Canon targets S'pore SMBs with cloud services

Japanese imaging product maker partners local carrier, SingTel, to deliver on-demand data management service and appstore in Singapore, with hopes of drawing 3,000 customers by end-2011, reveal execs.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Canon has launched its first cloud-based data management service, powered by local telco SingTel's infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform, and will also act as an "appstore" for other ISVs (independent software vendors) to come onboard and bundle their services with Canon's multi-function devices.

Lim Kok Hin, vice president of business imaging solutions group at Canon South and Southeast Asia, said one of the key drivers behind the Canon Cloud Advantage initiative was to address the "ambition gap" between businesses and their employees.

"Many companies' ambitions are taking over employees' ambitions in Singapore today," Lim elaborated at the launch Friday. "While many companies here are generally doing well, there's a discord in that Singaporean workers are less happy than [many of their global counterparts]."

As such, Canon is hoping to use its technology such as the company's cloud data management service, named Therefore, to help workers finish their jobs faster and end work earlier, he added.

Von Chan, director and managing director of business imaging solutions and business solutions division at Canon Singapore, added that its ImageRunner multi-function device, launched last April, was designed to support the "cloud ecosystem". Chan, who also attended the briefing, said ImageRunner would allow users of its Therefore cloud service to access apps such as Microsoft's SharePoint or Google Apps without having to install an intermediary server.

Additionally, the multi-function device is customizable to an individual user's most-used workflow, which helps reduce the time needed to scan and send documents to various employees within the organization, he said.

This service will particularly benefit companies that have not digitized their documents, which would account for about 90 percent of Singapore companies, Chan said, noting that this is where Canon is looking to target. The document imaging vendor said it is confident of attracting 3,000 cloud customers, many of which potentially small and midsize businesses, by end-2011.

According to Canon, its partnership with SingTel to tap the carrier's computing resources is "not exclusive", and the vendor is paying the telco for its services. It did not reveal financial details, though.

Among the ISVs currently on Canon's cloud ecosystem, 15 to date, are Salesforce.com, StarHub, Omnitoons and Nuance, Chan revealed. No details were disclosed regarding the role local carrier, StarHub, will play in Canon's cloud initiative.

Asked about the revenue sharing model between ISVs and Canon, Lim told ZDNet Asia that it would generally be an equal split, although the company will decide the eventual revenue ratio on a case-by-case basis. He added that he is on the lookout for other partners, particularly developers working in niche verticals such as medical clinics and maid agencies, among others.

Pricing for its cloud services is also "dependent on the solutions purchased" and there is no one-price-fits-all approach, the company disclosed.

Chan said: "For example, customers using Google Docs and SharePoint will not have to pay additional charges. Customers using the Therefore offering, however, will pay approximately S$1,000 (US$803.90) per month for 10 users, which includes the software license, maintenance, black-and-white and color print as well as paper."

He also revealed that Singapore is the launch site globally for the new Canon cloud service, with Europe following suit in three weeks' time.

"Our Singapore team wanted to be the first to bring the service online as it was an interesting project, and other country teams such as those from Indonesia are here to see how they can bring this service into their respective markets," noted Chan.

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