The speed of Eastman Kodak’s downfall from Dow component to cautionary tale was a rarity, but the problems that sunk the company were fairly common.
Knowledge@Wharton deconstructed Kodak’s decline into bankruptcy in a case study. The study cites academics who specialize in management, innovation and marketing. (Some of them could make good sources for stories on companies facing similar challenges.)
Among the case study’s findings:
• Kodak had the technological know-how to adapt to the digital imaging revolution. (In fact, Kodak invented the first digital camera.) Its downfall was in failing to change its business strategy to capitalize off the new technology. Fear of eroding sales of its film business paralyzed the company.
• Kodak also failed to use its boom-time resources to buy out competitors or acquire new technologies that might have benefited it down the road.
• Kodak’s success from 1930 through 1980 left it “bloated” and largely rudderless. With no clear strategy other than to enjoy the wide margins of the film business, Kodak failed to differentiate itself as a consumer-oriented or business-oriented company.
Read the full article.