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Technological Environment

Discuss About The Entrepreneurial Failure Of Eastman Kodak.

Business environment refers to the combination of internal factors and external factors that affect business operation, and which can work together to improve or negatively affect the business. Some of the internal factors include profits, management, current employees, corporate culture, human resource, organizational structure, assets, loans etc. the external factors include technology, competition, customers and suppliers, economy, politics, taxation, government policies, etc. Internal factors are those factors controllable by the business itself because they are from within the business whereas external factors are those that can’t be controlled by business and it has totally no power over it(Soni & Kodali 2010). The success of a business depends on these factors and it means, they can make or kill the business. The political instability which affects economy may be good for some business and bad for others and vice versa. When an economy of a country is doing badly the business may be at risk. The business owners and managers must be very keen on ensuring that no internal factors have not been managed in order to be at the safer side as they look into the environmental factors to act on their capacity since they can’t control them(Soni & Kodali 2010). This essay will explore the environmental factors in which Kodak film Company-operated and why it was able to fall in relation to four elements of the business operation.

With the changing innovation and new discoveries in the film business which allowed many goods and services to be offered to the consumers by other related companies, Kodak was overwhelmed by rival companies that throw it out of the market. A company that employed over 60,000 employees in its peak in the 1980s failed to employ only 7000 people between 2004-2007 according to New York Time’s story on Rochester’s economic evolution. Kodak in decades ago had foreseen digital photography overtaking film which led to the latter inventing first digital cameras in 1975 but decided to take critical chose to only focus on the legacy film business leaving behind no improvement to its new discovery(Goldsborough 2013). Kodak was very aware of the future but failed but failed to implement its strategies in to fit in it(Deaux & Gara 2013). This delay and ignorant cost the company beyond recover due to fast increasing innovation by other related companies which never slept on their job. Henderson says, “Large companies have a difficult time transitioning into new markets because there is a temptation to put the existing asset into the new business.” New technologies allowing other companies new methods of distributing goods and services was a big blow to Kodak. Kodak failed to change its tactics to adapt to the new competitive markets(Lau 2014). Despite Kodak having so much potential in coming with unique products and innovation, such as 1991introduction of photo CD, allowing consumers to view digital photos on their computers, it was already decision got slow(Lucas Jr & Goh 2009). In spite the company introducing many pocket-sized digital cameras in the late 1990s and finishing with the introduction of EasyShare device in 2001, there was high competition in the digital cameras market which offered even offered lesser prices. Innovation in the smartphone technology has been other challenges which have faced the company with many consumers preferring to iPhones which have richer features, Google Android devices for taking videos and photos at an increased lower price. Although Kodak was very much aware of the changing digital photography it decided to stick with its corporate culture which was too ingrained in its past successes.

International Environment

Kodak faced a lot of competition from international companies such as Fuji photo from Japan, which undercut it huge prices by offering lower prices for photo and film supplies. This was a big blow to Kodak, a company that had over 90% of the market share for photographic film and marketing for cameras by 85%, according to Henderson co-authored study. The failure of the company to play its role of the official filmmaker for the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles was a good opportunity for Fuji photo to exploit its sponsorship hence winning a permanent foothold in the market share(Cuthbertson, Furseth & Ezell 2015). According to Henderson, there is a need for Kodak to follow other American corporate icons, IBM and Corning Glass which recreated themselves to adapt to new market needs. They can add to their call business new products and services and invest heavily in other opportunities to reclaim its position in the market.

Changes in Economic situation continued to haunt Kodak Company which made it borrow loans worth $950 from Citigroup to reorganize its business to enable it to emerge from bankruptcy it had been constantly termed.  The company, however, failed to reinvent itself as a result of the fast-changing economy (Ray Gehani 2013). This was contributed by high innovation on the digital upstairs that crowded the market taking all its foothold in the market. Kodak laxity and maintaining a corporate culture of the past success made its huge losses and made it difficult to recover(Grant 2016). The company which had employed over 60, 000 employees dropped to less than 7000 employees between 2004-2007, which is estimated to have dropped even high in the recent years.

The company continues to struggle with a legal issue to regain its confidence and name by filing for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy(Mourdoukoutas 2011). The company also announced of its decided to stop making digital cameras, digital picture frames, pocket video cameras and put emphasis towards corporate digital imaging market.

Many barriers to change led to the fall of Kodak. The rise of complacency in the Kodak Company was the major problem. The more the company rises, the more complacency increase and the more the management from the top listened to the innovators and the more failure could be expected from the company. The management failed to take action even when they knew a problem was coming, the technological discontinuation challenge as fierce competitors flocked the market were the major contributors to Kodak current situation(Komori 2015). The company faced low margin profits due to reduced prices of competitors’ digital products. The company bosses ignored every other person (innovators) who had great ideas on how they were to deal with the completion issues in the company and got less support.

