Digital Transformation of Walt Disney

1. Executive Summery

Walt Disney is considered as a giant company in media and entertainment since early 2000. Company major competitor is Amazon, and Netflix. Since the establishment, company innovate lots of technological development like 2D, 3D, and 4D viewing system, Over the top (OTT) services. In early 2000, company starts analysing big data to improve customer experiences when they visit Disney theme park, they have used artificial intelligence like Mymagic+ which includes MagicBand, is a great innovation for monitoring customer movement in the amusement park, customizing their choice, controlling different famous attraction by customer. Fastpass is another big introduction to improve quick reservation system. Later, Social, ethical, and behavioural implication of Disney major Digital transformation practices has been discussed with probable future challenges like Disney+ launching in a competitive market, and business closure due to coronavirus pandemic makes a loss for the company last year.

2. Introduction

Digital transformation involved non-innovation businesses, software start-ups and technology-based giants. This framework involves businesses and stakeholders in a variety of industries of all sizes (Warner & Wäger, 2019). Private, public, and almost all industry organisations, were encouraged to explore digital technology, platforms and infrastructure and have often had no alternative but to embrace cutting edge technology and its applications. Digital transformation, fostering creativity of business models and creating customer value has changed how businesses work, build connections with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders in recent years (Bresciani et al. 2018). Devices and artificial intelligence have largely contributed to advanced technologies, providing plenty of opportunity for an efficient transformation of operations and enabling business cooperation and asset sharing (van de Wetering, 2019). In addition, technology has had an impact on industry employees and thus helps employees to emphasise their main strengths through real-time information and AI decision-making support. In media and entertainment industry, Disney has always been a leader in technological and digital transformation and continues to adapt to its challenges.

3. Company overview

Walt Disney is an entertainment and mass media multinational based in the United States, founded in 1923. It is a diversified company with five industries, including media, resorts and parks, product, and experiences, direct to customer and international entertainment studios and facilities. With a solid management team of 22 managers and 10 directors led by Robert A. Iger worldwide, the company has a total employee of approximately 203,000. Walt Disney works as an entertainment company worldwide with its subsidiaries. Domestic cable networks with ESPN, Disney, FX, NGF, Freeform, and ABC brands as well as 8 domestic TV stations have been established on the media of the organisation. This section also deals with television production and distribution. The parks, experiences, and products segment is comprised of 14 theme parks and resorts known as Disneyland in Florida, the Colonial Republic of California, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai; 4 ship vacations Disney Cruise Line, i.e. Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy; 3500 Disney Vacation Club; Disney national geographical expeditions & adventures, Disney and Spa Hawaii and licences the Disney Resort in Japan for their third party intellectual property. The Studio Entertainment division of the corporation makes and distributes film footage in the Walt Disney pictures, Twentieth Century studios, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Searchlight Pictures, and BlueSky Studios. It also creates, produces and licences live entertainment. The department is focused directly on consumer and international networks, which include Disney, ESPN, Fox, National Geographic, and Star; Disney+, Hot star, ESPN+, and Hulu; manages brands and sites such as Disney Movie, Disney, and Disney Digital Network. The company made net profits in 2020 of 65 billion dollars, 6 percent below 2019, and a total of 201 billion dollars of assets.

4. Digital Transformation of Disney

Digital advancement is adopted first in the media and entertainment industries. Every business field understands the need for physical and digital purposes to analyse big data. The media and entertainment industry are developing effectively together with innovative technological advances. The industry has been at the transition of rapid technological transformation focusing on enforcing artificial intelligence. Digital media was developed as a distributed alternative media, with an emphasis on print, movies, advertising, gaming, animations, radio, and music across all sub-sectors. It has also proven to be a core sales platform for various media companies to adopt digital strategies for their survival on the highly competitive market.

4.1. Enforcing technological innovation

Disney is generally regarded as the industry’s leader in the television and entertainment industries. It stretched the limits of art and technology by inventing multiple 3D virtual camera movement in a world limited to a 2D medium in 1937 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (The Take, 2018). Their core business strategy is technological transformation due to the rapid rise of digital streaming services like Netflix, amazon prime, Hulu affects the subscribers of Disney’s streaming business. Company purchase Maker studio in 2014 to be pioneer in content creator market help to compete with YouTube and Netflix (Weiss, 2015).

