Tyler Suiters:

Hey everybody, I'm with the Consumer Technology Association, I'm Tyler Suiters. We are the owners and the producers of CES, the most influential tech event in the world, and we're here to help you get CES ready. The new all digital show is January 11th through the 14th, 2021, and we're reimagining CES for you. We are supporting what makes CES unique, of course, but we're also enabling you to connect with new global audiences. At CES 2021, you're going to hear from the world's leading tech innovators, right from the comfort and safety of your own home or office. You will see exhibitors who can launch your latest products, you will connect with global brands, the hottest startups, and you can connect with one another. This is where the tech sector comes together every year.

Tyler Suiters:

The all digital experience will be more personalized as an event for you. You will find engaging content, dynamic presentations, captivating imagery, and it's really a new experience for you, giving you a front row seat to discover and see the latest tech. Now, the game changers remain the same, digital health, applications of AI, 5G, vehicle tech, drones, smart cities, resilience, and today, a conversation with one of the iconic exhibitors at CES, Canon. It is a 60 year old company, yes, but it still displays heart, vigor and creativity. This is a long time CES exhibitor that continues to redefine the world of imaging, and Canon was just recently named one of Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies for the year 2020, high accolades indeed.

Tyler Suiters:

Now a little perspective for you. CTA research shows that about three quarters of US adults say they're buying a tech product this holiday season, and that includes a number of products that are on Canon's shelves. So today, a conversation with the president and CEO of Canon USA and a look at what Canon has in store for you, CES and beyond. That's all on this edition of CES Tech Talk. It is a pleasure today to welcome Kevin Ogawa, president and CEO of Canon USA. Kevin, good morning, and thanks so much for joining us today.

Kevin Ogawa:

Hi, good morning, everyone.

Tyler Suiters:

What's a challenging time for you to take over all of the Americas, you started in your position in April of 2020, less than a month after the pandemic was shutting down businesses across the United States. I'd imagine a new job is challenging enough, let alone one under such unusual and difficult circumstances.

Kevin Ogawa:

Yeah. Thank you for your question. Yes, actually I became the president and CEO with effect from the April 1st, but prior to the new assignment actually, in the month of a March, that is a starting point for the pandemic. So although officially I'm not the assigned at the time, but I started the call crisis, the management meeting and the community, then the try to put the highest the priority for the employee safety first. Then we shifted the working style from the office to the work from home, that was such the remote the operation. So we distributed the tons of the laptop, the computers to our employees who are not using the laptop, just the desktop.

Kevin Ogawa:

That is totally different the change of the working style. Yeah, that's very challenging. So some of our staff told me that, "Oh, Kevin, you are so unfortunate," but all the time I am saying, "This is the worst the case, but the tomorrow should be better than the today." So that seemed like kind of the talk.

Tyler Suiters:

Well, I'm curious where you learned that optimism, Kevin, because you have a diverse career at Canon. You've had senior leadership roles in Singapore, in Hong Kong, in China, in Canada, those are some vastly different markets. What are the lessons you take away from those roles and getting to spend so much time in such diverse places across the world?

Kevin Ogawa:

Yeah, actually thanks to such kind of the assignment, I could gain various experience. But baseline is all the time our corporate philosophy, which means in [foreign language 00:05:01] in Japanese. [foreign language 00:05:04] means that all people, regardless of race, religion, or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future. That is our corporate philosophy of Canon, which has the more than 80 years in the history.

Kevin Ogawa:

So I was hoping to various country or region, all the staff is the working together, living together for the common good. So that is the spirit of Canon, so that's why I'm quite happy to gain such the experience, also in the regards, the people. We are working together and the marketing our products to each the market and the Canon brand. That is the great, the company and the great thing with [inaudible 00:06:01] over myself.

Kevin Ogawa:

But to get ready for the Canon [inaudible 00:06:03] the experience, 1983, I became the first marketing trainee who is the working outside of Japan. So first assignment for trainee for me, was the Canada. So the one year, the assignment, I sit down in the older desk, the receiving the phone call from the Canada [inaudible 00:06:30], so on and so forth. But surprisingly, 25 years later I became the president and the CEO of the Canon Canada. It was a nice the assignment as where as in I do appreciate the company of Canon to give me such the wonderful assignment.

Tyler Suiters:

Well, to spend your, essentially, your whole career at Canon and to move from winning a contest as a trainee and going to Canada, and then returning as president and CEO, it's a remarkable trip. Just as you as evolve Kevin, as a leader, clearly Canon has evolved as well. And there's a phrase I know that you say a lot internally within Canon, and that is that products don't matter until people use them. Now, that can be interpreted a number of ways, but how is it that you mean that at Canon when you say that and hear that? The products don't matter until people use them.

Kevin Ogawa:

Canon is the technology company. For example in the past the more than 30 years, we are the top five US patent recipients. So patent means the original technologies. So that the technology create, produce the products and so on and so forth. But the baseline is how to delight our customers, how to solve the problems customer faced. So [inaudible 00:08:17] is the helping that the area, also in our Canon branded product is the helping such kind of area. But all the time we are focusing on the people and what kind of problems and the issues we have to solve by our technologies. So that's the point.

