FUJIO MITARAI AIMING TO POSITION CANON FOR FURTHER GROWTH INTO THE MID-21ST CENTURY
Fujio Mitarai is looking to position Canon Inc. for future growth into the middle of the 21st century by building on the transformation of his company’s business portfolio to make the switch from a B2C to a B2B company and stay abreast of global market developments.
The year 2020 marks the end of Phase V of this business portfolio transformation, and the multinational company that is listed on both the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges continues to advance steadily toward the targets set by Mitarai.
The transformation of Canon’s business portfolio includes seeking synergies in new business areas that leverage its existing assets, including both technology and human resources, while also continuing to pursue a strategy of merger and acquisitions. “We are transforming our business portfolio to stay in sync with the changing times,” Mitarai says.
Canon at the Cutting Edge in the Medical Field
Mitarai has earmarked the medical field as an area for potential growth and in December 2016, Canon acquired Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation.
Over the short term, Canon is looking to expand its lineup of diagnostic imaging equipment, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound, while also boosting their competitive capabilities.
Mid- to long-term growth includes a focus on regenerative medicine, which could have far-reaching applications, especially in an aging society. Since August 2019, the company has engaged in joint research with Nobel Prize winner Professor Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and how they could be used to replicate injured tissue, test drug efficacy and develop new medicines. Canon is contributing advanced optical, measuring and diagnostic imaging technologies to the project. Together with Yamanaka and his research group, Canon is confident they can make a contribution to the further development and adoption of regenerative medicine. It’s still in the early stages, according to Mitarai, but there is huge growth potential.
M&A: Mitarai Adopts Two-Pronged Strategy
Canon's network camera business boasts annual growth of more than 15% outpacing the market, and Mitarai aims for further dominance in this area with a two-pronged strategy of acquiring various hardware and software businesses.
In 2015, Canon acquired Axis Communications, a global leader in network video equipment, less than a year after the acquisition of Milestone Systems, a leader in video management software for such equipment. In addition, in 2018, Canon acquired leading video analysis solution provider BriefCam.
The global network camera market is expected to see annual growth in excess of 10% over the mid- to long-term, with such fields as security and law enforcement making up a major share.
Mitarai explains, “Using a camera equipped with the ultra-high-resolution 250-megapixel CMOS sensor and 800mm telephoto lens, it is possible to identify the lettering on the side of an aircraft from a distance of about 18km. This can help security patrols view objects that
“We are transforming our business portfolio to stay in sync with the changing times,” Mitarai says.
cannot be seen with the naked eye.”
That’s not to say Mitarai is ignoring the conventional applications of network cameras and their potential to help realize a safer, more secure society.
Mitarai also sees uses in marketing: “Network cameras can be used in places like supermarkets to gather data on purchases made by certain demographics from specific shelves. I believe that this technology can be used to create a more convenient society,” he says.
He cites potential smart cities as a catalyst for the future development of the network camera market, envisaging the technology connecting such institutions as schools, broadcasters and hospitals.
Mitarai’s M&A strategy is also proving a success in the field of commercial printing, identified as one of Canon’s new core businesses. Canon acquired Océ, based in Venlo, the Netherlands, in 2010, but the company that is expected to revolutionize high-volume, highspeed printing continued to operate under its original name. Last year, Océ’s business division recognized the advantage of adopting the Canon brand name, and effective from January 2020, the company has been rebranded as Canon Production Printing— making Océ, already a fully fledged member of the Canon Group, a member in name as well.
Serving Professionals and Innovating Imagery
The Canon name has long been synonymous with consumer cameras, but this market has matured as many of the original user needs can now be met by smartphones. Mitarai wants his company to focus its efforts elsewhere, including the professional user market.
“When we talk about the shrinking camera market we are really only talking about consumer cameras. The market for professionallevel cameras used by the media and those who shoot sporting events will not disappear. These are areas where smartphones can’t meet user needs,” he says.
Beginning with the Rugby World Cup in 2019, Japan is set to host a number of global sporting events over the next several years. Mitarai himself played a leading role during the Rugby World Cup as Chairman of the Organizing Committee.
Canon maintains a strong connection to sports, including event sponsorship and media support, and has actively honed its technological capabilities, including the Free Viewpoint Video System, capture and display of high-resolution 8K images, and immersive widescreen viewing experiences. Canon produced video content that allowed viewers to feel like they were right in the middle of the action.
Canon’s Free Viewpoint Video System is comprised of cameras installed around the perimeter of the field, producing computergenerated video that provides a new perspective of the game.
“The images from the cameras are immediately processed by computers and television viewers can observe events from virtually the same level as the crowd in the stadium. It is also possible to trace individual on-field plays, and to use computer processing to view them from different perspectives,” Mitarai says.
He sees possibilities for strategic analysis in such sports as American football and to help referees determine rule violations from positions they cannot see for themselves. “This will transform the way people watch sports,” he adds.
Looking ahead, you can be certain that Mitarai and his staff have plans for Canon to continue to create new image expressions that change the way people view sports as the third decade of the 21st century gets underway.
8K immersive live viewing at Canon's Tokyo headquarters.
Canon to expand its lineup of diagnostic imaging equipment.