Economic Environment


Rivalry with Fujifilm that entered the film market with low prices was not seen a threat to the Kodak which thought its American customers would forever stick to its products. By so doing, Fuji was opportune to become the official filmmaker in the Los Angeles Olympics further gaining full sponsorship right which made it have a foothold in the marketplace. This was a big loss to the Kodak Company which was the inventor of the film industry(Kotter,2012). This penetration became the worst experience of the Kodak which continued to remain silent on its rival strategies to improve their products innovation and services. This was a technological environment which Kodak took to slow due to complacency it had started embracing. Market share of Fuji started to rise from 10% in the early 1990s to 17% in 1997. Fuji continued to enter the professional market with Velvia and Provia which were transparent films competing successfully with the Kodak Kodachrome, a signature professional product(Pan & Gao 2012). Velvia and Provia used economical E-6 processing standard machine in most labs as opposed to dedicated machines which were required in processing Kodachrome. This was also a technological environment which made Kodak continue feeling the pain the deeper.

Retaining customers was the other challenge that faced Kodak brands. This was because Kodak took too long to shift from analog to digital. The cost of shifting to digital was the biggest struggle for Kodak any Company especially when customers became reluctant to buy products from them(Kotter 2012). With the invention of mobile phones technology, many people are becoming comfortable with the mobile phones cameras digital images and videos without necessarily having to buy extra devices they can use to capture best moments(Booth 2015). This is an economic environment that also pushed Kodak out of reach in the film industry. As people want a device with all needs in one platform Kodak cameras would be the last option. One of the major contributing factors to stiff competition of brand is having a substitute and this has really deepened the pain of Kodak.

There has been intense competition from national and global players which has been a major threat to Kodak existence. Kodak market share has reduced gradually in the past years due to rivalry in the industry, price wars between competitors, negative branding, and management instability. For Kodak to survive again it should venture into mobile devices as this is the major competitor of the imaging industry. Education level among the employees of Kodak remained the best as more innovators were known to be employed by the company(Barclay, Dann & Holroyd 2010). The problem with this was that the management did not fully exploit what they had to increase their competitive edge. This is a social and cultural environment that would have contributed to the highest gains in the Kodak but did not because of lack of total involvement.

Legal Environment

Kodak management would not put into practice their knowledge on how they should interact with the existing business with the existing technological framework. Even if the management did have the reports on the potentiality of digital technology the Kodak labs did not appreciate it(Komori 2015). This led to shoddy Kodak products and it was like they were lost to the party. There were enough tools and data which were available to predict the future but what the lacked was the will to conduct further improvement. This was a social environment affected by the managerial culture of slow in down things and response.

Conclusion

Companies that want to prosper must ensure that they act quickly to emerging issues such as technology in order to avoid being thrown out of the market. The management should avoid being too boastful of the past achievement and focus on doing all they could in their power to ensure the company or business continues to thrive. Employees should be given a chance to voice their ideas and line of reasoning. There are business environments which the business cannot control and they should ensure that they focus on the internal environment management. The main threat to today's’ business is the technological innovation which has lagged many companies behind of their competitor which calls for immediate action among the business stakeholders. Some ideas in business must be implemented at their right time and put into consideration to avoid risks of losing potential growth like Kodak did in its invention of digital cameras. Companies should not put so much trust in their customer loyalty but should ensure that they improve their product and services to fit the growing needs of their customers without forgetting to take entrants as a big threat.

Reference

Barclay, I., Dann, Z., & Holroyd, P. (2010). New product development. Routledge.

Booth, S. A. (2015). Crisis management strategy: Competition and change in modern enterprises. Routledge.

Cuthbertson, R., Furseth, P. I., & Ezell, S. J. (2015). Kodak and Xerox: How High-Risk Aversion Kills Companies. In Innovating in a Service-Driven Economy (pp. 166-179). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Deaux, J., & Gara, A. (2013). Kodak: The end of an American moment. The Street.

Grant, R. M. (2016). Contemporary strategy analysis: Text and cases edition. John Wiley & Sons.

Goldsborough, R. (2013). The changing world of photography. Tech Directions, 72(7), 12.

Komori, S. (2015). Innovating out of the crisis: How Fujifilm survived (and Thrived) as its core business was vanishing. Stone Bridge Press, Inc.

Kotter, J. (2012). Barriers to change: The real reason behind the Kodak downfall. Forbes, May, 2.

Lau, W. V. (2014). Distressed Finance: Today and Tomorrow. In CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly (Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 12-17). CFA Institute.

Lucas Jr, H. C., & Goh, J. M. (2009). Disruptive technology: How Kodak missed the digital photography revolution. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 18(1), 46-55.

Mourdoukoutas, P. (2011). The Entrepreneurial Failure of Eastman Kodak. Retrieved on April, 27.

Pan, J., & Gao, F. (2012). Kodak, Fight to Revive. SWOT Analysis and Strategy Plan.

Ray Gehani, R. (2013). Innovative strategic leader transforming from a low-cost strategy to product differentiation strategy. Journal of technology management & innovation, 8(2), 144-155.

Soni, G., & Kodali, R. (2010). Internal benchmarking for assessment of supply chain performance. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 17(1), 44-76.

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