Someone in Canon’s European corporate communications must be getting a big pat on the back for a nice article in the Financial Times on June 17. I had noted that Canon had quietly moved its European headquarters back to the UK from the Netherlands recently and, unusually for a Japanese company, all four of its Canon Europe directors are Europeans.
I did not know about the IBM style move to a more solutions and services business – subscriptions, consultancy and outsourcing – as outlined in the FT article. Apparently Canon headquarters has given each of its regional headquarters autonomy to tailor these services to their local markets – a bold move for a Japanese company if true.
“it’s important you develop [software solutions and services] close to the consumer” says Rokus van Iperen, the President and CEO of Canon Europe. But the question of whether Canon can emulate the profit margins IBM gets from a US HQ imposed cookie cutter approach to its business with a Japanese focus on customer and customisation is something which could cause other Japanese IT services companies such as Fujitsu or NEC to raise a weary eyebrow or two.
Canon is in the top ten of The Reputation Institute’s RepTrak survey of the world’s most reputable brands, however, an obstacle to their move into B2B services could be that Canon is bracketed by the Institute with LEGO as having a relatively more fragile reputation, because their strong emotional appeal is not backed up with as strong a rational perception.
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