The CEO Magazine
A monthly magazine for business leaders and decision makers

Two core pillars of our success are ‘Innovation’ and ‘Customer Delight’, says Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India.

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Two core pillars of our success are ‘Innovation’ and ‘Customer Delight’, says Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India.

 With the constantly-evolving technology, steadily making inroads into human lives, the conventional ways of life is transforming. As technology and digitization claims every aspect of human lives, nearly everything we do and use is going to be embedded with cameras and sensors. Right from our smartphones and wearable technologies to traffic lights, everything is getting majorly dependent on imaging technology, as more and more people come to realize the power of intelligent imaging, as it transforms plain pixelated images into smart images. Intelligent imaging essentially brings visual data to life, thereby opening up a whole new level of effective interaction opportunities. Powerful imaging technology has improved our lives, while advancing other industries, such as healthcare, transportation, retail etc. As we continue on this path of digitization, the time is not far when our homes will recognize us faster than our family and friends.

Canon India is the company that brought photographic film production to the country and has ever since, grown and evolved along with its people. With initial focus on photographic films, the company slowly and firmly proliferated in to the digital technology market, making inroads into almost every home in different forms. Innovating in the photographic film domain for decades, starting from raw material to processes to systems, Canon claimed the top spot in India at a very early stage, with over 200 sophisticated and contemporary digital imaging products to its credit. Furthermore, as a result of designing and manufacturing a wide range of products for the photography industry, including cameras and required equipment, Canon established a strong foundation in mechanical design, production systems, and many other. Completing the cycle, its product range includes copier MFDs, Managed Document Services, Inkjet and Laser printers, Document and Cheque Scanners, DSLR’s, Cinematic Imaging Products, catering to the multiple market segments of consumers, SME, B2B, Commercial, Government & PSUs, among others.

With over 20 years of being in India, Canon is determined to not only meet consumer expectations, but also exceed them, by building products with highest standards of reliability and precision. Its state-of-the-art craftsmanship and its cutting-edge technology is deeply ingrained in the heart of every Canon product. Apart from introducing pioneering technologies across the globe, Canon always stays true to its organizational philosophy ‘Kyosei’, which signifies ‘Living and working together for the common good’. What differentiates Canon from many others is that, while developing innovative technologies, Canon also works to lessen the impact on the environment in all stages of the life cycle of its products. Their policies for research as well as manufacturing are aimed at reducing waste and preserving the environment. In 1990, Canon was the first in the world to initiate an expensive cartridge recycling program, where used cartridges were being reused as parts or materials for new cartridges.

Canon India aims to democratize innovation by transforming ideas into tangible products and inculcate the spirit of innovation among all. The company is setting new benchmarks in quality, reliability and turnaround time, using proven engineering and management techniques, which has become the way of life for all Canonites.

The success of Canon can be attributed to the work culture at the company, where it has people, whose sole job is to keep employees happy and maintain productivity.

Abhishek Dubey, Editor at The CEO Magazine, catches up with Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India to know in detail, an excerpt from the interview:

Share your journey with us?

I have spent 37 years of my professional journey with Canon, learning and growing across geographies, including Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, USA and Hong Kong. My association with Canon India started in the year 2012 and as Ifulfill my duties here, my responsibilities encompass, managing the company to reach higher levels in the country and create a more significant share of voice in the overall Canon family. My profound tenure in the company has given me a profound understanding and appreciation of the brand’s DNA and vision.

Please tell us in brief about the company, mentioning Solution/ Product Offerings/Business.

Canon leads the helm of innovation in India with our expansive portfolio catering to the imaging industry. Having completed 20 years of its journey in the country last year, our company has emerged as a people’s organization, committed to its employees, customers, partners and the community.

I take pride in leading an organization, which is committed to ensure the progress of all associated with it, as we lead the way for next level innovations embedded in each of our device.

We offer a comprehensive array of solutions in the imaging domain with over 200 sophisticated and contemporary digital imaging products in the country. Our product portfolio, includes copier MFDs, Managed Document Services, Inkjet and Laser printers, Document and Cheque Scanners, DSLR’s, Cinematic Imaging Products, catering to the multiple market segments of consumers, SME, B2B, Commercial, Government & PSUs, among others.

Our expansive input to output product portfolio is complimented with our robust service network. Our nimble service organization team continuously tracks changes in customer expectations and accordingly delivers as per customer’s requirements. We have completed twenty years in the country this year and I am proud to share that we still have our partners and customers, with whom we had commenced this journey.

What is your vision for the company?

