Christin Kreutzburg-Sütterlin has a good idea of how we will be moving around in future. Together with her colleagues from the Society & Mobility PIONEERING team, Ms Kreutzburg-Sütterlin, who holds a PhD in Psychology, is responsible for researching trends and visions for future mobility. She is currently involved in the “Future Living® Berlin” beacon project, looking at what is important to residents in an interconnected neighborhood in terms of living and mobility. In her interview with us, the native of Potsdam explains how mobility concepts of the future are drawn up by Daimler based on the needs of customers, along with the things that she really enjoys about her work.
Hi Christin! Your team is responsible for coming up with visions for future mobility. How do you approach this?
Most of the time, we will start off with detailed research. We will have a look at the trends and solutions that are in place outside of the mobility sector. In addition, we also talk to experts to discuss the extent to which new technologies such as AI are establishing themselves and use this to derive possible applications for vehicles. Furthermore, we obtain specific research questions from our colleagues in development. An example of this would be how sustainability and luxury can be combined in the best possible way.
How do you find answers to these questions?
We can do this, for instance, by asking our potential customers directly what they regard to be important in terms of sustainability, and what barriers they consider there to be. The outcome of these “focus groups” is always the fact that Daimler products are regarded as safe and reliable, and that customers have expectations to match. In addition to these surveys in the short term, we are also focused on long-term research projects such as “Future Living® Berlin”
This beacon project is an entire residential district that features cutting-edge digital technology.
It’s just like that. This urban district in Berlin Adlershof is its own little universe. The 90 apartments and ten commercial units feature solutions from our project partners originating from all kinds of sectors; from smart heating and air conditioning systems to smart lighting. As the partner for mobility, we provide residents with e-vehicles made by Daimler, which they can book in a flexible way using the "ready-to-share"-service.
Future users are involved in the development of new mobility concepts right from the very first idea, allowing us to take this “human centered approach” to a new level.
How do you specifically work with people who live in this residential complex?
Once the district is officially opened in September 2020, we will then be in regular contact with residents at different levels. This will involve regular surveys on the one hand, along with joint workshops on the other hand, where we will discuss suggestions, requests and experiences. Another level involves usage data, which are collected anonymously, including when participants make use of our vehicles and the systems created by our project partners.
So are the residents providing stimuli that flow directly into the development process?
Yes, that's exactly it! We are in principle able to cover all three aspects of Daimler PIONEERING with this project. During the first “Ignite” phase, we work together with the residents to come up with ideas. The second “Invent” stage involves our experts developing specific products that the residents will then test and, in doing so, contribute to improving them. In the best case scenario, the new technologies are used in our vehicles in the third “Implement” phase. The concept of putting customers at the heart of development is generally regarded to be of primary importance for Daimler.
You worked previous in the Customer Research team before switching to the Society & Mobility PIONEERING team.
You're right, although the scope of Customer Research activities at Daimler goes far beyond traditional market research and is unique within the industry. The team is already collaborating with the development at a very early stage and is responsible for testing new components directly with potential customers. By integrating future users of Future Living® Berlin into our development process right from the very first idea, we are also able to take this “human centered innovation” approach to a whole new level.
I’m always excited in my work to see which thoughts and ideas my colleagues are able to implement from the development stage into vehicles.
Customer focus is something you have been tasked with since you started at Daimler. How did you actually end up joining the company back then?
Back in 1999, I started off as a PhD student in the Customer Research Center. I completed my PhD in Work and Organizational Psychology at Freie Universität Berlin. The issue I dealt with was how different customer groups can be targeted with advertising. I was able to look at the subject in even greater detail as part of my subsequent activities in the Customer Research Center.
You've been part of the “Society & Mobility PIONEERING” team since 2018. What do you find intriguing about your work?
What I find special is the fact that we go far beyond the vehicle itself when drafting our future concepts. The “Social and Mobility Research” department is led by the futurologist Prof. Dr. Marianne Reeb, who is an absolute expert and vastly experienced. One particular vision we have all worked on together is the fact that living spaces and vehicles merge together to form an “eco-system”, which I think is really exciting and fascinating.
I’m always excited in my work to see which thoughts and ideas my colleagues are able to implement from the development stage into the vehicle itself. This aspiration and enthusiasm for mobility have long been really special at Daimler.
And what do you get up to when you are not involved in future mobility?
My husband and I are both avid ice hockey fans. So, during the winter months, we are regular attendees to home games held at EHC-Freiburg’s stadium. There’s nothing better than being part of the crowd cheering our “Wolves” on.
The Customer Research team at Daimler is already collaborating with the development at a very early stage. This ensures the needs of users are at the heart of the process right from the outset.
Christin Kreutzburg-Sütterlin (47)
Christin Kreutzburg-Sütterlin gained her enthusiasm for cars from her father. The native of Potsdam secretly got behind the wheel of the family's Trabant for the first time at the age of 14. Later on, she focused on car buyers for her doctorate, working in collaboration with the Customer Research team at Daimler. The mother of a 13-year-old daughter originally wanted to be a teacher and had already completed her teacher training. However, when she was teaching she quickly noticed that she was too empathetic to assess her pupils rigorously. Nowadays, she is able to display her empathy in full when working together with customers to discover innovations for future mobility for Daimler.