Globalization, digitalization, artificial intelligence. Terms that in part still raise questions. Dirk Nees is senior manager of the Digital Transformation Office HR at Daimler and explains why digitalization is a huge opportunity and what a "digital transformer" actually does.
Hello Mr. Nees, please introduce yourself briefly.
Nees: Hello, I am 48 years old and was born in Idar-Oberstein in Germany. My job involves digital transformation within HR. Specifically, that means that I support the human resources department to become even more digital. I studied business administration and business education and have worked for the Group for almost 16 years. In my free time, I like working on and driving classic cars and basically anything that has wheels – especially racing or mountain biking helps me to relax.
What tasks have you been responsible for at Daimler so far?
I've done a lot in the area of training and change management. I joined the finance department in 2003 where I was the team leader building up the Finance Academy. In 2006, I switched to the Corporate Academy as head of department, and since November 2017 I've been responsible for the digital transformation of HR.
Why did you choose Daimler as your employer?
For me, being able to identify with the company that I work for is enormously important. Daimler offers great products, is globally successful, and has lots of terrific brands. That really motivates me and it's fun to work for this global Group. In addition, the development opportunities are almost endless - it's like having your own job market.
"Digital transformation" – what exactly does this involve?
My job is to support departments and colleagues in performing their tasks more effectively with the help of digital concepts and technologies. The first step, of course, is to get people to even engage with the topic. Here we rely on communication and dialogue formats such as workshops and lectures, which we design and lead ourselves. In addition, I also deal with innovation processes and design process models, for example for the introduction of new technologies.
Why is digitalization so important?
Digitalization is both an opportunity and an enabler. It offers unimagined new business opportunities and is therefore an important success factor for many companies. Digitalization is, however, also a means of keeping up with the unbelievably fast-growing dynamism and complexity in the world – be that through the automation of processes or the use of artificial intelligence. I don't think we can survive in the global world without digitization. That's why we as HR support other areas and at the same time drive the digitization of our own processes.
Successfully implementing innovations, how does that work?
It is crucial to operate the innovation processes professionally and systematically, to use suitable methods and to consistently advance the implementation. The prerequisite for this is good trend scouting, the willingness to try out something new and to precisely define the goal and purpose in advance. We often work together with start-ups to get inspired. We are also experimenting with digital concepts like blockchain or various AI solutions and are testing how we can best make use of them. Innovation is only possible with the right expertise. That is why we invest a lot of time in skills management in cooperation with the Daimler Corporate Academy and build digital networks to simplify the exchange between colleagues.
Is digitalization also affecting job profiles?
Absolutely. Of course, not every employee will need to be able to program in the future, but a basic understanding of digitalization will be essential. It is comparable with preparing for a new goal in sports, such as a marathon. You must embark on the mission, pay attention to your nutrition, and train. The same applies to the world of work: In order to make the potential of digitalization usable, I need to know how technologies fundamentally work and should have an idea of how digital concepts can be implemented. Above all, it's about the willingness and the courage to try something new, to sometimes make mistakes, and to learn from them. That is the only way change is possible. Digitalization is therefore changing our job profiles, too, as new skills and content are added.
What profiles are increasingly sought after in your unit?
From my perspective, in the future we will above all need people with a digital profile. By that I mean candidates who are well acquainted with the digital world. They need to have an innovation mindset and be able to work with agile methods. A willingness to change, the ability to learn, and co-creation are other important aspects. Basically, it has never been simpler to learn than today. So don't be shy, be bold!