Tyler Suiters:

So that sounds like it then brings in your philosophy one more time, Kevin, of, as you indicated earlier, [foreign language 00:08:50], giving back, thinking holistically about the people involved. Does that extend then to your products and your philosophy in the marketplace? And tech for good is one way to phrase it. I think helping make the world a better place is another example.

Kevin Ogawa:

So, as I said we are the technology company. Sometimes the R&D is the mostly the focus, the area, but core is all the time people, delighting customers, regardless the people, religion, culture. Baseline is in the [foreign language 00:09:29], right? So how can we harmonize our technologies to the people? So that is the core and the heart of in the Canon. And our sales company, the marketing company, like the Canon USA, we are trying to solve new the issues in the office at home or the industrial area and so on and so forth. But baseline is technology, but the most important thing is the people. So based on the [foreign language 00:10:03] philosophy.

Tyler Suiters:

Interesting. Well, I think that extends to your customers as well, clearly in the marketplace, when you look at how quickly cannon reacted and pivoted to the circumstances of the pandemic. Again, this was right about the time when you were starting here in the US, but you also launched some key new products during that time. So how did you identify the need and how did you react and move so quickly to deliver what the customers needed?

Kevin Ogawa:

So all of the challenges means the opportunities, even the pandemic. Of course the economy getting worse and worse that the very difficult and challenging time we face all over the world. But for example, okay, mirrorless camera, or EOS cameras, such as the [inaudible 00:11:01] or mirrorless camera, used to be just to taking a photo and the video when we the travel and so on and so forth. But nowadays, the teleworking or the work from home, Instagram, Facebook, social media, everybody needs the higher quality of the video capturing system. So that's why we, Canon USA, originally developed that EOS webcam utility softwares, adjusting the software that is a plugin to the Canon EOS cameras.

Kevin Ogawa:

So this [inaudible 00:11:38] our mirrorless camera become the webcam. So in the each that Zoom meeting or Teams meeting, Instagram, video capturing and so on and so forth, so now we converted the traditional, such the [inaudible 00:12:01] camera to be the webcam. So that's the in house, we develop such kind of thing within the three weeks. That is a very high speed. The agility is in here in Canon USA, then develop that kind of thing. So that's the huge the demand under client the circumstances, right?

Kevin Ogawa:

Also in the home printing. So everybody needs to work the remotely at home. So inkjet printers, laser printer, for the so-called, the use, that's in the great demand, as well as the IVY printer, that's the small photo, the printers. Now it's difficult to hold the big party and so and so, but in the home within the family members, just the exchanging of the photo and the taking a dinner together, you're the very small the number of people, but [inaudible 00:12:58]. So we are trying to encourage that the joy of a photo, also the joy of a print. So that's the great opportunity for us, actually and as a result we really enjoy doing such kind of business, even [crosstalk 00:13:16].

Tyler Suiters:

Yeah, Kevin, to hear a global brand pivot so quickly and develop a reactive software product in just three weeks and to turn those EOS digital cameras into webcams is a remarkable achievement. What about your vision? And you touched on this just a moment ago, the joy of a picture, the joy of a photo, the joy of whether it's printed or digital. And that seems to be shaping your approach to CES 2021, not just capturing an image, but what those images mean and how they can affect both how we feel in the moment and our view going forward too. There's a lot of power in the image.

Kevin Ogawa:

Right. So imaging is the core competency of the Canon. Also imaging is anywhere, right? So even outside of the earth, so space or parks and the very detailed the area. So imaging is the core, the business of Canon, but anywhere. So that's why in the voucher in the CES 2021, we are going to focus on the five the points, okay? So first of all the bugs, mainly the silkworm. Also in the second one, wolves in the park, astronauts, skateboarders, and the business people.

Tyler Suiters:

Yeah. Kevin, I want to tie that together because I'm curious where you're going with this. Bugs, wolves, skateboarders, astronauts, business people.

Kevin Ogawa:

Right.

Tyler Suiters:

There's a thread through all five, but I can't figure out what it is.

Kevin Ogawa:

Right. So actually, coming in the CES, we'd like to show the totally different look and the outline of the Canon. Used to be traditionally speaking, the most of the people feel that Canon is a printer company, camera company, MFP, so on and so forth. But bugs, wolves, astronauts, skateboarders, business people, that is the key, the subject to shoot. But that is a point.

Kevin Ogawa:

For example the bugs, mainly the bugs, but the silkworm, silk. Silk a business itself. We are doing such kind of things in the Canon Virginia, right? So that is the material, the portion. So silk is quite safety materials, and for the hood or protection over such kind of things. So the detail cannot be explain today, but that's the area, right? So you can see that's the new the technologies we have in virtual CES.

