by Amy Weiss
It’s now been about a year and a half since Canon announced its One Canon initiative, designed to strengthen its B2B divisions and reinforce partnerships with its dealers. The February 2018 two-day press and analyst event in Hollywood, Florida, was the second such event held since that announcement, and we were able to see how the One Canon vision is progressing.
If we can call two years a trend, then the trend has been for Canon to make some major announcements about its executives prior to One Canon. This year, promotions included former President and CEO Toyo Kuwamura, who is now Chairman and CEO; Peter Kowalczuk, promoted from executive vice president and general manager to president of Canon Solutions America; and Francis McMahon, promoted from vice president to executive vice president, Production Print Solutions of Canon Solutions America. Also announced were two retirements: James Sharp and Mal Baboyian, both of whom retired after 30 years of service with Canon.
One Canon came on the heels of another high note for Canon as well — the release of its fourth-quarter and fiscal-year 2017 financials, which were solid, showing sales and profit growth for the first time in four years. This announcement was reiterated by Kuwamura during the opening session of One Canon, where he noted that the $36.4 billion in sales for the year marked 19.9 percent growth, and the Americas, which represents 27 percent of business for the company, saw 14.9 percent growth.
While office equipment remains critically important to Canon, the company has expanded into numerous other areas of technology, including the newly renamed Canon Medical Systems, which was the medical group acquired from Toshiba, as well as sensors, satellites and high-end video.
But let’s get back to the main areas of interest for the imaging channel, which are the many varieties of office and production print. The 2018 imageRUNNER ADVANCE models — not-so-simply called “the third-generation imageRUNNER ADVANCE 2nd edition” — will be the game changer now and in 2020 and beyond, said Kuwamura. Designed to support what Canon calls the “Office of the Future,” the devices offer a heavy focus on security (an area of importance for Canon, as it is for most companies these days) and cloud connectivity, as well as offering specialized workflows for vertical markets and keeping pace with advancements in the IoT and AI.
Continuing the focus on the print side, newly named EVP of Production Print Francis McMahon talked about the 2017 business and accomplishments in that area. Some of those accomplishments included achieving 106 percent of budget for revenue, 104 percent for profit. Two product lines were responsible: Canon saw 22 percent growth in ColorStreams with 84 engines placed into the marketplace, and 52 percent growth in the i300. He also noted that 2017 finally saw the transition to color, with 53 percent of pages printed by customers in color. “The industry is very healthy,” McMahon affirmed.
Another interesting development was the newly formed Global Managed Services (GMS) group, headed by John Reilly. Epitomizing One Canon, the group brings together the Global Services Division (GSD) of BISG and the Enterprise Managed Services Division (EMSD) of CSA (are you keeping track of these acronyms? Because there’s going to be a quiz later. I’m not kidding). GMS establishes a One Canon major account organization that allows Canon to add on adjacent markets. Reilly admitted that whether you call the MFP side “old,” “mature” or “declining,” Canon’s Fortune 1000 market share for MFPs is 8 percent — “playing defense” he called it. “How do we change that?” They looked across the aisle to Canon’s enterprise managed services, which has grown 25 percent over the last five years. What kind of synergies could be created by putting them together, he asked. They decided to find out, putting the two together as GMS under CSA.
Meanwhile, Mason Olds, SVP and GM of BISG provided an overview on the dealer side. In addition to discussing the dealer channel’s numbers (up 5 percent last year) he brought up dealer Ryan Jones of American Business Machines and his customer, Bordon Newman of Editorial Renuevo, who discussed the game changer that Uniflow has been for them, allowing them to compete in large opportunities, as well as how the Océ 6250 has helped Newman in his business of educational printing.
Valerie Belli, VP of the enterprise managed services division, brought another educational partner to discuss success in higher education (last year she brought us Notre Dame and the story of Touchdown Jesus). This year it was Mount Ida College discussing the One Canon alliance and how it has made a difference for this smaller, private college.
For the entertainment portion of the event, we were treated to a keynote presentation by motivational speaker and former Olympic ski racer Cary Mullen (pictured above), and then a dinner at which we were seated at Olympic-themed tables and participated in a game of Canon and Olympics trivia. This is where the acronyms come into play — some of the questions were about the Olympics. Some were about Canon. I’m not going to call anyone out — but let me tell you, if you think you have a hard time remembering what all the Canon acronyms stand for, you are not alone. But in the spirit of One Canon we (at the India table) teamed up with Sweden at the next table and celebrated partnership, collaboration and integration over drinks in blinking light-up cups (in Canon red, of course).
There were not a lot of huge announcements at One Canon, and not a lot of splashy showmanship. When we noted that Canon might almost be considered boring when you consider some of the drama going on at other OEMs (Mergers and acquisitions! Name calling! Shareholder drama!) the executive we mentioned it to happily agreed. There’s something to be said for things not being too exciting – you know the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”
That’s not to say Canon has nothing going on — they remain one of the top five patent holders in the United States, a ranking they’ve held for 32 years running now. Not all of those patents are print related, of course, but print remains important — Canon would like to be the last man standing on the print side of things. But they’re not doing that by standing still or putting all their investments into print. While there weren’t any big product rollouts like last year’s unveiling of the Océ Colorado 1640, there were some quieter but equally interesting announcements, such as the relationship with data security firm Vera that will include integration into the scanning feature on Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCEs.
“Integration” might be a good word for Canon — integrating within itself as One Canon, as well as integrating solutions into its devices, working with solutions such as Vera, FORZA, Nuance, Uniflow and more to create a hardware solution powered by its integrated software, and packaging it together to create automated workflows specialized for its customers, both office and commercial. Canon appears to have its feet on solid ground as it works to both innovate and integrate as it looks toward the future.