Roman TROEDTHANDL,
Managing Director, Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA)

Canon Inc., one of the world’s favourite imaging solutions companies is steadily growing in relevance as consumers grow more obsessed with the brand’s offerings. The relevance is even more pronounced on

the African continent where it established presence 50 years ago. With the continued change in the region, especially in camera segment, Canon redefined it competitiveness as it metamorphoses into a brand for the millennials —by coexisting with smartphones whilst embracing the new imaging world.

In the face of the obvious market challenges, Canon has created more direct capabilities in order to be closer to consumers. from within, Canon hopes to transit from a product-centric business to a consumer-centric one. And as customers want the world to be simple, it finds the need to make its products and services more simple to engage with. To this end, Canon’s offerings are now focused around “shoot, remember, share” .

With this innovative strategy , Canon have built a capability that enables consumers to talk about the brand, not just as visual storytelling one, but as one that helps them tell the stories they need to tell. Canon’s long history of innovation has earned it a leadership position in copiers, laser and ink-jet printers, fax machines, scanners, multi function devices, film-based and digital cameras, and camcorders segment of the market.

With Kyosei , the company’s corporate philosophy of “Living and working together for the common good, Canon is consistently doing its part by fostering good relations, not only with customers and communities in which it operates, but with nations and environment. And for this reason, its goal, to contribute to the prosperity of the world and the happiness of humanity, through its sterling “kyosei” philiosophy, is actively on course.

What’s Canon’s history in Africa?

Canon has always been operating in Africa and through a network of distributers and partners for more than 50 years. In 2015 we took the strategic decision of forming Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) in order to enhance Canon’s business within the Africa region – by strengthening Canon’s in-country presence and focus.

The formation of CCNA is a demonstration of Canon’s commitment to operating closer to its customers and meeting their demands in the rapidly evolving African market. Our growth in all our markets including Africa is based on our vision of enriching lives and businesses through imaging experiences.

What’s the extent of Canon’s investments and developments in Africa?

Driven by our Canon philosophy of “KYOSEI”’ and global strategy, we are creating new value for our customers through our R&D prowess, proactive acquisitions and in-country operation.

In Africa, the formation of Canon Central and North Africa in 2015 was a strategic step that aimed to enhance Canon’s business within the Africa region– by strengthening Canon’s in-country presence and focus.

We opened local offices in key African countries; such as Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, which engages in marketing, and Service of Canon Products, adding value through Services and Solutions and contribute to the countries & society by bringing knowhow, productivity, efficiency, employment, and skills with high standards.

As part of our investment strategy we are enhancing the user experience by introducing branding and visibility, showrooms, in-store merchandisers, sponsorships and marketing campaigns. In the past months we have opened showrooms in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Kenya and Nigeria aiming at enhancing customers accessibility to Canon and bringing business value to our partners.

How important is Africa to Canon’s global operations?

Canon Europe Middle East and Africa represents around 27% of Canon global operations business volume. Canon Central and North Africa contributes one fifth of Canon Europe Emerging Markets’ business volume. We represent multiple markets of varied sizes in the Africa region and we are fully committed to growing our share across these markets.

Canon’s brand value and the company’s passion for innovation and quality, and a genuine commitment to social and environmental causes are among the key factors that have helped increase the popularity of the Canon brand across different markets in Africa.

How has Canondifferentiated itself from competitors in terms of its service and support structure?

Customer Satisfaction has always been at the core of Canon business strategy; being ready with knowledge capabilities and support infrastructure was the key step before we start selling.

For this very reason we have invested in a highly skilled and customer centric Service team for CCNA both centrally and in-country

We strongly believe, a strong Service capability with our partners will be a win-win for our Customers, Partners and Canon. In this aspect we are working strongly towards providing pro-active support to our Customer by utilizing the Remote Service capabilities available in our products and solutions.

Canon Training and development programme ensures we have Canon Trained and Certified professionals and Engineers available across the CCNA region to take care of our Customer needs by being closer to them.

We are constantly working to be the number one choice of our customers by listening to them and developing our strategies and actions with Customer Satisfaction at the core.

What are your thoughts on how the tech industry in Africa is performing?

Technology is playing an increasingly significant role as Africa transitions to the mainstream of the global economy, with the emergence of an IT ecosystem – a growing community of entrepreneurs, tech ventures and innovation centres merging from country to country. There is an existence of roughly 200 African innovation hubs, 3,500 new tech-related ventures, and $1 billion in venture capital (VC) to a pan-African movement of start-up entrepreneurs.

Increasingly, Nigeria is becoming a centre for big tech investment and commercially oriented start-ups. Whatever the country’s challenges, investors and entrepreneurs are attracted by the prospect of scaling applications to Africa’s largest population and economy.

