Case studies in the graphics and media sector
These five case studies illustrate from a company perspective to what extent information and communication technologies (ICT) are penetrating the graphics and media sector. They show how five European companies of different sizes and positions in the value chain are coping with the positive and negative effects of change. One common characteristic of the five case study firms - Gopher, Daydream, Sportnews, BBC and Børsen - is that they have all been early adopters of ICT in their processes and products.
In recent years, the globalisation and specialisation of markets has led to intensive industrial change, fuelled by technological innovations. As each case study demonstrates, industrial change is a complex, dual process for the graphics and media sector. On the one hand, industrial change creates an increasingly competitive environment and therefore demands continuous improvement of work processes and deployment of human resources and technology to obtain a better market position (optimisation measures). On the other hand, industrial change also necessitates proactive and innovative measures in order to find new market avenues for existing media firms.
Case study themes and topics
The analytical framework for the case studies focussed on the following key questions:
- How and for what purposes is ICT deployed and how does it affect work organisation practices?
- How are the market and market changes perceived and how is that reflected in product and process innovation?
- To what degree does ICT affect changes in ownership and business models including business alliances and networks?
- As ICT is having an effect on jobs and blurring traditional job profiles, how are employees being prepared to deal with that change?
- What steps are firms taking towards stronger functional flexibility, to what degree are employees involved in the process, and what types of changes are taking place in traditional labour relationships?
Interviews were conducted with both managers and employees (except for the BBC case, which only involved management) to get a broader perspective on how ICT is perceived as a driver of change and to see to what degree employees have been actively involved in and are prepared for change, through skills development and through work organisation practices.
A semi-structured analytical framework was prepared as a basis for the interviews and this was sent to the firms in advance of the interviews (see the Annexes to each case study).
The case study firms
Both the traditional media firms (the BBC and Børsen) and those firms which have grown out of a converging sector are exploring a range of avenues to position themselves in a changing and uncertain market. Convergence is understood as 'the union of print audio, video, and data communications into a single source, receivable on a single device delivered by a single wireless or wireline connection with a profound effect on the whole value chain in terms of skills, organisational structures and business models' (KPMG Canada).
All five case studies can be downloaded individually as pdf files by clicking on the company names below.
Gopher Publishers is a Dutch SME publisher specialising in publishing platforms for small batch publishing and printing on demand. Gopher has created a strong niche position through specialisation, delivering solutions to the traditional publishing industry.
Daydream Software, a Swedish SME digital game producer, exemplifies how businesses that grew out of a creative exploitation of media convergence have also had to optimise production processes and to specialise in order to deal with increasingly larger and more complex productions. One of the strongest sources of innovation and competence base renewal arises from the fact of their co-location with Ericsson.
Sportnews Internet Services, a Greek provider of sport news in digital formats, exploited the options resulting from being first mover in a local market and had a quick growth rate when the Internet economy was at its peak. Sportnews was then confronted with the economic turndown after the burst of the first Internet optimism. The combination of the slow development of potential new markets for mobile services and digital TV has placed them in a difficult position, although they are still in a position to exploit a small but local market.
The BBC case provides a good example of how a public service provider is using their public service status proactively to explore new business opportunities derived from media convergence. The base of their strategy is heavy investment in skills development and untraditional partnerships, combined with efforts and challenges to create a positive attitude to change which is likely to have huge effects on skills profiles and work practices.
Børsen, a Danish business newspaper is an example of how ICT is successfully deployed to build customer loyalty through a range of value-added services. However, this is not a conflict-free arena because of the impact that ICT is having on what is perceived as the essence of professional identity among the journalists.