November 2016

Business in a Time of Donald Trump

Business in a Time of Donald Trump

The result of the recent US Presidential Election was met with some concerns amid business communities around the world. Moments after Donald Trump was deemed the winner of said election, Japan’s Nikkei index plunged 5.4%, thus prompting emergency meetings among the country’s financial leaders. South Korea’s National Security Council, too, convened to assess the uncertainty ahead. It is clear, then, that no one is quite sure how things are going to turn out in the next four years.

Economists around the world have reasons to worry. Even though President-elected Donald Trump spent the better part of his life as a businessman — as well as a stint as a reality show host and creator — does this mean that his imminent presidency is necessarily good for businesses?

Aside from the general outlook of 2017, Trump was the most talked-about topic during the latest edition of Canon’s Think Big Leadership Business Series event held at Marina Mandarin Hotel on 15 and 16 November 2016. In case you missed it, here are the key takeaways for the year ahead.

Cloudy With a Chance of Showers

Business outlook for 2017 had already seemed gloomy even before the US Presidential Election. For example, according to The Business Times, the existing economic downturn will be compounded in 2017 by Brexit, China’s slowdown, as well as the US elections. Guest speakers at the event largely agreed with the sentiment, though that is not to say that they were defeatists. In the contrary, most speakers agreed that there are opportunities to be had for businesses – MNCs and SMEs alike – but only if they know where to look.

Victor Mills, CEO of Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC), emphasised the importance of regionalisation, “Everyone is finding ways to stay relevant, and the region offers vast opportunities to collaborate and innovate. We cannot ignore these hugely diverse markets at our doorsteps.” Where, then, are the opportunities in Southeast Asia? Victor shared that members of SICC are already aggressively setting up factories in Thailand, as well as expanding software capabilities in Vietnam. To him, the biggest market has to be Indonesia, “If we can figure out the aspirations of the millions of consumers in Indonesia and collaborate with other companies to develop solutions, [that] will be a wonderful story to tell.”

Is this easier said than done? After all, SMEs generally do not have the same resources as MNCs to expand overseas quite as easily. However, Kurt Wee, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, strongly believes that the Singapore brand is strong enough a competitive edge, “If you take our status of efficiency and export those practices into overseas subsidiaries, and you run efficient operations from there, I am sure you will compete even better than the domestic players,” Kurt explained. “Singapore has always been about taking our constraints and [turning] them into strengths when operating in foreign markets. If we can conduct our businesses with the same leanness as we do in Singapore, we can be strong competitors.”

The Trumpian Future

The second day’s discussions inevitably steered towards Donald Trump. The effects of Trump’s presidency on the global economy, or ‘Trumponomics’, remains to be seen. However, experts during the events made some predictions for the road ahead, and how it will impact Singapore as a whole.

Dr Chua Hak Bin, Consultant of Economics & Investment Strategy, GIC, began with the positives: If Trump holds true to his promises, businesses — especially those with presence in the US — may see major tax reforms within the next four years. This falls in line with the deregulatory agenda that the Republican Party — which currently holds both the House and the Senate — has been pushing for even during President Obama’s administration.

However, Hak Bin also gave the flipside of Trump’s presidency: While deregulations may spell some positive outcomes, he wondered if Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-trade policies would ultimately hurt growth potential.

What does all of this mean for Singapore and Asia at large? “Trump or no Trump, life goes on for Asian consumers,” said Associate Professor Lewis Lim, Deputy Director of the Institute for Asian Consumer Insight — and the panel agreed. Judith Fergin, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce, was the first to provide reassurance, “Trump will be the 10th US President since Singapore’s independence. From a political point of view, the ASEAN relationship [with the US] creates jobs in every single American state. That’s why I believe that our economic relationships will continue to expand.” Judith adds that, instead of focusing on the uncertainties, there are a lot to be certain of in the coming year. “Political temperatures go up and down, but businesses go on. I’m an optimist,” she added.

