Kodak: The End of an Era

By Bob Larrivee posted 01-19-2012 11:52


This week Eastman Kodak Co., a pioneer and longtime industry camera and film leader, announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While most known for their cameras, film and film processing, Kodak also holds a reported 1,100 patents for digital technology such as cameras, scanners and printers. While this definitely marks a turning point in Kodak’s history, many cite it truly marks the end of the film era as a whole. But does it really?

Many organizations like those in the government and nuclear industries still see film as the permanent archive choice due to it being technology agnostic and the proven longevity when maintained under specific conditions. These organizations, while using digital technology for day to day use, still rely on film for long term preservation of critical information. The film market is diminishing and the news we see from Kodak is definitely a bellwether of the industry but could it also be a sign of a diminishing market for printing as well?

While digital printing is still big business, one has to ask if it will sustain over the next 10 years as more and more people move from a paper world to the digital world of news and magazines. On the personal print market side, we are now beginning to also see downward trending to a degree with organizations like the U.S. Postal Service announcing it will also reduce its size, operating hours, and personnel due to a decrease in mail volume. Indications are that more and more companies and people are moving toward digital communication and transactions with digital banking and use of tools like Skype, which leads us to the world of capture.

This is another area where Kodak has a presence. Capture now comes in many forms. You can capture using digital cameras, scanners and even your phone. Capture is a key element of the digital society in that we are now able to share information instantly with many of our family and friends. Where once we used a camera and looked at the photos with others or had duplicates made for sharing, we now point, click, upload and are done. Our whole universe can share in the wonders we see. This is an area evolving so quickly that when you make a purchase, it seems within a week you are already using an obsolete device. The market is here and seems ready for whatever comes along that is smaller, faster, higher resolution and simpler to use. Many organizations are even accepting digital photos of expense receipts taken via phone as part of the expense reporting package.

In my view, what is happening at Kodak is surely a transitional sign that societal acceptance of digital communication and less paper dependence for communication and business transactions is at hand. Having been in this industry more than 30 years, I am sad to see a company and its employees go through this, having gone through it myself with Wang in the late 1980s. It is definitely a sign and a signal to others that change is inevitable and it is how we adapt to change that makes the difference. I wish Kodak and its employees all the best in these times of change and hope there is a brighter future ahead for all.      

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started. 

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

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I will be speaking at and look forward to meeting you at the following events:

  • January 31-February 3, 2012 AIIM ECM Masters in London, UK
  • February 5-7, 2012 Capture 2012 in San Antonio, TX
  • February 14-17, 2012 AIIM BPM Masters in San Diego, CA
  • February 26-28, 2012 Share Conference, Johannesburg, SA
  • March 20-23, 2012 AIIM 2012 Conference in San Francisco, CA
  • June 13-14, 2012 info360 Conference in New York, NY



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