Needing to modernize communication, a leading German media company moves from Slack to Mattermost to increase productivity using a private workplace messaging solution 100% under IT control. As a result of this digital transformation, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE serves its readers even more effectively.
FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE is one of Germany’s premier media houses with over 125 publications. Funke focuses on regional media as well as women’s magazines and TV guides, both in print and digital.
Recently, Funke switched from Slack to Mattermost to accelerate its digital transformation through a modern communication solution that remains fully under the control of IT.
FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE has its sights set on becoming Germany’s leading media house. Founded in 1948, the company primarily focuses on two business segments: regional media, as well as women’s magazines and TV guides and their intelligent digital interlacement. Currently, Funke employs 6,000 people and oversees the production of about 20 women’s magazines, 20 TV guides and more than 100 advertising papers—as well as numerous online publications.
Funke has had to grow and transform many times over the course of its 80 years in the media business. The German publishing house is currently transforming from traditional to digital media, making software development a core competency and focusing on delivering real-time, high-availability online services. To do this, it is critical that the efforts of journalists, technologists and general staff members are aligned.
The media world moves quickly. When stories break and news coverage needs to be coordinated, media companies are faced with the daunting task of delivering rapid reports that are accurate while protecting the sources’ confidentiality. This requires reporters and journalists to stay connected to editors, producers and other colleagues at all times. Otherwise, there’s a major risk that deadlines get missed or, worse yet, inaccurate news gets printed.
Succeeding in the fast-moving news industry starts with having access to the right communication tools. After outgrowing IBM Notes and its built-in messenger, Funke moved to Outlook, utilizing email and groupware features like calendaring, task management and scheduling.
But the company still needed messaging. Funke initially deployed Slack, a U.S.-based online messaging service for small businesses. However, Slack was only a temporary fix. With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation going into effect in 2018, IT needed to be in full control of its communications in order to keep confidential information private, ensure that sources remain anonymous and to prevent stories from leaking prior to publication.
After doing its due diligence, Funke eventually came across Mattermost, a private-cloud alternative to Slack built on an open source platform. Mattermost offers the security, configurability and scalability needed for an enterprise-grade messaging experience from any connected device. Once messages, files and images are sent through Mattermost, relevant employees can easily find and use that data—making the average Funke editorial staffer’s workflow much more efficient.
To make the switch to Mattermost, Funke partnered withbytemine, a German IT services provider. Since then, Funke hasn’t looked back.
“We chose Mattermost because we needed quick team communication without the complexity of email and we needed a self-hosted alternative to Slack,” explains Tim Estermann, a senior engineer at Funke. “We have a really big base of users who are not programmers, so we needed a solution that is easy to navigate, enables employees to use custom emojis and integrates with third-party applications.”
The days of endless email threads and people trapped in conversations they couldn’t leave were suddenly over.
Over 1,300 members of Funke’s journalism and technical staff now use Mattermost to help deliver more than 125 publications across Germany. The solution brings the right people into the right conversations with the right tools—including calendaring, help desk, issue reporting and tracking, and infrastructure monitoring—to increase organizational agility, efficiency and innovation. Funke deploys Mattermost to a private cloud under IT control, where the conversations, usage patterns and IP addresses of its staff are not shared with outside parties.
“Mattermost is now our standard communications tool and we’re looking forward to embedding it further into our daily working lives,” Estermann says.
Primarily, Mattermost—which is available in over a dozen languages, including German—serves as a communication tool that keeps Funke’s journalists and editorial staffers connected when they are scattered across Germany and other countries (e.g., Austria). The media group also uses Mattermost for a number of other activities, including:
Issue tracker integration with JIRA and Mattermost. At any given point in time, Funke’s technologists oversee at least 50 different projects. To stay on top of incident management and project management, the media company routes JIRA updates through Mattermost.
Calendar integration with Desknet and Mattermost. Funke uses Mattermost to maintain a distributed calendar for content planning and coordination. This ensures that reporters, journalists and other employees know what they’re supposed to be working on and when projects are expected to be turned in.
Infrastructure monitoring with Nagios. Funke uses Mattermost to ensure its tech infrastructure remains available. To this end, the company relies on Nagios to monitor all server infrastructure and automatically report to designated channels in Mattermost.
Rapid bug reporting with Mattermost messaging. Tools aren’t helpful when they’re not working as designed. Whenever an employee finds a bug in a software package deployed across Funke, that person can use Mattermost to inform the right technicians with screenshots, video, file attachments and formatted text, including monospace.
Help desk. Not all of Funke’s employees are “tech wizards”. Mattermost also serves as a support channel for users who need help figuring things out.
Thanks to Mattermost’s secure real-time communications capabilities, Funke is even further along on its journey of digital transformation. Initially, the publishing house moved 400 employees to Mattermost so they could coordinate production and assignments digitally. After the switch proved successful, Funke moved an additional 900 users to Mattermost—including entire newspaper staffs and technical departments.
Mattermost has already provided Funke with measurable benefits: more efficiency, improved collaboration on story development and increased employee engagement, to name a few. But the media company plans to leverage the platform even further in the future.
Moving forward, the media company plans to integrate Mattermost with even more tools it relies on, including Cisco Jabber for video conferencing.
“For the future, we are really looking forward to integrating our existing video conferencing system. We also are anticipating deeper integrations with our infrastructure and applications,” says Estermann.
Thanks to Mattermost, Funke is now able to serve better content to its readers and deliver more potential customers to its advertisers—a win-win scenario.
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About FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE
FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE is on its way to become Germany’s prime media house and focuses on two business segments: regional media, as well as women’s magazines and TV guides and their intelligent digital interlacement. The portfolio covers regional newspapers (e.g., Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Hamburger Abendblatt, Berliner Morgenpost), advertising papers, women’s magazines and TV guides (e.g., HÖRZU, TVdigital, BILD der FRAU, Frau im Spiegel) and numerous regional websites.
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