The Way Forward

The key takeaway over the two-day event is clear: decisions that President-elect Trump make may impact the global economy. However, for most SMEs, it is business as usual. There are risks to be had, true, but opportunities, too, are abound. Perhaps Vasu Menon, Senior Investment Strategist from OCBC, summed it up best when he said, “I think it is important for SMEs to be aware of these changes that are taking place on the global front, and some of these changes will create problems. [However], I think even in a crisis, there are opportunities.”

More than just regionalisation and a sense of optimism, Vincent Low, Director and General Manager at Canon Singapore, believes that mitigation of risks ultimately comes down to people, “Having good products and solutions is important. However, I believe in nurturing, training and retraining people. I want to make sure that my guys are professional, even in tough times.” This is part of the reason why, beyond the products and services, Canon’s employees form the heart of the brand. The community, perhaps more than anything, can weather the storm.

Watch the highlight reel of the Think Big Leadership Business Series IV here

For more case studies and business solutions to power up your start-up or SME, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn for the latest updates!

Cloud computing – internet-based servers, storage and applications – is almost ubiquitous today, and not without reason. Especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cloud computing’s cost-effectiveness is invaluable. It offers infinite storage capacity, easy accessibility and transfer of data that increase productivity at an affordable price tag.

SMEs can reap benefits of cloud computing

Cloud computing offers increased productivity by saving time and space. Data can be shared and accessed virtually without physical servers and additional hardware. Software installations and updates also eliminate the need to store and maintain extensive hardware infrastructure.

Before cloud computing, in order to transfer large amounts of data, users had to save files into thumb drives (or if one wants to go way back – diskettes) and physically bring them to the recipient. With cloud, the user only needs the recipient’s email to share unlimited amounts of data from anywhere and anytime. This increases productivity tremendously as communication is much more efficient, speeding up processes like product development and sales generation.

Work delegation also becomes easier with cloud computing, enabling flexible work arrangements. Workers, who can only work remotely, like mothers and students, can access shared drives on cloud storage to access files without physically going to the office.

Best of all, these benefits come at an affordable price tag, as subscription plans usually allow the user to pay only for what is needed. Many services even come with free versions that allow companies to try before committing to the subscription terms.

This levels the playing field for many SMEs. A 2015 report from the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) stated that the average expenditure on IT for a local SME was only around 2.5 per cent of its budget. Given the small outlay of cloud, SMEs can achieve the same IT infrastructure as larger corporations even without paying steep start-up costs.

With services like Google Drive, Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Services, which are affordable and easy to use, services like e-mails, sharing platforms, data storage, and IT support are increasingly accessed, managed and updated with cloud.

Given the ubiquity of cloud computing, SMEs who do not take advantage of the conveniences that it offers will lose out in this highly competitive market.

Manage risks by taking security precaution

Understandably, despite the benefits, some SMEs are reluctant to adopt cloud computing because of potential security risks. According to the 2015 Internet Security Report, 60 per cent of all cyber attacks are on SMEs. This is because SMEs can be gateways to attack larger corporations.

For instance, in 2013, the second-largest U.S. based retailer, Target, suffered a massive breach due to malicious software being passed through an email exchange with its air-conditioning SME subcontractor. The breach cost Target 40 million credit and debit card numbers.

And security breaches are costly. On average, a data breach costs an organisation US$6.6 million in business and repair costs, according to a Ponemon Institute study.

Another reason why SMEs are particularly vulnerable is because they tend to spend less time and effort on security. To prevent that, here are some options that SMEs should invest in to protect their business against cybercrimes.

1. Secure authentication

Apart from picking a trusted cloud service provider, SMEs can keep their data safe by ensuring their authentication process – username and password – is strong. Two simple ways to do so are to avoid passwords that can be easily guessed at and change passwords regularly. As cloud storage can be accessed through public networks, having good password practices is important whether you are a business or an individual.