With everlasting support of our employees, partners and our commitment towards the community, we have attained a strong leadership positioning in the Indian imaging industry. Two glorious decades of our journey in the country, has reaffirmed our commitment, charting our next phase of growth, called the ‘Vision 2020’. With a commitment to grow at a steady pace year on year, we will focus on our retail footprint and on growth across all businesses to achieve double digit growth each year. We aim to penetrate the country further with our offerings, augment the photography culture in India and introduce technological advancements across business and consumer products. By 2020 we envision to reach revenue of INR 3,500 crore. We are also expanding our product portfolio in the country, with the industrial equipments including the medical and the surveillance industry.

On the other hand, apart from the products and services, we are also committed towards ensuring that our organization is recognized as a responsible corporate across the country. I am personally dedicated to ensure that we share our success and growth with the community we operate in. Our corporate social responsibility endeavors are focused in this supporting the growth of our surrounding communities.

What is that one key aspect that demonstrates uniqueness of Canon in the industry?

From input of images to output, we at Canon take pride in taking care of the entire 360 degree offerings, starting with the camera, then image processing to printing of pictures. The commitment, skill and innovation to offer a complete solutions portfolio is what makes Canon’s offerings unique and leading in the market.

What makes Canon India so successful and a force to reckon with?

Two core pillars of our success are ‘Innovation’ and ‘Customer Delight’. At Canon, we lead the helm of innovation, with our expansive portfolio catering to the imaging industry. We are renowned amongst the top patent holders, across the world. Innovation has always been core to our DNA, which is explicit from the two decades of our legacy in the country. If we look back, unlike most of other companies in Asia, we started our journey with B2B and then built B2C over it, which now constitutes as much of a significant share to our business.

Secondly, customer delight being the foremost objective for us, we understand our customers and provide them tailor made solutions that are in line with technological advancements in the industry. We lay great emphasis on establishing lifetime relationship with the customers. We believe that while it is good to grow our customer base and achieve sales target, what helps a company’s growth is it’s connect and relationship with its customers that evolves over a period of time. Hence, our success is also driven by factors that influence the dynamics of a company’s relationship with our existing and potential customers.

What are some of the initiatives that make Canon a great place to work at?

Our employees are our biggest assets; we envision continuing progress towards our ‘Vision 2020’ with the same manpower year on year. We want to invest on our people and support their growth parallel to the growth of the organization. To strengthen connect with our employees spread across various geographies; we use several practices. For example, I address all the employees every month in an open house, on important business goals and directions. “Frankly Speaking” is my blog where I share my personal experiences and insights. Employees are encouraged to share their thoughts as well. Our internal newsletters are an important medium to share information, celebrate milestones and achievements.

Constantly engaging and evolving our employees at Canon India, we are also mindful of introducing initiatives and policies, which would eradicate any discrimination. With the support of our HR team, we have and continue to introduce an array of policies and initiatives that bring women to the forefront of decision making. One of the key platforms in this endeavor is WE@Canon, which stands for Women Empowerment, where the senior women leaders are my advisors to support initiatives that can bring positive change in the organization’s gender ratio.

Organizations which have a workforce that understands and adapts to the new emerging trends are the one that succeed in the long run. Hence, today’s digitized organizations must design and adapt to change, dynamism and innovation through technology. My team of skilled HR professionals is weaving these changing dynamics in our work culture, across all geographies.Some of our solutions include iCan; sales force automation and customer management portal, Sensei; online learning app and product guide for all Canon employees and Excellence One; a one-stop shop for information on all policies, processes and guidelines for Canon employees.

How do you feel about your organization investing diligently in CSR?

I am glad to witness that social responsibility flows in the fabric of Canon India, across all departments and as a responsible corporate; we are proud to actively contribute to the society within the areas of eye care, education, environment and empowerment. We want everyone, from our Employees, Customers and Partners to take pride in being connected with us, and wish to be a company which is respected by people for its commitment towards the sustainable development of mankind.

I believe, social endeavors require the right sentiments for leaving a long lasting impact on the community. Canon employees across the country, frequently engage with children in our adopted and SOS villages. We call this engagement, ‘Canon Involve’, where Canonites get involved in the development of the community. I regularly encourage the staff to continue this noble endeavor. Our employees educate the students on the importance of health, hygiene and other important aspects of learning which would contribute to their growth. Fun activities like cricket, football tournaments are organized for ensuring overall development of the children.

As a leader, what are some of the learning you would like to share with other entrepreneurs?

In my journey from a trainee to a CEO, I have always focused on doing my best, and kept my focus on learning and improving. I have had my share of failures and flaws during the journey, but the learner in me never gave up. And I believe it holds true for everyone. Hence, one learning I would like to share with my fellow entrepreneurs is that one must keep the child in them alive, learn from their mistakes and continue progressing in life.

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