalLife Day with our colleagues from Integrity and Legal Affairs was all about. As far as I know, no other legal department of a major company has staged an event of this kind so far. That’s why I’m delighted that I can support the first of hopefully many future “digital days” at, and with, the IL division.

Sascha Pallenberg took on the newly created position Head of Digital Content at Daimler’s Communications unit last February. An experienced online editor, he focuses on creating content at the interface between the automotive sector and the IT industry for Daimler online media.