2. Protective barriers

SMEs can also secure their networks with a protective barrier such as a firewall. Wi-Fi routers act as gateways for other wireless devices through which information is transmitted, and thus it should be equipped with an advanced firewall.

Whether is it in the form of hardware or software, firewalls help to lock down open ports in the network, which can be used by cyber attackers to introduce malware and other harmful software. Firewalls also filter out harmful traffic before it can enter the network, securing your business network.

Applications can also be another loophole. If your business is heavily centred on applications, you can consider using Web Application Firewalls (WAF) that protect against attacks on applications.

3. Private access

Private networks allow computers to connect with each other while excluding others on the Internet, insulating the network from malicious applications and users like viruses, worms and hackers as well as the technical difficulties such as loss of connectivity or server outages. Computers in private networks have private IP addresses which make it unsearchable to other external computers.

4. Secure hardware

An often over-looked part of cloud security is hardware. Equipment such as printers and scanners should have security features that are suited for the cloud computing world.

For instance, Canon’s MAXIFY printers, targeted at small offices, are specially designed to protect the business from network security risks. It enables printing and scanning from cloud services with IP addresses filtering so that errant hosts can be excluded from using the printers. Advanced LAN settings also ensure data confidentiality.

For bigger SMEs, the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) setting helps to ensure a secured networking and administration of printers with multi-device management and monitoring via popular fleet management applications.

Additionally, support for SMTP (email servers) adds another layer of security. By having compatibility with enterprise mail servers, e-mail data is transmitted via the user’s mail server to the printer directly. Functions like scan-to-email can be conducted more securely and privately.

With 50% lower cost per print for XL ink cartridges, and productivity features like single-pass ADF, the MAXIFY range fits the bill for cost-conscious SMEs that are looking to adopt cloud technology.

The virtual world has its risks, but today’s SMEs will lose out if they avoid adopting cloud computing. SMEs should stay informed of how to manage the potential risks involved in order to capitalise on the benefits that cloud computing can offer.

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In the Central Business District (CBD), space comes at a premium. According to Straits Times, the monthly rent for CBD offices in the first quarter of this year was $9.90/ft2. If you do the calculations, a 1,000ft2 office will cost you just shy of $10,000 per month — assuming you can fit every employee into the shoebox. That is part of the reason why office devices must perform double, even triple duties to do a lot with very little.

If that sounds more than a little familiar, then Canon’s latest models in the MAXIFY range may just be the printers your SME needs.

Here are the features that set the MAXIFY MB5470, MB5170 and the single-function printer iB4170 apart from all the rest.

canon-paper-confidential-_f_hrFeeling Secure

The standout feature of the new MAXIFY printers is the one overlooked by most printers: security. Basic security features found in the larger multifunctional printers have been adapted to fit these new MAXIFY models. For example, as administrator, you will be able to manage multiple devices via popular fleet management applications, which helps to maintain data security. If you are running a smaller office, for example, individual printers can also be monitored over a local network via any web browser. Further security features may also be implemented, such as restricting copying, scanning to USB flash drives and changing of LAN settings to specific employees.

Printing Woes, Be Gone!

If you had a 50-page document to scan within the next hour, a conventional printer is just not going to make the cut. The MB5470 and MB5170, on the other hand, have one-pass two-sided scanning capabilities built right in for maximum productivity. This means that scanning, copying or faxing those tricky two-sided documents can be done in a single pass, making it a breeze for businesses with high-volume printing needs.

Good for Environment = Good for Business

The new MAXIFY models are also built with cost efficiency in mind. In terms of energy consumption, all three models use about 0.9W on standby — that’s about the average amount a computer uses on Sleep Mode. Not only that, standard printers usually requires a change of ink cartridges after printing about 1,000 black-and-white pages. The MB5470 and MB5370 models, on the other hand, yield 2,500 black-and-white pages before a replacement is needed — you save nearly 50% of the cost per print! Not only is this good for the business, it is good for the environment also. It’s a win-win situation.

