What can we learn from a company that has been in business over 100 years and is now bankrupt? A lot.
It was announced recently that Kodak will no longer make digital cameras. Kodak invented the digital camera, and was a pioneer in photography for a century. This news comes just under a month from the bankruptcy filings for the company.
Lesson 1 - Competition is good
I, like most everyone has at one point or another purchased a Kodak product. I have never owned a Kodak digital camera, but I certainly used their film (when we used film). The competition onslaught that ultimately brought Kodak to their knees was the best thing possible for camera users. The reason I never bought their digital camera is because it was not as good as some of the others out there. Whether it was better digital cameras or just the availability of a 12MB+ camera on your phone, the customer is the winner in this case.
Lesson 2 - Customer's are loyal, to a limit
As a company, you cannot expect your customers to be loyal if you do not continue to bring them the best. Kodak most likely remained relevant because of the people who bought their cameras on name recognition alone. Had it not been for their loyal customers, they probably would have been here five years ago.
Lesson 3 - Companies need to be nimble
I don't think it was a big surprise to the top executives at Kodak that business was not going well. Either the management felt like their printer strategy would pull them out of a slump or they just didn't know what to do next. Without knowing the inner workings of the company, I cannot pretend that I would have done anything differently. However it seems to me like they would have had opportunities to put their cameras into phones, laptops, backup cameras, security cameras or anything else.
Lesson 4 - Nothing lasts forever
Despite having access to great talent who I am sure worked very hard to save this company, nothing lasts forever. In a world where companies are constantly coming and going, it is amazing for any company to last a century. Kodak played a huge part in the lives of people worldwide for a large part of it's existence. For that, they should be congratulated.