December 2017

By Vincent Low

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…“. The Christmas song is in the background while I’m penning this article. We’re just about to get into the full swing of the festive season; most of us are beginning to hang up our work-hats in favour of holiday season. While that’s undoubtedly well-deserved, business as they say, goes on as usual. The pressure to wrap up the year whilst juggling our personal commitments can potentially affect output and productivity at work.

I’ve previously highlighted that stressed out employees don’t make for productive ones, so here’s a follow-up as we near the year-end holiday period, on how I juggle work responsibilities without having to short-change my friends and family.

1. Set Clear Priorities

Throughout the year, I make it a point to set priorities for all the work. I find that when priorities aren’t established early on, we tend to feel like everything has to be done at once, and put in extra hours or work overtime to get them done. More often than not, a hurried job leads to shoddy work. By establishing and ranking the importance or urgency of tasks, we’re better able to schedule and manage our workload over a reasonable period of time.

Even if this is a temporary issue, it is imperative that you ensure that your additional efforts don’t go unnoticed or under-appreciated. However, if overtime seems to be a chronic problem with you, or with the members of your team, perhaps it’s time to sit down and figure out an alternative solution that might work in the longer run.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

One of my guiding principles has always been to leave work at the office. When we start taking work home, the stress of the day follows close behind and we start being incapable to see work and our personal life as separate entities.

That being said, like many of you, I’m guilty of doing it at times. Circumstances arise such that having to bring work home is inevitable at some point of our careers. Nevertheless, I believe this practice should be closely monitored by the management. If your employees are consistently taking work home, some structural changes may need to be put in place.

Achieving an ideal work-life balance could be as simple as altering your work arrangements – set time aside with your loved ones or lock-in a session at the gym after work and stick to it!

3. Set Time Aside

Long working hours have an adverse effect on employees, and many begin lowering their priority placed on their health and wellness. Here at Canon, we have a strong Staff Recreation Committee that regularly organises social activities. From weekly running sessions to baking and Yoga classes, we encourage our staff to pencil these activities in their hectic schedule in hopes that it becomes a habit to put themselves and their well-being first. And not forgetting the advantages of bonding with your fellow colleagues at the same time. Certainly will not harm the day to day happier and more productive work.

That established, another good practice is to make use of your company’s vacation and leave benefits. They’ve been put in place for a reason, and you’re only going to lose out if you don’t maximise them.

4. Take A Break, But Plan Ahead First!

Achieving work-life balance isn’t an impossible task. All it takes is an adjustment to your mind-set and work habits, while bearing in mind it’s never a 50-50% spilt on both life and work. By first setting clear priorities with your workload, you’ll be able to plan ahead and avoid going into overdrive, allowing for room to make the most of your vacation days as well.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas everyone!

For more business solutions and insights, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn.

Ensuring the sustainability of your business requires security on multiple levels, from data security to surveillance of your premises. Using its expertise in optics and networking technology, Canon has developed a series of powerful Network Visual Solutions; Mr. Norman Bin Ayob, Head of Sales of CSP Business Group, Canon Singapore, tells us more.

Thank you for sharing some time with us! What are Canon’s key offerings for Network Visual Solutions?

We just launched our Canon Profile Analyzer last month, which seamlessly adds the capability of determining the age and gender of subjects to existing Canon Network Cameras. The People Counter, Canon’s first Video Content Analysis (VCA) solution, has also been introduced to the market this year as well. With these products being so new in the market, we aim to bring about awareness of this tech knowledge through showcasing them at events.

What does the Profile Analyzer do?

Canon Profile Analyzer allows companies to gather real-time demographic details and empowers companies to keep up with the constantly changing market environment. It can be easily integrated with the user’s existing Customer Relationship Management system to perform analysis based on the operation hours or scheduled intervals. With a wider range of data aggregation intervals of 10, 15, 30 or 60 minutes, this will allow maximum efficiency on the desired pattern of tracking. With the results collected, users can make adjustments to optimise resource allocations, enhance sales and marketing strategies to meet the needs of their visitors profile or improving productivity in various business functions.

What about the People Counter?

This solution counts the number of people in both recorded and live footage. It sounds simple, but it can go up to counting 1,500 people in videos and 7,000 in images, and has been crucially useful for surveillance analysis. If you’ve noticed while entering the event today, there were men at the doors manually counting the number of people with their tickers. Imagine all that hassle now removed with the help of the People Counter. It frees up manpower that could in turn do more meaningful work by interpreting the analysis provided by our solution.

What gives Canon the edge over other products and solutions?

I’m sure you know; Canon’s core technological edge is in imaging, and this stretches to our surveillance products; we now have the analytics to go along with quality images our products capture. The essence of analytics is accuracy; we have always delivered, and we will continue improving.

In what ways is Canon looking to continuously improve?