Designing and building multifunctional printers for businesses around the world have taught us a great many things. As part of our mission to constantly innovate and improve our product line-up, the new MAXIFY models represent an accumulation of all our best ideas over the years. That way, no matter the size and nature of your business, we have a printer ready just for you.

For more case studies and business solutions to power up your start-up or SME, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn for the latest updates!

The New Year is upon us! It feels like only yesterday that the team at Canon Singapore celebrated the arrival of 2016. Time flies when you are working hard.

As the year draws to a close, it is important to look ahead. Businesses, especially, have to be aware of upcoming trends — good or bad — and adapt our strategies accordingly. Like it or not, being so connected to the regional and global economies, Singapore is susceptible to outside influences. What happens beyond our borders will inevitably impact us.

This is why our upcoming Think Big Leadership Series event will cover both upcoming commercial trends in 2017, as well as how business must adapt to keep up with the times. In the meantime, I want to share some of my own observations, as well as how we, as a community, can work together in the year ahead.

1. The Internet of Everything

Everything is connected to the internet — and I mean everything! The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a trend not just in the business world, but in the consumer world too. IoT has the potential to disrupt just about everything. However, instead of seeing it as an insurmountable challenge, we must see it as an opportunity to innovate.

Today, our very-own printers are already hooked up to the internet, but I think there is room for growth in this area. In an increasingly connected world, no office device must be left behind. Even in our everyday operations, if there are IoT-enable devices that may help us to work better and smarter, then it is an avenue worth exploring — in order to stay ahead of our competitors.

2. Listen to Millennials

Millennials have a somewhat negative reputation, in no small part due to how they are sometimes portrayed in the media. In Asia, they are often referred to as the ‘strawberry generation’, because they, unlike their parents’ generation, supposedly cannot withstand hardships and social pressures.

However, every generation usually has something to say about the generation that follows them. I believe that Millennials simply work in a different way from the rest of us, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For a large corporation like Canon, fresh ideas are especially important to keep us moving forward. Instead of viewing Millennials as voices of dissonance, we should embrace them and see how they can contribute. I believe that taking everyone’s inputs into consideration and building social resilience within the company is one of the best ways to retain talent and keep staff attrition low in the long run. This cuts across everybody, no matter which generation you belong to.

3. Automate, But Also Create Relationships

In my last entry, I wrote about the benefits of automation in business — and, don’t get me wrong, I still stand by that. However, at the end of the day, automating work processes cannot take away the fact that the human touch is important as well. While we investigate the possibilities of workflow automation, we must always remember that Canon is still a company that centres around people, and building meaningful relationships and connections with our staff and customers is equally, if not more important.

4. Embrace Sustainability

I do have many positive interactions with Millennials. Experts will tell you that Millennials, being well educated, tend to gravitate towards businesses that not only do well, but also contribute to the good of the community. A socially responsible and committed organisation is a key consideration for many of them.

It is why, for the future of this generation, that sustainability, arguably more than anything else, should continue to be the focus for business. Be it the materials you use to manufacture your products or the services you provide, the community at large should always be the chief consideration. Sustainability, after all, is a climate-proof topic. No matter what the economic outlook, sustainability should always be a priority.

Canon Singapore in 2017

What does the future hold for Canon Singapore? Here’s a preview: I am excited for the introduction of brand new products, as well as several ICV-approved Document Management solutions for SMEs. Also, the logistics and legal industries are areas we are keenly interested to introduce new solutions in 2017.

With that said, we want to advance with caution. Considering the economic outlook, we don’t want to over-extend ourselves. That is why 2017 will be a year of consolidation — at least for the first six months. There will be planned structural changes that, I believe, will better engage the market, especially in the attraction of new Canon customers.

We have plans to train and upgrade our team members in preparation for the challenging times ahead. That way, we can all be ready to charge ahead when things make a turn for the better.

For more case studies and business solutions to power up your startup or SME, follow Canon Singapore and Vincent Low on LinkedIn.