Feb. 4 2016 invester news were verd strong for Daimler AG in fiscal year 2015. Never before, Daimler had sold so many vehicles – 2.9 million in cluding 321.000 vans and 495.000 truck; the Daimler Holding generated 149.4 billion euros revenues, and made – 8.9 billion euros net profit. Now CEO Dieter Zetsche also wants to change the company culture. „Hierarchical structure, meeting culture, performance evaluation – all put to the test,“ he says. „The only requirement: There are no rules.“ He may be thinking of structures and processes like Google.
There has been so much discussion around the restructuring of Google, even the German ZEIT magazine feared an attack on the countries competitiveness. Google innovativeness is a challenge for many companies, but adapting to the changing market conditions is a constant task for business leaders, some in a drastic way others do it step by step and adapt to the current requirements. Martin Reeves introduces the term strategic ambidexterity: a company’s ability of exploring new practices, products and business models while exploiting existing ones at the same time – a capability which is both remarkably valuable and equally hard in practice. Managing in an ambidextrous environment is the challenge of today.
Many years ago, the Daimler AG took up the challenge and started is learning about multi-brand every day. In the passenger car market, they offer Mercedes-Benz an then the „Smart“ car. In 1997, this mini car model was added as “the city mobile of the future”. In 2003, the Maybach Manufaktur was founded to offer hand-builds cars for the super luxury customers. Early 2014, the Maybach brand was discontinued. Since June 2014, Mercedes-Maybach S-class model as a product brand of Mercedes-Benz is available. In 2015, Mercedes-AMG introduced the AMG GT as separate branded model.
For industrial customers Daimler AG offers a portfolio of truck brand with regional priorities. Mercedes-Benz is headquartered in Germany; Freightliner operates from the USA, Fuso from Japan, Western Star Trucks from Canada. In Russia, Daimler has a truck Joint Venture with Kamaz, and in China with Foton. In June 2012, the first BharatBenz truck hit the Indian roads, and will serve the product requirements in the developing countries. They followed Martin Reeves first strategic principles: “Allow each unit to deploy the right approach to strategy and execution.” Over the years, management had to learn that this principle has its limitations. In the global competitive environment efficiencies and synergies between the brands had to be materialized. Multi-brand portfolio management became the requirement. Shareholder were pushing for higher margins and competitors like Volvo set bench marks way ahead of Daimler’s former single brand performance.
Also, the commercial customers (B2B) require clarity about the value proposition of the various Daimler brands around the globe. Just imagine, you manage an iron ore mine in Australia, and want to purchase new fleet of trucks. Which trucks fulfill your transportation requirements in the harsh mining environment? Do you want to buy from one company and how do you want your trucks be serviced? These and more questions have to be answer correctly by the brand owners to be part of the deal.
Other industries have similar challenges and market leaders react with new strategic approaches which include new organizational set-up and the distinct brand strategy. Daimler AG has taken up this challenge in B2C and B2B market, but many more has to learn. Could they learn from the Marriott Group brand management, Caterpillar or Atlas Copco?
 Patrick Beuth: Ungefähr zehn gute Gründe für den Google-Umbau, 11. August 2015, 15:42 Uhr http://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2015-08/google-alphabet-aufspaltung-analyse and Eike Kühl: Google sagt, was böse ist, 5. Oktober 2015, 16:59 Uhr http://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2015-10/alphabet-google-dont-be-evil-slogan-motto
 Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, Janmejaya Sinha: Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach, Harvard Business Review Press (2015) see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE_ETgaFVo8
 Martin Reeves: Google Couldn’t Survive with One Strategy, BCG Perspectiv October 2015 also available under https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/commentary/corporate-strategy-portfolio-managment-strategic-planning-google-couldnt-survive-with-one-strategy/