Data, Workflow, and Production Dominate Big Six Discussions
Above: Finding Zen with Scott Cullen at a temple in Kyoto
Scott Cullen and Frank Cannata enjoy the garden view in Kyoto.
We are so pleased to be publishing our first-ever SIP (special-interest publication) as a Special Bonus Issue, exclusively sponsored by GreatAmerica Financial Services. Our 10-day trip was action-packed with meetings with our Big Six manufacturing partners””Konica Minolta, Canon, Ricoh, Toshiba TEC, Sharp, and Kyocera””all in an effort to return home to provide our readers with insight into their thinking and plans for the future.
Looking at common threads across the information shared during our visits, there were several. Each manufacturer formally recognizes the business of traditional document printing is contracting and each is innovating aggressively to compensate for that decline. Virtually all the manufacturers recognize the MFP needs to evolve in a major way to remain relevant, and any technology they are developing is designed to further differentiate them and make them more efficient and productive.
At the same time, unsurprisingly, all companies are looking to firmly establish themselves in the top three in market share, and if they’re not already in those top three spots, they’re looking to take share. Efforts to dominate the MFP market remain in play.
Many of them are also planning to leverage data through the MFP and other smart devices to improve business processes. The emphasis on big data and IT-related services and connectivity was notable, as were the discussions of increased use of inkjet, both in big iron downstream to MFPs.
All companies are working toward solutions designed to improve office and workflow efficiency. Two major focuses were developing and scaling the “smart office” and office output efficiency, as well as production and highend print.
On a personal note, we were also pleased to hear that many of the executives of our Big Six manufacturers are reading The Cannata Report. Given their familiarity with our content, there was already a strong foundation of trust when we walked in the door, as they do understand our commitment to the independent dealer community and in delivering high-quality content for our readers.
This was my second time visiting Japan, following my initial trip with my father, Frank Cannata, in 2014. In the four years since our last visit, it was clear our relationships with these Big Six companies have evolved and strengthened. During both trips, each of the companies graciously extended themselves, with several going as far as to prepare detailed presentations and in-depth facility tours. The manufacturers’ representatives were quite gracious with their hospitality, with many hosting us at some of Japan’s best and world-renowned restaurants for elegant lunches and dinners, or in some cases, both.
However, during this trip, the companies were even more open than they had been in 2014, meaning there was a greater level of exchange of information and ideas between us and each respective company. Most of our hosts spent considerable time and energy preparing comprehensive presentations and/or packaged relevant agenda items. During both trips, we had the opportunity to meet with several members of each manufacturer’s team, but this time around, were joined by a minimum of four, five, six, or more members of an executive team””and in the case of Sharp, seemingly the entire team.
The Japanese manufacturer executives had even more questions for us and were even more inclined to participate in an open dialogue. Most importantly, many appeared interested and willing to continue the conversation well after we had left the country and returned back to the United States. Typically in Japan, when you make the effort to travel there, many companies will take the time to truly engage and share as much information as possible out of respect for a guest’s time, effort, and cost to travel there. However, once the meeting breaks, and the parties return to their day-to-day business, Japanese companies tend to defer questions and request for information back to their regional headquarters, and for us, that means the U.S.
Reflecting on this most recent experience, we can see the positive impacts of globalization and increased connectivity that have helped us strengthen our bonds with the manufacturers to share information, especially pertaining to trends in the dealer channel across the U.S. With email, file sharing through the cloud, and social media, there are very few hurdles to impede a robust line of communication between the U.S. and Japan.
Many of the executives fondly remembered our 2014 visit, and this time, we encountered encouragement to return to Japan more frequently, something neither Frank nor I have experienced before. While we sincerely appreciate the generous invitations, we intend to continue spacing our trips out enough to ensure we return to you, our readers, with truly fresh and new information.
A notable increase in diversity was another point of difference in comparison to our last trip. There seemed to be a conscious effort to address this issue, particularly pertaining to elevating women in the workplace. For example, Konica Minolta CEO Shoei Yamana spent a significant amount of time over our lunch speaking to the importance of diversity and hiring more women. Since we last met in 2014, Sharp indeed had brought in Ayumi Toshinaga, a young woman whom we found very impressive in terms of her job title, function, and performance. Upon our return, we circled back Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America’s Mike Marusic and he confirmed our initial impressions of this up and-coming influencer. You’ll find a special edition Young Influencer profile of Toshinaga on page 44.
In planning our 2018 trip to Japan to meet with our esteemed manufacturer partners, we greatly relied on the strong partnerships we have here in the United States. Canon’s Toyo Kuwamura (now retired) and Hiro Imamura; Konica Minolta’s Rick Taylor; Kyocera’s Yukio Ikeda and Danielle Wolowitz; Ricoh’s Jim Coriddi; Sharp’s Mike Marusic; and Toshiba’s Scott Maccabe were each highly instrumental in making sure we were meeting with the right people to gain the most amount of information in our short time on the ground. It is not an understatement to say that our meetings with the Big Six manufacturers would not have been possible without their fervent assistance in scheduling this trip and all of the business meetings it entailed.
We also extend our deepest gratitude to GreatAmerica, which sponsored our media brand’s endeavors pertaining to our visit to Japan””from the costs of our trip to the development and publication of all related content. Without GreatAmerica’s support, we would neither have been to publish as much content nor publish this bonus special issue publication at no additional charge to our audience.
We hope you enjoy this special edition of The Cannata Report. If you have any questions about the issue, or are interested in having us present our learnings to you in more depth within your organization, to your customers, or in an independent setting, please contact me at email@example.com.
Charles J. Cannata (CJ)
Executive Vice President/Publisher
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