Kevin Ogawa:

Also wolves in Yellowstone, the national park, right? So we sponsor that national park for more than 20 years. So to preserve the protecting of the environment. So now the wolves, that is the subject of the EOS cameras today. So we can share that kind of imaging technologies. Also the astronauts or the space imaging. Actually, we are producing satellite which equipped EOS camera, or the PowerShot. So we launched the several rockets and the satellite, then making a space imaging to shoot the Earth from space. Also looking at such kind of images, almost the borderless, the world, even one [inaudible 00:17:38] on it, that's also in line with the [foreign language 00:17:41] philosophies. So protecting [crosstalk 00:17:43]-

Tyler Suiters:

Yeah. I love-

Kevin Ogawa:

Also the planets and that's the philosophy too. So the picture is the message, also the reality, right? So taking the video shoot or the pictures tells us the lots of the messaging. So we are supporting to sending the proper messaging from the shooter to the outside. So that you see, we are helping [inaudible 00:18:15] by our original technologies, from the Earth, space, the national park or the various the areas.

Tyler Suiters:

So you are coming up on 40 years with Canon, and one phrase I've heard is that, "We are not the Canon that your parents or your grandparents grew up with." And again, that means different things to different generations, I'm sure. But what does it mean to you, Kevin, as someone who started at Canon, like I said, roughly 40 years ago? And this is a global brand that has evolved and evolved well during those decades.

Kevin Ogawa:

Now, 40 years ago, actually the Canon is rather small line of the company. Of course, we started the marketing or our branding the products in the global scale, mainly the US, but we diversified the product, also the business itself. Nowadays we are talking the medical equipment or security cameras and so on and so on. So origin was the X-ray the products, then starting from these the imaging area to the camera core using MFP, and then now the medical equipment also. So diversification, diversified the product portfolio and the technology can help the human life in various areas.

Tyler Suiters:

Kevin, I want to talk about Canon and the idea of redefining the limits. And you've said that people come to CES for inspiration year after year, fully agree with that, right? It's what is coming on the market now, right, that you can see, touch and try, but also what's on the way, the innovations that are sparking imagination and products to come. But you've said then CES 2021 is where people come for serious inspiration. So we're looking for more this year. Why so different this year and how has Canon adapting to that?

Kevin Ogawa:

Yeah, it is because the new president and CEO comes on board, that myself, so that's why I wanted to change entire contents of the CES. That's why, as I said, the majority of the image of the Canon is the printer or the cameras, we diversified the product portfolio, as well as the technologies. As I said, the silk or space imaging or volume metric, the image capturing system, or such also office, the improvement technologies and so and so forth. Yeah. So that's why we are going to totally change the approach to the CES.

Tyler Suiters:

Yeah. It's an exciting time to do that, especially after 60 years of Canon history, a company, as we've said, with heart, with vigor, with creativity. A fascinating conversation, Kevin, but I can't let you go without asking how you were coping during the pandemic with your running. You are known as an avid marathoner, you have competed in some of the biggest marathons around the world. How is your training going? How are you dealing with the restrictions that are necessary under pandemic, when I'd assume marathoning is something that is a sense of balance for you in the corporate world?

Kevin Ogawa:

Yeah. To be frank with you, now the stay at home for the whole day, rather difficult to find the time for the running, but also most of the marathon race has been canceled. I'm not sure how soon the marathon race will be recovered, but yeah, I'm trying to keep fit and keep on the running if I can find the necessary time. So health condition and a healthy life, the safety, the life is the key. So also that I'm encouraging now my employee to do so as well.

Tyler Suiters:

Ah, leading by example, excellent. Kevin Ogawa is the president and CEO of Canon USA. Kevin, exciting to talk to you and even more of a sense of anticipation now for what Canon has planned at CES 2021. We can't wait to see what's in store.

Kevin Ogawa:

Yeah. Thank you very much. Please come to visit our site. Thank you.

Tyler Suiters:

That is a wrap on this edition of CES Tech Talk. As you know, CES transcends the traditional tech industry. Companies can use CES as a platform to show how they're embracing technology and evolving their businesses. There is a platform at CES for companies, large and small, and at CES 2021, well this will be a critical event for companies to launch and showcase new products and innovations. Companies will make major announcements during media day, you'll see demo products via live events, video content, digital activations, and you yourself can engage directly with your target audiences through live chat and through meetings.

Tyler Suiters:

Now to get ready for all of this, we're here to help. Be CES ready by subscribing to the CES Tech Talk podcast, that way you won't miss any episodes as we head toward the big show. Speaking of, the dates for CES 2021 are January 11th through the 14th. You can find all the latest announcements, and they are coming fast, at ces.tech, that is CES dot T-E-C-H. None of this podcast would be remotely possible without the true stars of our show, our executive producer, Jennifer Drogus, our assistant producer, Kristen Nemeroff and senior studio engineer, John Lindsey. Y'all are the best in the business. I'm Tyler Suiters. Let's talk tech again soon.

 
 

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