New tech selling in mature markets

Companies in the region are turning to new technology in a bid to increase efficiencies and better cope with tougher economic climate, says Canon executive.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--New technology innovations have been keeping business healthy in mature markets for Canon's business group, according to a company executive.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Alan Chng, Canon Singapore's vice president for business imaging solutions group, said the company has been experiencing growth in mature markets such as Singapore, thanks to new products and technology.

Region's high-tech childcare

Cherie Hearts Group International looks toward technology innovations to achieve cost savings and introduce new business features, said Gurchran Singh, founder and group president of the childcare center chain.

Cherie Hearts has 52 centers employing 400 staff in Singapore, and has presence in other countries in the region including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.

Referring to Cherie Hearts' access card deployment as an example, Singh explained that an access card--that spells out both the child and caregiver's name--is used when the parent comes to pick up the child at the end of the day. This has enhanced the security profile of the childcare centers, as well as provided a simpler way to keep a digital record of exit and entries for compliance purposes. These records are submitted for inspection by government authorities, as mandated, he explained.

Cherie Hearts has also extended its investments in digitizing information in a Web resource for parents, where curriculum and other information are accessible from home, said Singh.

A Canon customer, the childcare group also uses the company's products such as its C7000VP for its printing jobs--which used to run significant costs, said Singh. Cherie Hearts places digitized information in a Web resource for parents, where curriculum and other information are accessible from home.

The group is also converting the digital information into another revenue stream by selling a year-end booklet, documenting the child's progress, to interested parents.

While companies are anticipated to cut back on spending in the uncertain economic climate, Chng said this trend has helped fuel sales for the document management provider.

Pressurized by tightened manpower budgets and space constraints due to escalating rental rates, businesses have focused on the need to consolidate and improve productivity, he explained. This translates into sales of technology that promises to deliver those functions, he added.

New releases of digital document management products have gained traction in the Singapore market, Chng said, noting that Canon's local office reduced the number of filing cabinets to a quarter of its initial size by digitizing documents. This freed up a considerable space for the local office, he said.

Asia outperforming other regions
Chng said the Asian region accounted for the largest sales figures, at US$14 billion, for the first half of 2008. Europe rang up US$13 billion, while the Americas at US$11 billion during the same period.

"America used to be the greatest revenue contributor for Canon, but now it's Asia," he said.

Overall, the company is seeing greater growth rates in emerging markets. Singapore and Malaysia grew by 12 and 15 percent, respectively. By comparison, the emerging markets which include Thailand and India, grew at 43 percent collectively in the last year, said Chng.

Thailand's growth was dramatically higher, particularly in solution sales, where it showed a 442 percent growth. The average growth for the region in this division was 86 percent, he said.

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