At first glance, tradition and innovation aren’t values you’d expect to go hand in hand. But Mast-Jägermeister SE, the maker of the world’s best-selling premium liqueur, Jägermeister, has completed a cultural and digital transformation without compromising its roots-or its recipe, which is over 80 years old.
Digitization is a challenge many midsize German companies face. The digital world has become a borderless place that more and more people use to communicate, work, shop and play each day.
Jägermeister is a household name, but its leaders knew the company needed to become faster, more open and more transparent to stay on top. When collaborating in email inboxes hindered internal communication, the company turned to Slack, the secure channel-based messaging platform, for a better way to work. Now, collaborating across countries, teams and subsidiaries has never been easier.
“Employees have new needs; they want more freedom to choose where they work. It’s more important that our employees are meeting their milestones than where they work from. Since we rolled Slack out across all devices, we’re not bound to one place anymore.”
Meeting the most stringent global security standards
Jägermeister was already on an upward trajectory before adopting Slack. The company had doubled its headcount, going from 500 to almost 1,000 employees in just a few years. With this growth came new locations and subsidiaries, and Slack became the obvious choice to connect departments, locations and subsidiaries while driving the company’s cultural transformation.
“We discovered that many departments were working for themselves and that we needed to improve our communication to avoid duplicating work,” says Andrea Ostheer, the corporate communications manager at Mast-Jägermeister SE. “We found the perfect solution in Slack.”
Matthias Schirmag, Mast-Jägermeister SE’s head of global IT network and communication, wanted a software solution that would simplify workflows and processes rather than making them even more complicated. “I had been a fan of Slack for years,” he says. “However, I initially had a different solution in mind, because I was approaching the problem from a corporate perspective, and we had already partially invested in other solution platforms.”
In the world of IT, cost is only one factor. Schirmag also had to consider market penetration, interfaces and the range of features. Security was paramount: Maintaining data security through data protection is a fundamental issue in Germany. The more Schirmag explored, the more it became clear that Slack was the best solution.
Slack’s data residency feature was an important factor in getting legal approval. This feature allows Slack’s customers to specify precisely which region the data from their workspace is stored in. “That’s just expected in Germany these days,” Schirmag says.
What’s more, Slack enables closed, private communication among leadership. “We really want to communicate transparently when possible,” says Schirmag, “but certain divisions, such as management, the works council or the HR department, have other requirements we also have to meet, Slack is a good fit for all these requirements.”
"We can use our pre-existing authentication standards for single sign-on with Slack. Not only is that convenient for the IT department, it also makes it very user-friendly for employees, which is essential for introducing a new tool."
Using flexible and future-proof best-of-breed platforms
Choosing a best-of-breed solution, like Slack, was also key for Schirmag’s team. Best-of-breed means selecting the best tools for the task at hand rather than adopting a suite of software from one vendor. “If you use multiple critical applications from one provider, multiple systems can be affected by one failure,” Schirmag says. “With Slack, that risk is much more diversified.”
For Alexander Turk, the team leader of operations and IT at Mast-Jägermeister Deutschland GmbH, another important factor in choosing Slack was interoperability, the ability to work with other products or systems directly in Slack. “It’s not a closed system, but rather an open platform with its own ecosystem,” he says.
“Slack not only gives us integration options with the corresponding interfaces but also makes it easy for us to use existing integrations. Because you never know what you’ll need down the road, Slack is also future-proof.”
Rolling out Slack was shockingly simple for Mast-Jägermeister SE
Implementing and rolling out a new system is often an arduous process for IT managers. But even Schirmag was surprised by how painless it was to introduce Slack across Jägermeister’s teams. That’s because they were able to continue using the same interfaces and standards, like SAML 2.0 and single sign-on.
Even the mobile rollout of pre-configured apps via Enterprise Mobility Management worked without a hitch, allowing IT to ensure that Slack was properly configured on each mobile device and connected to company resources.
“As team leader, I have to authorize credit notes,” Turk says. “Before, I used to get a folder full of documents that I had to sign. If I had several appointments in a row, it could take a while before I was able to sign off on them. These days, I use a Slack workflow for this, and I can give approvals easily on my smartphone without being at work.”
“Anyone can use Slack on the device of their choice, because it doesn’t just run on your workstation in the office.”
Taking external collaboration to the next level with Slack Connect
Jägermeister’s digital transformation included finding a better way to collaborate with external partners. That solution was Slack Connect, a more secure and productive way for organizations to communicate together.
Kai Seidel, a digital marketing manager at Mast-Jägermeister Deutschland GmbH, says Slack Connect has been particularly beneficial for planning joint marketing. It allows all the people involved in a project to work together in a single place.
“When you think about how many components a marketing campaign consists of today, you see that they simply cannot be put together efficiently via email,” Seidel says. “Before, everything went through the project manager, who then spread the information throughout the organization. Today we can simply bring the respective experts into the channel and communicate with them directly. It makes no difference whether the experts are internal or external.”
Now everyone involved with a particular campaign knows the current status. If someone is ill or on vacation, it’s easy to pass the baton to another coworker.
The IT department is also making the most of Slack Connect. “Last year we implemented Salesforce and used Slack as a hub,” Turk says. “The entire process only took around half a year. We had to change programmers several times during that period, but all our decisions were always traceable and transparent, even retroactively, so we didn’t suddenly have to start all over again.”
“I now get feedback from service providers far more quickly with Slack Connect. Collaboration is more direct and transparent, and ultimately faster.”
Boosting transparency with secure channel-based messaging
For Mast-Jägermeister SE, the introduction of Slack was an important step toward solving a challenge many companies face: driving a corporate culture’s digital transformation. With Slack, innovation complements tradition, and teams are taking collaboration to a whole new level.