back to article How to tell if your biz will do a Kodak

Disruptive or enhancing innovation? Kodak's descent into Chapter 11 hell is a tolling bell for all successful storage suppliers facing innovative technology from competitors. King Canute didn't reinvent himself: can you? Let's look at the tape market. Tape devices were backup devices; they were the target storage devices for …


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  1. jonathanb Silver badge

    "The cloud" won't make a difference

    The cloud in itself won't make a difference. Cloud backup means storing things on someone else's storage media rather than your own. The options for what to store it on up in the sky are much the same as down here on earth.

    1. Daniel 1

      That point was made in the article

      The point, implied, was that selling to Jeff Bezos isn't like selling to Tim's Hardware store. Bezos will sign five year exclusive bulk order deals, that give a 0.01% profit margin.

      The message is: get in the queue to pitch to Jeff, or start work on your CV.

    2. Dave@SolidFire

      The media yes.. but the storage systems.. no

      While the physical media may be the same locally or in the cloud, it would be a mistake to think that the storage systems that Amazon uses look anything like the EMC & Netapp arrays in most enterprises, or the Drobo and Netgear home NAS boxes in SMB and homes deployments.

      The reality is that the migration to cloud will drive significant change in storage systems architecture, if not the media itself (and media is actually a small portion of storage $ spent).

    3. Tom 13

      Agreed. "The Cloud" is just the spun out version of yesterday's "Outsourcing."

      As soon as most businesses get that properly imprinted on their too mushy brains, things will not look quite so sunny in "The Cloud." I will grant that unlike IBM trying to sell time on their proprietary mainframes, this one has a more consumer friendly interface and therefore doesn't have quite the same hit for "expert technical advice" but the fundamental issues remain: If the data aren't on your hardware, in your building, with you having engineered in the needed redundancy and power backups (including if necessary the generator and the railroad car of fuel), you're at the vendor's mercy when things go pear shaped. And sooner or later, something ALWAYS goes pear shaped - just ask a BB user who was dependent on RIMs cloud services.

  2. Whitter

    Cart before horse.

    First: you need a board that care what happens to the company in 5 years time, rather than their personal career path.

    Then you can worry about if they are competent enough to actually run the company.

    1. Silverburn

      Good luck with that.

      +1 tho' - I know where you're coming from.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a board that care what happens to the company in 5 years time"

      Countries outside the UK (and US?) seem to manage that kind of thing better than the UK does.

      But then the UK still has a paper-based economy (the pieces of paper in question being the worthless things traded in the City, shares, currency, brands, etc. Even if the traders have moved to 'virtual paper', how many of these folks are really producing anything of value to anyone outside the City, how many of them are doing anything that couldn't be done cheaper in Bangalore?). Whereas some other European economies still make things and/or provide genuine services. Maybe the same applies outside Europe, I have no experience of this myself.

  3. Zog The Undeniable


    Canute wasn't trying to hold back the tide. He was showing that he was powerless to do so and, therefore, that he was not divine.

    You could argue that the muppets running Kodak were just trying to show that they weren't God and had no control over market forces, I suppose, in which case they were entirely successful.

  4. Is it me?

    Its Management Stupid....

    Any company can reinvent itself, diversify, invent, it's just a case of vision, but how many times have we heard managements state that they need to concentrate on the core business/markets Fine if the process makes you more agile in the market you are in, but how often does that happen, against now being small enough to be swallowed by a bigger player, or not generate sufficient revenue to invest.

    To me this means they are not capable of doing more than one thing at a time, and don't want to step outside what they know, thus, are incapable of innovating into new markets.

    The other failing we have is the odd idea that a company manager does not need to understand the business, only how to manage, get enough of those on your board and it doesn't matter how much you innovate, you are doomed, as managers won't undersatnd the innovation or its potential.

    Oh, then there are the managements whose main aim is to sell the company, who don't invest because they want high profits to attract a buyer, works for a while, but if you don't get bought, where do you go?

    Of Rochester's two horses, Kodak was always going to be the first to go. The other had a $100 full colour ink jet printer in in the late 80's, see where that got them.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      This is not how it works.

      "it's just a case of vision"

      Say what? It is impossible to know whether your latest attempt at "innovation" will go anywhere. If you could just decide to "innovate" and win thereby, it would be easy.

      Let's take this optical storage thing. Definitely innovate, but it didn't go anywhere. This is not necessarily due to bad positioning as the article implies. It may be just due to bad luck, bad timing, bad technological approaches, bad marketing or even government red tape & taxes. Tomorrow a tentacle of HP may come out with something similar and win big.

      I like the clarity of hindsight but one should not be fooled into thinking that it allows one to take the next step, however small.

  5. Wang N Staines

    The music mafia need to read this article. maybe too late for them though.

  6. amanfromearth

    Error in title

    .. it seems this story has little to do with Kodak

  7. Silverburn

    Business Management simplified

    1. Make more money than you spent = profit.

    2. Spend more money than you make = bust.

    You want to do option 1.

