Axel Springer in 2014: Strategic Leadership of the Digital Transformation Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

In 2013, the digital transformation at publishing house Axel Springer SE, the leading content provider in Germany, was underway. The company owned some prominent newspapers and magazines like Die Welt and Bild. The CEO Mathias Dopfner, evaluates the performance of the digital reform. By the end of the 20th century, the digital revolution captured by the publishing industry dramatically. Many of the publishing companies found serious challenges by this technological reform, and by the changing customer’s preferences and how news was consumed. The CEO divided his transformation approach into a two stage process. In 2006 at the start, the primary attention was on organic growth and late-stage digital acquisitions. This stage consisted the introduction of digitization into the company’s culture and focused on profitability. In 2013, following the second strategy based on the company’s mission, set by the CEO, to turn into “The Leading Digital Publisher” and he defined the business and branded content of the company, not its distribution channels. Along with the introduction of this new strategy, the company wanted to embrace investments and entrepreneurship and to mark the success utilizing three business models: paid content, marketing, and classified advertising. At the beginning of 2013, this two-stage digital transformation approach by the CEO marked the dramatic success. The company had the employee base of over 12,800 individuals, $3.9 billion in revenues, and $625 million in EBITDA. It had marked over expected success and contribution to EBITDA  and revenue through the digital media and had targeted 44 nations with servicing 98 million digital visitors across the world. In April 2014, while contemplating about the future of Axel Springer, the CEO knew of the potential challenges. Dopfner was aware the importance of a balance between the traditional and digital media business approaches, along with this he needed to rebuild the company’s identity, and continue this transition of the company’s culture as a pioneer. In particular, he understood that how crucial it is to prepare the company for the emerging fight between digitally transforming traditional media content providers, such as Axel Springer, and the leading digital technology specialists, such as Google, turning themselves into media organizations.

Axel Springer in 2014 Strategic Leadership of the Digital Media Transformation The Case Solution

Furthermore, he wondered whether it would be possible to prepare an effective coalition to support the traditional sources of content in this battle, passing through digital transforming, and if so, what are the ways to do it.

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