By @SimonCocking

Interesting interview with Philip Brady, Director – Head of Canon Ireland

Your background briefly?

My background is quite varied, I started out in the chemical industry straight after leaving the car industry, then went to work for Xerox, then Dell. I moved to Canon Ireland in 2003 and am now the Director-Head of Canon Ireland.

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What developments were you excited about at the Canon Paris Expo?

For me, there are three developments that are particularly exciting for Canon

3D printing: The opportunities for 3D are almost endless so this is the one that excites me most. 3D will enable cheaper production through removal of assembly costs and prototyping. For example, outside of prototyping, we’re seeing architects using the technology for client and concept models in addition to full model printing while we’ve also seen universities using the technology for fashion, food production, fine art, jewellery, medical, chemistry and physics-related purposes.  We believe it will change how design and manufacturing works. We predict this technology will see a huge change in innovative design, via the use of new materials and easy customisation.

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Cloud and software as a service: A lot has been written about the cloud and computing, and it is a broad subject. In terms of Canon, I would see it as enabling us to manage the image from lens to invoice. It will bring some key advantages to us, such as:

Cutting costs, improving traceability and boosting efficiency which will increase customer retention, give a competitive advantage and inject agility in the organisation.

Automating time-soaking processes, Cloud can cut time by automating processes such as invoicing, receipts and validation.

Have a single and scalable solutions platform that grows as customer’s needs change, from print management through to process optimisation and digital transformation. That will change things massively in the print industry

One in particular that interests me is UniFLOW Online: It is a single solutions platform for managing print delivered through the Cloud. Through investments in cloud solutions, Canon are able to provide their customers with lower cost, higher value-add cloud solutions for printing and managing documents that are easier to adopt and to adapt as business needs change.

Technological innovators:

Canon provides consultancy services to help customers in their digital transformation. We will keep the pressure on to be innovative industry leaders. Canon’s investments and acquisitions will ensure consistent levels of innovation and premier products and solutions. Canon has been investing heavily in innovative companies that bring new elements to Canon over the last five years, with acquisitions ranging from IRIS, Milestone, AXIS and Océ. This means that we can now deliver technology that was only available for the largest customers is now available to small businesses. We can enable small business compete with bigger rivals.

In 2013, the Company was granted 3,825 patents in the United States, placing it third among all corporations. Canon was ranked 35th in Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands 2013 survey and 26th in Interbrand’s Best Global Green Brands 2014 survey

The increase in smart phone cameras creates a wider pool of photographers. How do you aim to inspire smartphone users to use Canon?

Of course the ubiquitous use of smart phones as a camera has had both a positive and negative effect on our camera sales.  For basic snaps and everyday use people will now use their camera phone however it does increase the pool of photographers. Many of them are migrating to using DSLR or high end Bridge cameras which will give them high quality images that camera phone just cannot produce.  We have seen (and catered to) the rise of the advanced amateur, someone who is very technically savvy and wants to have a camera that captures more sophisticated images.  You will see that more advanced features that would have been on professional camera models featured in the mainstream range of Canon Cameras. If you were to compare a current mainstream camera to one from five years ago, you would see a huge leap in terms of features and innovation and features from the higher professional range of cameras.

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The intelligent security cameras are impressive, accurately calculating a person’s age and gender. How do you balance the analytical potential of near ubiquitous surveillance technology and personal privacy?

From our perspective, the technology underpinning the intelligent security cameras allows the customer to customise how much information and insights they can generate and we go to every length to protect privacy. We also work with our clients to ensure they are fully aware of relevant data privacy regulations around the capture, retention and usage of this data. For us, it is important the client is educated and aware of what information they can capture and ensure they are using and keeping it responsibly. Education and awareness are the best tools to help maintain the balance between surveillance technology and the need to respect personal privacy.

Canon has a good market share in Ireland, and good engagement with Canon users on the ground in Ireland – is this an intentional complementary strategy?

Yes, it is intentional. For us, understanding our customers (be in camera, or print) and their needs informs us as to what services they need. We make this our focus to help us deliver the best possible service. From an Irish perspective, last year, we were the number one photography brand for volume and value. Across the whole camera category – Canon grew its market share from 30% to over 40%. In the DLSR category, we increased market share from 52% to nearly 60% in value. From a print perspective Canon has the broadest portfolio in the market from SOHO right up to production printing, this coupled with our solutions offers the most comprehensive offerings.

But you can never rest on your laurels, in Ireland, we are seeing growth in the following sectors:

Public sector –we are seeing huge demand for document management solutions – particularly in health & local government who are adopting solutions to bring efficiency and compliance.

Graphic Arts – particularly in production & design there has been a big increase in demand for Wide Format and flatbed printers.

Architects – with the recovery in Irish construction, we are seeing more demand

Ireland is on course to be the fastest-growing economy in the euro zone for 2015 with a predicted growth rate of 5%.  Ireland is one of the fastest growing markets for print services and we are aiming for 24% growth in the next three years in Ireland alone. So customer engagement is critical.

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You’re reading Ed Catmull’s book, Creativity Inc. How will you apply those insights into how Canon Ireland is managed?

For me, the key insights I want to bring to Canon Ireland are:

Get Out There –live and breathe the context where your innovation will play out

People Before Ideas – Be fearless in putting together your team, strive for a great team with great potential, not just safety.

Harness Collective Brainpower – Get outside views by inviting people to critique ideas

Be honest – Encourage honest feedback,

Listen to many,  decide alone –  Listen to others, but keep executive control within the team and ultimately with the team leader

Show and Tell –don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share. Show early and show often

Fail early, fail fast, fail fearlessly – Run experiments with low cost, low risk prototypes and mockups to feel for appeal

Seize the opportunity – Don’t fear randomness, embrace it – realise that successful innovation owes a lot to random opportunity and random events

We’re online a lot more, what are your strategies for managing work/life/online/offline?

I think success in managing work/life relies on the following, and is very much my focus

Staff retention – you can only really succeed when you have great employees around you.

Mentor – I always believed in mentors, I have one to this day. They can give you the unvarnished truth or an insight that can make all the difference.

Work Life balance – it is so important to get this balance right, we all need to recharge and live our lives.  I also believe that you should never get too comfortable, if you do, you stop learning and can plateau in terms of your career.


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