Canon India expects to register a turnover of Rs 1,200 crore in 2010 - a 42% growth over 2009. Alok Singh speaks to Kensaku Konishi, president & CEO about the company's plans
Alok Singh (AS): You've had a successful Ipex 2010. How do you rate your performance?
Kensaku Konishi (KK): Ipex has been a huge success. It was busy, and had a real vibrancy which showed it to be a truly international event. The response was very good. Also, we were the sponsors of the India International Day where we invited about 100 key printers and entered into a good relationship with three key printing associations. It was an encouraging factor as there were many offset printers who would like to move into digital arena. This will certainly give us a huge prospect funnel.
AS: Following your acquisition of Océ earlier this year, how is your integration going?
KK: The Canon Team at the headquarter is under discussion with the Océ headquarter at this point of time. We appreciate and respect the product line that Océ has and are very excited to work together with them in a synergised manner to develop the market. However, no substantial plans have been drawn up or fixed yet.
AS: There are a number of players in the digital print industry. Do you believe the industry can continue to sustain the number of players currently involved?
KK: Yes, because there are various segments in the digital industry. Each segment has different needs and hence require different approach altogether. Everyone cannot gauge or spend equal time and money everywhere. It is the big companies like Canon which can actually provide the overall product portfolio under one roof and we foresee that such players will sustain themselves in the market in future.
AS: Quite clearly you spend a lot of time travelling across the length and breadth of India. What have you gained from your customers during these travels?
KK: The Indian market is big and diverse and is changing day by day. To ensure a remarkable reach in the tier-B and C cities, we have started the Canon ImageExpress project, which will cover these cities in 16 states. We have experienced that we are able to sell not only entry level products, but mid- and high-end products as well in these cities. Therefore, we feel that we need to have closer interaction with our customers and should be able to demonstrate our products through direct dialogue to our end-users in these cities.
AS: Canon is seeing a lot of action in the tier-B and tier-C cities in India. What are your goals for these cities?
KK: As I mentioned earlier, we feel that tier-B and C cities have great potential and opportunity for us. Canon has already deployed more than 50 machines on the field in the PGA segment, which includes these cities. Needless to mention that professional support is the most important thing for PGA machines and professional customers. Therefore, we are considering this, and aggressively expanding our visibility in these cities.
AS: You have identified areas of potential growth for the company. Which project has been the most satisfying?
KK: We are the first company in our industry to open model showrooms showcasing the entire line of Canon products including production and graphic arts products. These cater to professionals as well as end-users in a unique touch and play environment.
AS: A lot of pundits are saying that print will be a part of IT operations – and this will be the next step in the print industry's evolution. Your views.
KK: At Canon we believe that the printer is not simply an output device for IT operations. Our end-users request and demand how they can control documents irrespective of whether these are paper or electronic. If we see the situation from this point of view, multi-function devices would play the main role as an input, archiving and output device.
AS: How do you achieve this?
KK: We offer total solutions including hardware, applications, internet connectivity, security and service, which will help to reduce the cost of ownership drastically along with improving efficiency and strengthening security.
AS: It's difficult to predict the future, but based on your knowledge, do you think print will be around for another 100 years?
KK: When a person tries to do a calculation from mathematics, they need a pen and paper and thought. This way information can be put down and accessed in the least possible time. Paper is the safest media and can be retained for a long period of time. Imagine, how your digital data can be seen – and what kind of device and application will exist 100 years from now. No one can answer that question.
A marked characteristic which you look for when you visit a print customer?
Customers who appreciate value-addition through print service.
The quality you most like on the shopfloor of a print firm?
The shopfloor of a company represents the quality of their print job and service. Therefore, tidiness as well as a warm atmosphere, will increase the credibility of their job.
What do you value during a sale?
We endeavour to provide solution and value-added applications to the customers. For example, we are very keen to improve their efficiency, reduce total costs and provide higher quality.
What is your most favourite printing word?
What is your favourite printing colour?
Clean, clear blue sky.
What is it your favourite print job?
A handy photobook.
If Johannes Gutenberg appeared in the Canon showroom, how will you introduce an Imagepress to him?
I will say, thank you for your invention of printing. The time printing originated in medieval Europe, it was black and white. Now we enjoy a rich palette of colour print in colourful India.
With the little master
Konishi with Sachin Tendulkar: Inaugurating the Canon showroom at the Atria Mall in Mumbai. Tendulkar has been Canon's brand ambassador for over three years.
In an exclusive tete-a-tete with Noel D'cunha of PrintWeek India Tendulkar reminisced that his favourite print job was: "The print of my first photograph which was shot by a friend of mine when I was five year old with a cricket bat in my hand is the best print job in the world."
When asked why so? He smiled: "I still end up seeing that photo printed on so many occasions. There are innumerable memories attached to that moment."
Then in a moment of rare candour he said: "These days all I am trying to do is to click a few precious moments spent with my children on my Canon camera, print it and share it with my family."
Other Q&A sessions with:
Mehul Desai of Mail Order Solutions
Ashok Nerker of Unique Photo Offset
Pratap Kamat of Uma Offset
Ashwani Bharadwaj of Micro Inks
Pranav Parikh of TechNova
Sanat Shah of Manugraph
K C Sanjeev of Welbound Worldwide
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