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  • Canon Doubles Down on One

    By Noel Ward, Editor @ Large

    Long Island was humid. Hot. And flying in from the Maritimes took some time. But for a Canon event the effort is always worthwhile. Here’s a short take.

    Two or three times a year Canon updates journalists and analysts on how the company is moving forward, the new products being rolled out and how it is positioning itself in a changing marketplace. And so it was in early August when about 30 of us showed up at Canon USA headquarters in Melville, New York to hear some of the latest details and to get a fresh sense of the company’s tagline, “See Impossible.”

    We got a fair bit of detail on some of the latest machinery and software, but the bigger piece on this trip was a new go-to-market strategy called One Canon. According to Canon, this is a unifying architecture that puts the company’s multiple business units under one roof and shifts the company’s operations from a product-driven strategy to a customer driven one.

    One Canon
    The idea, said executive vice president Toyo Kuwamura, is to provide a holistic solution for the needs of a highly diverse range of customers. One Canon makes Mr. Kuwamura the point guy all of Canon’s Business Imaging Solutions Group (BISG), which now encompasses Canon Financial Services, Canon USA (the Melville part), Canon Solutions America (the ex-Océ part) and Canon Information and Imaging Solutions (the software part).

    This makes a lot of sense, given the vastness of Canon’s US operations. For example, a single Canon customer may rely on a mix of monochrome and color document printers, large format devices, software for each, require a wide range of technical support, as well as access to leasing and other financial support services. Previously, all these were provided independently. Now, or at least when the One Canon initiative is fully integrated over the next few months, a customer may still have more than one person to call regarding an issue, but the process should be smoother and increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.

    The print guys
    For print providers the new architecture keeps or places some of Canon’s most seasoned execs in key positions. For example, the big production presses and large format printers that still carry the Océ brand are under the aegis of Mal Baboyian and Francis McMahon, with Rob Reddy and Sal Sheikh continuing to head up the large format segment. Meanwhile, Hiro Imamura and Dennis Amorosano will be making sure the software behind the machines is tuned to support market needs for productivity and efficiency. In all these roles, both internally to Canon and externally to customers, experience and market understanding both matter.

    Then, to close the loop on sales, SVP and General Manager Mason Olds will be leading the sales organization with the goal of providing a one-to-one approach with each customer and partner. On a related note outside of this meeting, other Canon sources have indicated that the company is serious about focusing on real world market needs. A host of sales and marketing support collateral materials I’ve seen recently are tightly focused on making sure both sales reps and customers have the insights they need to make informed decisions. After all, the more any print provider knows, the better equipped they are to make a sound decision about what software and equipment to buy.

    So far, customers who have experienced the earliest efforts of One Canon are finding the one-to-one approach works well. Both RSM, a large accounting/auditing firm, and Flo-Tech, a leading managed print services company, have found measurable advantages in the initial implementations of One Canon, as well as in the larger relationships their respective companies have with Canon. I expect we’ll hear more about these and other firms as the initiative is fully implemented.

    Productive products
    On the product side we heard about the initial success of Canon’s C10000/C8000 color printers. Launched last fall, Canon says these boxes are in high demand and have been displacing competing systems through advantages in both performance and operating costs.

    Also in the mix, much to Canon’s delight, is the VarioPrint i300 cutsheet inkjet press, which seems to have carved out a landmark position in the production print space. Some customers are said to be replacing high-end toner presses with an i300. That no doubt depends on the applications, but it could also indicate a direction for inkjet in the marketplace. On one hand, the success of this device is not too surprising, given that it is the first high-speed cutsheet production inkjet press to reach the market, but being first is no assurance of top-notch performance.

    However, when I talked with Mr. Baboyian of Canon Solutions America he related the experiences of customers Dayton Mailing Services and Access Direct, which claim the i300 is proving to be virtually paper-jam free over the several millions of impressions these companies have run. That alone should appeal to any busy shop. More interesting is that some i300 owners are finding the machine easy enough to operate that they are able use less experienced press-operators than are needed on some toner-based presses, which helps trim operating costs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over time as volumes and job complexity increase.

    Going Deep
    The conference wrapped up with style. Dr. Robert Ballard, the ebullient oceanographer who found the Titanic, the battleship Bismarck, and who has explored parts of every ocean, gave a fascinating talk about his adventures in the sea. While Dr. Ballard’s field is far from office and production and printing he linked much of what he’s found beneath beneath the waves–and how he gets there–to what can be done with digital printing. And that like him, we should all use technology to “See Impossible.”
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