Nigeria is a focus for start-up activity. Facebook, Netflix and SAP have recently expanded in Africa. And Silicon Valley investment is funnelling into ventures from South Africa to Kenya.

From Nigeria to Kenya, and Rwanda to Ghana, tech innovation is starting to influence multiple sectors:energy, agriculture, banking,healthcare,entertainment, transport and fashion. Technology in Africa has the potential to create more impact faster than anywhere previously in the world.

How is Canon coping with chaos in the market place since the emergence of smart phone cameras?

The shifting market place presents huge opportunities for us and we believe that every image should have a connection with Canon. The shift in the consumer camera market has been well documented, but we are continuing to perform well and maintain and increase our market share year on year. People’s interest in photography and videography has never been higher. The explosion in popularity for photography continues to reach new heights. InfoTrends has estimated that over 275 billion images have been captured, an increase of 41 billion compared with 2014.

The explosion in popularity for photography continues to reach new heights. Instagram has recently hit 400 million users and become larger than Twitter. Sites like Facebook are becoming much more image led. What these trends show us is that people all over the world are becoming more passionate about communicating through powerful images and videos.

How has that changed your strategy for growth?

As experts in imaging we are developing for the future and continuing to challenge industry conventions by bringing to market new products, technologies and digital services that offer consumers the best imaging experiences and we have identified new paths for business growth. Firstly by exploring and entering new markets, and secondly by expanding our range of digitally enabled, value added solutions and services. The acquisition of Lifecake and Kite is a prime example of how we are changing as a company, and acting more like a start up to allow us to acquire new expertise and capabilities and bring these to consumers quickly.

As experts in imaging we believe it’s our role to create powerful tools that offer consumers the best possible experience. We are the only brand who can offer an end-to-end ecosystem of imaging products and services, all of which are specifically designed to support people through every stage of their imaging journey, and across all of the devices they use to capture their memories on. We enable people to record their experiences and relive them in the best quality. We exist to help people capture and remember their photos, but also to become better photographers whilst creating memories.

We expect 20% growth in our business coming from value added solutions and services. This is why CCNA’s strategy is focused upon expanding our presence in our target markets across the region; we believe this will help us capitalise on market opportunities, as we will be closer to our customers and able to provide high-quality, customised service.

Where do smartphone cameras still fall short, compared with dedicated point-and-shoot models?

There’s no denying that smartphones have become established as the default ‘entry-level’ camera. But what we’re seeing is that there are still many instances where people want the reassurance of a high-quality imaging experience.

Our camera range caters for all capability levels, but they all share one thing – they give the user the confidence that they can capture the shot they want. They offer advanced features, such as powerful optical zooms, superfast continuous shooting and superior low light capabilities that deliver high quality photos. You cannot underestimate how important this quality is for customers, and we’re merging it with integrated connectivity to enable easy sharing to offer consumers the best possible all round imaging experience.

When you create cameras at Canon, what are the competitive cameras that you benchmark against?

We do not comment on our competitors’ business, but acknowledge that we have significant rivals across our different business areas.

The Canon brand is strong and we are fully focused on maintaining our position as a world leader in imaging. We will continue to create products and services based upon the most advanced imaging technologies, for both our core markets and the new markets we are entering.

If Canon could go back to the beginning of the process is there anything it would do differently?

We would absolutely do the same! The step to invest in an entity that focuses on Africa region in 2015, was a strategic step to get closer to our partners and customers in the Africa region. By investing in opening local offices, hiring local people to be present in the countries, investing in opening new showrooms and enhancing our brand visibility, has all paid off and driven the growth targets we set for ourselves! Every feedback we get from partners, customers and our employees reinforces that we are on the right path to achieve even greater success in the future!

How has Canon maintained its heritage and history and prestige against the commercial side?

Canon believes that a genuinely global company must foster good relations not only with its customers and the communities in which it operates, but also with all people and the environment. As a socially responsible and environmentally conscious company, Canon constantly seeks to establish meaningful partnerships as part of a long-term commitment to bringing the world closer to “kyosei,” our corporate philosophy which embodies the ideal of living and working together for the common good.

What is important for Canon’s future?

We will continue to invest in R&D, which remains central to Canon’s global growth plans.

We are strongly committed to sustain our aggressive R&D programme to develop and introduce a much wider array of technology solutions, while incorporating new product features and specifications that meet our customers’ changing needs. Canon is steadily expanding its globalisation and business diversification programs as we look to expand our worldwide presence and develop new products that cater to emerging customer demands.

CCNA will continue to adopt its “closer to customers” strategy, as this will enable us to better understand any shift in consumer attitude and subsequently allow us to deliver the right products and value-added services.

In the Africa region, our mission is to work closely with our partners to become a true value-added sales and service company and to achieve No.1 position in all markets by sustaining market share growth and grow market size.

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