Ref: IMD-7-2024

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2024

Order this case study

Turkcell (A): How To Respond To Digital Disruption?

By Professor Tawfik JelassiTawfik Jelassi and Pallivathukkal Cherian Abraham

Kaan Terzioglu, Turkcell’s CEO, was in a pensive mood on his fifth day on the job. He had just received his first WhatsApp call, which highlighted the challenge his company – Turkey’s largest mobile telecommunications provider – was facing from over-the-top (OTT) service providers.

Of Turkcell’s 35 million mobile subscribers, 10 million were WhatsApp users. The 4.5G spectrum auctions, where the company would be competing against Vodafone and Turk Telekom, were approaching in August 2015. Turkcell needed to decide whether to bid aggressively to maintain its market leading position or to bid less aggressively to acknowledge a more competitive and less profitable future.

Turkcell had remained solidly profitable and its revenues in Turkey had increased by 10% from the first quarter of 2014 to early 2015. Voice revenues in Turkey had dropped by 4%, though an increase in data revenues of 46% had more than counterbalanced this.

Intense competition with Vodafone and Turk Telekom made it difficult to increase prices. Turkcell faced significant internal challenges. Mobile and fixed-line communications were run by separate subsidiaries, which made it difficult for Turkcell to present one face to the consumer and react effectively to the converging telecom market. The organization was top-heavy with too many managers at all levels. Despite all this, the feeling within the company was that there was no compelling need for change because it was number one among mobile telecom operators and profitable. Turkcell’s international operations had been hit by currency devaluations in Ukraine and Belarus. They were a mixed bag including both subsidiaries and minority stakes.

As the new CEO, Kaan Terzioglu knew that he had a window of opportunity to make significant changes. He wondered where he should start. 

Learning Objective

Learning objectives for case (A):

  • How corporate executives can determine what the digital future of their business is
  • How companies can embark on a digital business transformation to achieve the digital future of their business
KeywordsDigital Disruption, Digital Transformation, Digitalization, Emerging Market, Future, International Growth, Multinational Corporation, Strategy, Telecommunication, Over-the-top Services
SettingsMiddle East, Turkey
Turkcell
2015 to 2018
TypeField Research
Copyright©2018
LanguageEnglish
Related materialTeaching notes
Order this case study

Reference: IMD-7-2024

IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre Babson College

Babson Park Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way Boston, MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Case Center Japan

2nd Floor, Toranomon Jitsugyokaikan,
1-1-20 Toranomon, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 105-0001 Japan
Tel +81 3 3503 6621
Fax +81 3 3501 0550
Email [email protected]

Copyright information

IMD retains all proprietary interests in its case studies and notes. Without prior written permission, IMD cases and notes may not be reproduced, used, translated, included in books or other publications, distributed in any form or by any means, stored in a database or in other retrieval systems. For additional copyright information, please contact IMD's Information Center Copyrights Services.

Contact our Knowledge Center for additional information on IMD publications

Keep reading

Back to top