Our first foray into video analytics began over a decade ago with something as simple as facial recognition. Canon’s CEO Mr. Mitarai always emphasised on having to improve ourselves, so we combined our facial recognition features with products in the security and surveillance sector. Canon has since acquired Axis and Milestone, both experts at video surveillance technology and handling the back-end of recording systems. The result – we are succeeding at crisp and accurate video analytics solutions, with higher quality images that now require lesser bandwidth and space; a long way from just facial recognition in a camera.

How else do you see video analytics being useful, perhaps around our neighbourhoods?

We still see movie ushers manually checking for IDs in theatres. Video analytics work perfectly with verification processes like that, and that frees up manpower for perhaps more meaningful roles in the organisation, like reporting the analysis provided by the People Counter.

Visit the People Counter’s product page here for additional information and visual demonstrations. You can also check out similar case studies on Canon’s Think Big website here.

Recently, a slew of new technology like Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have taken the world by storm. Similar to its cousin, Virtual Reality (VR), AR allows for new ways to interact with the world, broadening the limits of gaming, entertainment or day-to-day life. And as it tends to happen with the nature of up-and-coming tech tools, businesses soon follow suit, and the earliest adopters stand only to gain from their head start.

Consider Immersive Storytelling with Augmented Reality

AR can change the way we approach business, creating new ways to engage with our co-workers, consumers or the world around us. With an opportunity to provide customers with a fully immersive experience that’s built around your product and its stories, businesses are no longer confined to the physical world.

Perhaps most notably, AR has proven its worth in the retail space, and could soon perhaps do away with the need for physical showrooms altogether. IKEA has adopted AR so customers can better visualise how their furniture might fit in their house. With AR, previously disparate but important pieces of information can be integrated into one seamless environment.

Beyond retail, the future of AR could potentially change the way businesses are run. From remote collaboration to augmented office spaces, the possibilities are endless.

Find The Right Audience with Artificial Intelligence

AI refers broadly to the capability of machines to imitate intelligent human behaviour. By identifying applicable and insightful patterns too time-consuming for humans to find, Machine Learning has been assisting businesses towards a greater understanding of their customers.

As a fully digital company with over 100 million users worldwide, Spotify’s success is largely data-driven, using AI and Machine Learning to acquire invaluable knowledge on their pool of users. As the service acquires more information, machines are trained to listen to the music, and extrapolate intel that impacts the business, its users and the industry alike.

When it comes to digital marketing, AI technologies can sieve through heaps of data you may have collected from your customers, telling you only the most relevant information so ad spends can be optimised more effectively.

Keep People Talking With Voice Search

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone without a smartphone. With the rise of voice-activated personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, voice search is changing the way we search for, and receive information. With voice search, users no longer have to distill searches into keywords for a search engine to understand. By voice-optimising your online assets, such websites, services or review pages will increase the likelihood that your business gets picked up by relevant voice searches.

Since most voice searches seek local information, start by completing a Google My Business listing. Beyond website, address and contact number, try to provide more information on the business or services and reviews so Google can identify unique attributes.

To sum it up, the next phase of digital transformation lies in the ability to integrate business goals with technology, people and resources. Businesses must prepare for the future of digitisation in order to stay competitive, or risk getting left behind.

For more business insights, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn.

We live in a world that’s in constant flux, so it pays to take note of upcoming industries and trends in order to plan well for the year ahead. We point out some industries which experts believe are set to boom in the upcoming year, useful for business owners, jobseekers or anyone simply looking to keep up-to-date with global developments.

1. Green Energy

These days, it seems green is the only way to go. In the past, steep prices, political barriers and unproven results may have deterred many, but that’s already beginning to change. Sustainability is now a worthy investment, and along with it comes a whole slew of benefits: the promise of competitive advantage, the presence of a growing market of eco-conscious consumers, which in turn results in higher revenue.

Following the footsteps of renewable energy leaders such as China and Europe, U.S. has been hot on their heels in terms of developing products to better harness natural sources of power. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that solar generating capacity will increase by 23% in 2018 and wind capacity will grow from 88 gigawatts (GW) to 96 GW by 2018. In addition, there has been an explosive growth for the number of green energy jobs in the U.S., and the numbers are set to continue rising worldwide. Overall, the prospects are looking good for the renewable power industry, and 2018 will be a year to keep an eye on for more breakthroughs. 

2. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have lingered around for a while, but it wasn’t until recent years that saw tremendous improvements in compatible technology and content to further enhance its experience. This upward trend is predicted to extend well into 2018, with shipments for these devices expected to reach a grand total of 26 million next year, along with more developments in the works. One such development is Facebook’s Oculus, looking to launch a stand-alone VR headset next year that’s made much more convenient and affordable for consumers.

While VR and AR have largely been adopted for entertainment purposes, its practical uses extend to areas like education, therapy, and safety testing. For example, Walmart has incorporated VR as part of its job training for workers; one of the technology’s applications generates realistic simulations of unplanned events like Black Friday sales and emergencies, so that the employees will be better equipped to handle a range of situations.