    And to pay me a grand for this invaluable advice, naturally.

    Keep your eye out for forthcoming 140 character lectures covering 'how to obtain World Peace', 'how to end famine', 'solve global warming'.

    1. Matt W

      Not really

      I think you've missed the point of the article which would better be summarised as:

      1. Take a short term view to make as much profit as possible from your current product line = more profit now, shareholders happy, your management career flourishes and you can move on to bigger and better things, while the company itself eventually fails

      2. Take a longer term view as re-invest a reasonable portion of your profits in innovation and identifying future trends = reduced profit now, shareholders impatient, your career stagnates but the company is healthier

      Spot the conflict of interest

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    George Eastman should have been ashamed at founding such an unsuccessful company...

    I'd love to start a business that "does a Kodak".

    That is, if "doing a Kodak" means it'll last 120 years (and possibly more) and be massively successful during all but the final few years of its life...

    1. Tom 13

      The catch as I see it is that

      I expect if we had a George Eastman clone who had become the CEO of Kodak about 20 years ago, and possibly as few as 10, we'd not now be talking about anyone doing a Kodak. It is fundamentally a vision thing.

  9. Tim 11

    What is a company anyway?

    scenario 1: a company employing X number of people reinvents itself to meet the changing market and thrives.

    scenario 2: a company employing X number of people fails to reinvent itself and goes bust; somewhere else another company employing X number of people forms to meet the new market.

    poh-tay-toh, poh-tah-to

    1. BossHog


      Who ever says po-tah-to? Anyone? No? Dust?

  10. paulc

    Cloud Backup is fatally flawed

    not only by bandwidth concerns, but by the fact that some tw@t in the USA could have your cloud provider taken out by claiming there's some pirated content being hosted by them and the entire server farm gets nuked off the internet by having their domain seized... Not to mention the fact that your data is going over the wires and being processed somewhere out of your control in probable violation of data protection laws...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Tunneled connections, anyone?

      Intercepting data won't mean much if all you get is a bunch of encrypted gibberish. As for cloud providers, why not pick one that resists US extradition and doesn't use an American-based TLD?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "whee it is much more efficient".

    Interesting Freudian slip ... seems like paulc is not the only one with cloud backup reservations

  12. Derek Currie Bronze badge

    Marketing-As-Management Killed Kodak

    I worked at Kodak during its development of digital imaging technology and their concurrent decline during the 1990s. There are many factors that have lead to Kodak's bankruptcy. But the worst problem was an organization behavior I call 'Marketing-As-Managment'. Kodak had spent decades raking in the cash from selling film. It became such a reliable market that Kodak allowed its entrepreneurial, inventive and innovative work culture to wain while it allowed a marketing culture to take over. This lead to putting marketing people into executive positions, an all too common form of business suicide. It can work as long as the current product has a market. Unfortunately, the film market has gradually disappeared, requiring Kodak to 'reinvent itself.' However, when marketing people run the company, that is impossible.

    This behavior is part of a personality clash between a group called 'Producers', those who invent, create, innovate, make things, versus 'Relationals', those whose personal reality is focused upon interpersonal relationships, NOT upon getting things done. When Producers push to stop talking and start doing, the response from Relationals is the single worst of all personality clashes. The Relationals viscously respond, undermining and even firing the Producers. This is exactly what happened with digital imaging at Kodak where R&D was gutted, demoralized and made to cowtow to the self-destructive behavior of the Marketing-As-Management regime. Therefore, despite having incredible digital technology invented at Kodak, it was squandered and buried by the Relational oriented work culture and management. This behavior killed countless projects and opportunities, a squandered future. The only cure I know of is a revolution whereby the Marketing-As-Management are thrown out or pushed aside to make way for a renewed entrepreneurial management and work culture. This is the story of Apple's resurgence. It never happened at Kodak, sad to say.

    1. bobbles31

      "The only cure I know of is a revolution whereby the Marketing-As-Management are thrown out or pushed aside to make way for a renewed entrepreneurial management and work culture."

      Or a more Darwinian approach of, the beast dies because it is no longer fit to survive within the environment. (i.e. the company goes bust)

      This is why free markets work and what should have happened with the Banks in the UK at least. But that is off topic for this comments section.

  13. trafalgar

    Cloud advantages

    1GB general server storage is around £2/ year in our own datacentre. This includes hardware, power, 24/7 support. A cloud provider quoted us £0.16/year for 1GB of mail storage (cheaper if we took out more).

    It's not for everyone, data protection issues etc. However I imagine agreements to geofence the data, eg stays in EU/UK data centres etc.

  14. roger stillick

    Kodaks Missing Digital Camera

    Now it is obvious why no Kodak Digi-cam was ever marketed... it didnt have film in it... NIH made it impossible to buy out a small lab imaging company and make a World Beater Digital Camera System... EOF

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