As a Lead Data Scientist, Pascal Ruck and his colleagues see to it that online marketing is tailored even better to customers' specific needs. His team's innovative solutions ensure that car buyers receive even better advice on the configuration of their next new car on-site at the dealership, for example. In his interview, the data scientist tells us how he turned the work of his team on its head as its youngest member, and why precision will be more important in the future when it comes to communication with customers.
Mr. Ruck, you analyze data in order to personally tailor Mercedes-Benz marketing to the customers. Why is this personalization important?
Our main goal is to give our customers the exact information they want. We all know what it's like to switch on your smartphone and see three or four marketing emails that don't interest us at all. This is annoying. But at Mercedes-Benz we are taking a different approach. Marketing must be as tailored and as personal as a visit to the dealership.
How do you work?
Our team works very closely with Marketing. We want to find solutions to specific problems with our colleagues: In one current project, for example, we are optimizing the vehicle configurator, which is used by customer service representatives on a tablet at the dealership when talking to customers. We offer extensive possibilities for configuring the features of our vehicles. That is why working with the customer to put together the perfect vehicle could take some time. We looked for and found a way to make the vehicle configuration even easier and faster for our customers at the dealerships. A new function means that the vehicle configurator now gives personalized recommendations that are tailored precisely to the customer's needs.
What do you like about data analytics?
I originally studied Business and Economics and very quickly realized how important the analysis of customer data will be in the future. That is why I learned a lot about analytics and programming. I especially like creating something new as part of my work again and again, using the latest methods. I often work closely with several coworkers, and we program, sketch ideas and draft concepts together. A lot of what we do has never been done before, and there is a lot of leeway for introducing creative ideas. Of course, this is also a challenge. We need to keep on the ball if we are to be able to implement challenging projects and apply new methods and technologies such as artificial intelligence. This includes life-long learning and reading scientific articles in industry journals. The Mercedes-Benz Group of course also offers many training opportunities.
We provide information to customers exactly when they ask for it. This allows us to offer our customers substantial value added and a consistent customer experience.
What do you consider to be special about the work atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz?
First, there is the diversity, in terms of both culture and at the specialist level. I always find it particularly enriching to work with colleagues with a technical, business or scientific background. I also value the openness of the work culture. At Mercedes-Benz, everyone can contribute their ideas and suggestions.
One of your suggestions was to use Scrum working methods in your team. How did that come about?
I joined former Daimler AG in 2017 right after completing my Master's degree. At the time, the team was working on the basis of the classic "cascade model". This meant that everything was planned in full detail at the start of a project before the start of the implementation, when each person worked on their task for a specified period and delivered their output. However, the end result did not always match the respective vision one hundred percent…
… so your team started looking for a solution?
Exactly. We discussed how we could change the way we work. I had already dealt with agile work and the Scrum method during a previous training and proposed launching a pilot trial. My manager backed the idea and my colleagues also supported me from the start. Furthermore, a new project that was about to be launched.
Life-long learning is simply a part of data science. Mercedes-Benz offers corresponding training for this.
That was the perfect opportunity.
Yes. Our entire way of working changed overnight. With Scrum, we work in sprints toward the next interim goal. Our colleagues from another team that we work closely with cleared a dedicated space in their office for the project. This gives us a base where can discuss the further approach with all participants each morning. The close coordination gives us a lot of flexibility for our projects. It also gives rise to a form of "swarm intelligence" since everyone can contribute their ideas to various different sub-projects. This enables us to achieve a high level of quality. We also work more efficiently and this has paid off quickly.
And what do you do on the rare occasions when you are not dealing with data?
Then I like to swap my computer keyboard for my guitar (laughs). Music is the best remedy after a hard day at work.
Scrum enables everyone to contribute their ideas to sub-projects, so that we achieve even better results while also working more efficiently.
Personal details: Pascal Ruck (26) Pascal Ruck was introduced to software development in the third semester of his business studies in Tübingen. Since then, programming has been an obsession for him. In addition to "Scala" and "R", the data scientist is a particular fan of the "Python" programming language and as a professional is proud to refer to himself as a "Pythonista". However, Pascal Ruck also uses his programming skills privately, and not just to tailor marketing better to customers' needs. So that he and his girlfriend always know where to find their favorite curry, he programmed an app that provides a recommendation based on the daily menus of the Indian restaurants in the area.