Few companies had histories as storied as Eastman Kodak. Although the company developed the first digital camera in 1975, "the product was dropped for fear it would threaten Kodak's photographic film business." [Wikipedia]
Well, we all know how that turned out. In September, the company emerged from bankruptcy, but its future is anything but bright. What else of value does the company have left, save for some patents and withering nostalgia? Can someone say Innovator's Dilemma?
Hindsight is 20/20, but go back in time for a moment to 1975 when a Kodak employee by the name of Steven Sasson shook things up with his invention. The visual below suggested that, at that time, Kodak was doing just fine, thank you very much:
Click here to see a larger and much more legible image.
A new century, new data sources
As shown above, in the early 1970s, employment had been rising steadily at Kodak. What's more, its stock price was progressing on a nice upward trajectory. Is it any wonder that upper management didn't see the value in Sasson's creation? Didn't the data support maintaining the status quo, and strongly at that?
You may be rightfully asking, What's to prevent a Kodak-type situation for my organization today? I have no pithy advice for you, but I will say this. Looking only at internal data is unlikely to tell the entire story. These days, it's wise to consider data external to the organization, including open data, linked data and social data. (For more on this subject, see my post on RavenPack, social data, and the stock market.)
Simon says: look outside your enterprise
An enterprise's own data may suggest that all is fine or even that things are going exceptionally well. (Case in point: Kodak circa 1975.)
Now, let's not get carried away. Your competition isn't likely to share certain information with you. No, privacy isn't completely dead. For instance, Amazon famously won't break out numbers for AWS, Kindles and many other products.
Still, a provincial data mind-set these days is a recipe for disaster.
What say you?