4.2. Analysing Big data

The media and entertainment company consider ‘Big Data’ as the 4 V’s i.e. data volume, data velocity analysis, structured and unstructured data variety and data value means quality and effect in business strategy (Russom, 2011). Big Data tends to bulk amount of data by regular storage and processing infrastructure sets that require time to analyse (Bollier, 2010; Manovich, 2012;). Furthermore, analysing Big data will reflect the user history except the reason behind it. Manovich (2012) challenges the importance of subsequent findings for the individual or group in his discussion of Big Data Analysis Tools. Thus, the importance of the observed data and/or analyses is critical to the discussion of big data.

4.3. Product and service customization by AI

It seems that artificial intelligence is the next with its innovative promises (Castelino, 2018). Few documents demonstrate the applications and consequences of artificial intelligence for the media sector’s particular business and customer characteristics (Picard, 2005), as well as the difficulty of creating content based on judgement, perception, imagination, and communication (Gentzkow, 2018).

4.4. Customer interactive experience

Companies appear to have a similar enthusiasm for AI in the advertising and media sectors. In an industry survey, 87% of managers thought AI is important for product offering, whereas 92% found AI vital for business process (Deloitte, 2017). AI is expected to play an increasing role in marketing and media contexts, with the volume, sources, and speed of “big data” continually increased (Forrester, 2017). In a world of data and direct consumption, media needs to meet the audience’s expectations more quickly and better than other technology companies (Raconteur, 2018).

4.5. Digital presence through Disney+

A variety of things means digital transformation to digitise every business transaction in your brand, is very important for any company in media and entertainment industry. The addition of an AI bot to app or website can assist customer service, digitalization and automatic charging, and personalization of marketing and communications via data. Disney+ is Disney’s recent push into the world of streaming and its own digital transformation. Their content has been approved for competitors like Netflix in recent history. But Disney has now re-controlled its own content to start Disney+. Recently, Disney+’s sales eclipsed $20 million in its first month of release. Disney+ is already competitive with Netflix’s having 24 million subscribers for the app. Digital transformation that is capable of many traditional brands. Their enormous brand power can bring a brand into the digital landscape of the 21st century and compete with the disrupting industries.

5. Social ethical and behavioural implication

The Disney content could convert fantasy world into reality specially it creates wonderful imagination for children, touch people’s lives and be the source of happiness and inspiration through Disneyland creation. Walt Disney covers almost whole entertainment world with its magical and cheerful content which inspire many visitors for its amusement parks every year create queueing outside its popular rides (Niles, 2014). Disney latest AI technology Fastpass solves this problem very easily and increase its popularity. It creates a virtual queueing system of interested visitor helps to reduce waiting time in long queue. Fastpass creates a flexible time for tour around the parks specially in vacation time when it is in need to relief unnecessary stress while visiting (Niles, 2014). It helps the visitor to arrive at reservation time without waiting for rides like Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin’, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Heaton, 2015). This is a paperless system using AI technology which lead to a relax start of parks visit every day. Furthermore, Fastpass technology helps visitors to change reservation anytime specially, if one rides like Pirates of the Caribbean broke down, visitor can quickly change the reservation to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Heaton, 2015).

6. Future Challenges and Opportunities

The Walt Disney Corporation is regarded as a leader in the media and entertainment industry as a result of its corporate strategy and acquisitions. While I believe Disney has taken positive measures to mitigate its exposure to cord cutting, I am worried about the company’s ability to create competitive content relevant with powerhouses such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO, among others.

7. Conclusion

Disney was founded in 1923 and remains strong with a vision of providing beautiful classics in 2D and 3D cartoons. They have been an iconic company for more than 95 years and reached billions in the hearts of the public. Their products and particularly their animated films are highly requested which ensures that Disney will unlikely disappear soon. Disney has acquired enough companies and sufficient cash flow for the coming years to sustain its company.

8. References

Barnes, B. (2013) At Disney parks, a bracelet meant to build loyalty (and sales). [Online] Available from: [Accessed 10 April 2021]



This is Tambir, completed my post graduation on Business Administration.

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Tambir Ahmed

This is Tambir, completed my post graduation on Business Administration.