Canon may follow Xerox's BPO plunge

Singapore execs say Canon "open" to strengthening partnerships and acquisitions, following rival Xerox's buy of U.S. business process outsourcing firm.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Canon is "open" to opportunities to acquire suitable business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, as well as to strengthen partnerships to boost its imaging business, according to senior executives based here.

Alan Chng, South and Southeast Asia vice president of Canon's business imaging solutions, noted during a media gathering here Wednesday that the Japanese company "has intentions" to make market moves similar to its rivals in order to gain entry to the BPO market.

Last month, competitor Xerox announced it would acquire BPO player Affiliate Computer Services for US$6.4 billion.

"Definitely, it's time for us to go into this area," said Chng, adding that candidates suitable for acquisition could be businesses in Asia that have synergies with Canon.

Lim Kok Hin, Singapore senior director and general manager of Canon's business imaging solutions and business solutions, added that the company may also strengthen or expand its partnerships to include such services in its portfolio. "At the moment it looks like we're wide open to [both] options," he said.

Customers, explained Lim, often do not expect a single company to do able to do everything, and are "comfortable enough" to approach Canon as a "turnkey operator".

The drive toward a "solutions" approach, or packaging software and services along with hardware, has been intensified over the last few years as companies were no longer interested in "buying a box". Instead, Lim said, they want to solve business problems. For instance, Canon recently worked with a large tour operator in Singapore to implement on-demand printing based on personalized customer itineraries. The initiative helped minimize wastage as it eliminates the need to store as well as produce standard travel brochures in bulk.

As part of its shift toward "solutions" rather than device sales, Canon today also officially unveiled a free audit service, where it provides a "health screen" of a customer's imaging environment, said Chng. The company has so far conducted an audit of its own office premises in Singapore, as well as a few other companies in the island-state. Canon will continue to expand the service to other markets in the region, he added.

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