MBition GmbH in Berlin (Germany)


#thisisdaimler: MBition Berlin

This article was originally published in the Daimler blog.

How much code is inside a Mercedes-Benz vehicle? In 2010 a Mercedes contained about 10 million lines of software. Today that figure is already far more than 150 million[1]. In the automobile sector, the software is becoming increasingly complex. At the same time, the rapid development of smartphones has caused customer expectations to grow dramatically when it comes to the digital services inside vehicles. At the MBition unit, we’re dealing with exactly this issue so that in the future the best digital products will still be found in vehicles from Mercedes-Benz.

5 min reading time

by Gregor Zetsche, CEO MBition
published on September 02, 2019

I have a degree in mechanical engineering, but sometimes I wish I had prepared myself better for this transformation and studied computer science instead. Fortunately, at the beginning of my career at Daimler I had the opportunity to acquire experience regarding software development as a member of the Eco meter team. By occupying positions at Daimler’s R&D locations in Japan and the USA, I was able to widen my horizon by conducting tests on telematics systems and developing UI/UX concepts. I learned about agile methods and much more from the brilliant developers at these locations. For MBition I’ve been responsible as its CEO since the beginning of March.

Why was MBition founded in the first place?

Today the requirements of our customers are changing much faster than they were just a few years ago. Of course we want our Mercedes-Benz vehicles to continue to thrill customers through their outstanding safety, high degree of reliability, and an unique driving experience — but our customers also expect to have the fruits of digital progress on board with them.

In China today, infotainment systems are actually the main factor customers consider when they’re deciding whether or not to buy a certain car. This trend will soon gain ground in the USA and Europe as well. Customer wishes, business models, and working methods are changing by leaps and bounds, and as a result services and features are moving into the forefront. The major software companies in Silicon Valley are taking advantage of this transformation to establish themselves as new competitors in the automobile sector.

In other words, customers now expect from our Mercedes-Benz vehicles what they have become accustomed to on their smartphones — the latest technical features and apps, user-friendly control, and a technologically mature and secure operating system.

Our main goal is to bring software development know-how into the Daimler Group. In order to reach this goal, we are counting on four different pillars: products, operations, and embedded as well as offboard engineering. At MBition we are building up a kind of software factory that will enable us to quickly develop high-quality software “like on an assembly line.”

In our struggle to reach our ambitious goals, our employees are our most important factor. They come from all over the world; no less than 42 nations are represented by our 200 colleagues. For example, one of our colleagues moved from South Korea to Berlin with his family two months ago on account of his job. Colleagues like these bring in new perspectives, their own culture, and a wide range of experiences. I’m especially fascinated by my MBition colleagues’ strong desire to make a difference.

They’ve got a pioneering spirit, they’re curious, and they come from a wide spectrum of sectors, such as the computer game industry. Flat hierarchies, a strong sense of individual responsibility, and a friendly working atmosphere enable our colleagues to fully develop their potential and to support Daimler AG as it moves toward becoming a software company.

Empowerment and agility are important values for us. At MBition we have Feature Teams, which consist of a Product Owner[2], a Scrum Master[3] and a Developer Team[4], all of whom are individually responsible for their product. This means that the decisions about the development of a product are not made by the supervisor — they are made by the developers who are working on the product. At the same time, at MBition we place great value on code quality[5]. As a result, we ensure greater comprehensibility of the code as well as its maintainability, expandability, and exchangeability — so that we can continue to deliver state-of-the-art products even after five years.

Agile working methods such as regular retrospective meetings create space to openly discuss difficult issues within the team and cooperatively develop optimization measures. In parallel, these activities improve cooperation within the team and reinforce team spirit. At MBition, what counts is our colleagues’ motivation to forge ahead with new ideas and innovations — no matter what their individual position or title might be.

In addition, we offer training sessions, workshops, and shared events such as our “Happy Thursday” after-work event that offer our colleagues the opportunity to share ideas at any time and create a pleasant and collegial working atmosphere.

In short, we combine the flexibility of a start-up with the opportunities and clout of a global company. In this manner we are currently working on the next generation of our infotainment system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), for example. I’m sure it will knock your socks off!

[1] McKinsey 2018 “Rethinking car software and electronics architecture”: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/rethinking-car-software-and-electronics-architecture [22.05.2019]

[2] The product owner (PO) of a scrum team is responsible for fulfilling the requirements regarding a product or a product’s function in a way that maximizes its utility.

[3] A scrum master makes sure that the team can work as effectively and with as few impediments as possible. He or she serves as a mediator who supports the group dynamics of the team.

[4] The developers are responsible for the technical implementation that fulfills the requirements named above. Their work is self-organized and cross-functional.

[5] Code quality means that the software code can be maintained, updated, and expanded. The programs should be readable, consistent, understandable, and analyzable.

Gregor Zetsche

Gregor Zetsche is the CEO of MBition Berlin since March 2019.

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