We all now know that Kodak's slow response to digital photography set the stage for their demise. So who invented digital photography? It was Kodak. Two engineers at Kodak in 1978 received a patent for a digital camera. Instead of embracing a potential new technology Kodak saw it as a threat to its profitable film business and lost the opportunity to exploit the new technology. The Japanese company Fuji and others were the ones to fully embrace the digital technology and the decline of Kodak began. Kodak now hopes to reorganized as a company selling printers and printer photo paper.
Does this all sound familiar? Who invented the digital watch? In 1973 a Swiss watchmaker developed the digital watch but again lost the opportunity to be a leader in the new technology to the Japanese company Seiko. Which car company produced the first mass produced electric cars in the 1990's? How about General Motors. For three years GM produced the EV-1 electric car that was only available to lease and not to buy. The plan was to develop the technology before producing the cars for purchase. GM decided that the market was unprofitable and ended the experiment after three years and took all the leased cars and destroyed them so that they wouldn't be reproduced. A good movie to watch on this is available from Netflix "Who Killed the Electric Car?" Again a company lost an opportunity in marketing a new product to the Japanese companies of Toyota and Honda. This leads to the phrase "The World invents and Japan mass produces."
So how does a business stay innovative? The following is from a Bloomberg Business Week report on 3M: