In 2013, Mathias Dopfner, CEO of the publishing house Axel Springer SE, a premier source of content in Germany, with its popular newspapers and magazines such as Bild and Die Welt, was evaluating the progress of his company’s digital transformation. The advent of the digital revolution at the end of the twentieth century had caused an appreciable shift in the publishing industry. Traditional print media players were confronted with major technological advancements and changes in consumer tastes and how news was consumed.
AXEL SPRINGER CASE
Case Assignment Analysis Questions:
1. How would you evaluate Mathias Döpfner’s strategic leadership in the face of the digital revolution? What key strategic actions did he take and how were they different from how most other publishers approached the situation? How successful is the company’s digital transformation as it stands in 2014?
2. What did Kai Diekmann, Peter Würtenberger, and Martin Sinner learn from their 10 months in Silicon Valley and how did they incorporate these lessons into Axel Springer’s transformation? Moreover, what signals did their trip send to the organization?
3. What are the strategic challenges that Axel Springer faces in the next three to five years and how should they be addressed? In particular, what should be Axel Springer’s global strategy? How should Döpfner navigate the dynamics between his firm’s local (e.g., classifieds) and international (e.g., advertising) interests?
4. Beyond 2014, who is best positioned to take advantage of the evolving digital landscape: the old media content experts or the new media technology experts? Why? How can Axel Springer effectively fight against Google and other firms that may negatively impact the “Fair Search and Fair Share” environment referenced in the case?
5. If you were Mathias Döpfner, what would you like the digitally transformed publishing industry to look like in 2020? How would you want to strategically position Axel Springer in that transformed industry, and what would be the distinctive competencies necessary to occupy, defend, and leverage that desired strategic position? In particular, what would be the role of the company’s Silicon Valley outpost to support a winning corporate strategy?
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