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A Kodak Moment

In many ways the evolution of the  identity credential market is likely to mimic what transpired around the turn of the 21st century in the film photography market.

The decade started well enough for Eastman Kodak. In 2000 it clocked film revenues of $11 billion, had 70,000 employees and 14 factories around the world. Then things started going pear shaped. Come 2009, revenues from the sale of film had fallen to $1.3 billion, the workforce had dropped to 20,000 and the number of factories had gone down to one.

Though they had been innovators in the development of  digital cameras, they simply refused to see the writing on the wall relative to the imminent digital revolution.

Kodak invented the first digital sensor but also failed to realize the potential of the digital imaging boom in the late 1990s.  Kodak did not begin to market digital cameras until the market was fairly established.Kodak moved too slowly into digital photography because they were too heavily invested in chemicals, paper and film. They understood that digital photography would destroy those markets. But they couldn’t prevent this from happening so they should have charged ahead full speed. At least that way, they would have had healthy earnings from digital photography to offset their loss of business from analog film and processing chemicals.

I wonder how many of today’s identity credential players, especially those firmly entrenched in the document security  business providing increasingly more complex ways of make paper and plastic cards more secure – holograms, laser printing, foils, special ink, and UV images, etc – truly understand the lesson Kodak failed to; Your days are numbered, Find a new way to make money or suffer the fate of a legendary industrial giant that lost it’s way along with 90% of it’s revenue form one of its most lucrative revenue sources.

Cheers, Maxine

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