With big names like Walmart and Facebook investing in the technology and propelling its popularity further, it won’t be long before VR and AR advance beyond bulky headsets and steep prices, and become embraced by the masses.

3. Drones

Drones were originally developed for military use, touted as a cheaper and safer alternative to manned aircrafts. They have since proven useful for matters beyond the military, such as tracking volcano activity from a safe distance, and lent a hand in enhancing media and entertainment experiences. The growing success has therefore forecasted personal and commercial sales of drones to hit $11.2 billion by 2020.

With Singapore itself aiming to be a drone hub in the near future, 2018 might be a good year to start investing in the technology, if you haven’t already. If you’re in the advertising and marketing industry, consider investing in a drone for better video footage. Thinking of starting a drone-related business instead? Consider going into drone repairs and servicing, industrial inspection, or small business delivery.

For more business insights, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn.

Being a boss will mean many things, and professional mentorship ranks high in a leader’s responsibility towards their employees. A great mentor effectively makes use of their vision, wisdom or experience to guide a newer generation of the workforce through challenges new or old. This positions businesses as desirable places to work, ensuring low turnover rates and better-trained staff in order to bring any thriving business forward.

With the benefits of good mentorship in mind, here are five traits central to any great mentor:

1. Communicate Expectations

It is crucial to set the tone right from the start so that all parties have a clear understanding of their roles and expectations. First and foremost, ensure everyone is well-acquainted with the company’s values and culture so that your staff have an idea of what’s expected and what’s to come. Establish the ways in which you can jump in to help as well, so they know exactly what they’re responsible over. From there on out, create clear and measurable short and long-term goals, and engage in a discussion if need be, on how they might go about accomplishing them. Get these basic matters communicated, and you will avoid unnecessary misunderstanding and problems down the road.

2. Take Time To Understand Your Employees

Given the corporate hierarchy and nature of the work relationship, bosses and employees might find it hard to get close to each other. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. After all, open communication makes for a productive work environment. Instead of simply discussing everyday work matters, consider taking the initiative to know your employees on a deeper level. Any vacation plans this year? Are there any hobbies that you both have in common?

When you become genuinely interested and learn more about them personally, it shows that you care and it makes them more willing to open up and be honest with their feelings. This will help to build trust, strengthen the relationship, and create a positive environment to work in.

3. Ask More Than You Answer

A mentor directly tells a mentee what to do when the mentee faces a problem, but a great mentor probes further and gets the mentee to come up with their own solution.

In an era where we’re constantly bombarded with new information; constant status updates to the latest, breaking news, it is vital to exercise critical thinking and judgment. As a mentor, you should ask thought-provoking questions that will allow your employees to think more and grow as individuals, instead of just feeding them answers.

Remember, a mentor’s role is to guide mentees in the right direction and push them to develop their capabilities further.

4. Be Willing To Share Information  

For better or for worse, mentors should be honest when it comes to sharing information if it helps their mentees become more competent. For example, you can give useful feedback that is immediate, private, and specific for the mentees to improve on. You may also suggest ideas that they can try out in future.

More importantly, don’t be afraid to share your mistakes as well! This will only give your mentees new perspective they can think about, learn from, and hopefully not repeat. As an added bonus, sharing these blunders will make you more approachable as a mentor too.

5. Celebrate Their Milestones 

It is easy to overlook the hard work of mentees, especially when they are expected to get the job done. Mentors should still acknowledge their achievements, since it would mean a great deal to them, motivating them to start on their next task with confidence and a sense of satisfaction.

Little gestures of appreciation go a long way. A simple compliment in front of the team, or a thoughtful handwritten note might even keep an overwhelmed employee through tough times.

It pays to be a good mentor, one who goes out of their way to groom the business’ future. This way, they will turn out to be valuable employees, capable of contributing to a company’s progress.

For more business insights, follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn.

A Feature of Canon’s After-Market Support Team

Any seasoned employer will tell you that a good attitude goes a long way, yet it remains a soft skill that’s often brushed aside. Great employees tend to handle adverse situations a lot better as well – possessing a positive mindset allows them to tackle challenges in a positive manner and take bad experiences in their stride.

Meet Mr. Abdul Aziz Jafar, a dedicated Service Engineer who has been awarded numerous Service awards ever since joining Canon 17 years ago. He certainly may be a maestro with the machines, but when it comes to the art of customer relationship, Mr Jafar has mastered it down pat.

We sit down with Mr Jafar to find out just what it takes to keep a positive attitude, and what it means to provide service with a smile.

Tell us about your job scope and what it entails.

As a technician, my job is to troubleshoot and provide preventive maintenance for my customers. I’m in charge of Orchard, and the areas surrounding town, so at any point of the day I’ll be running around town checking up on the machines under our care.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

On most mornings, my team will gather at a stipulated meeting point, collect any spare parts if required then proceed with a short discussion. We’ll discuss maintenance issues, handle customer requests or address queries if the team has any. Following the discussion, my team leader will consolidate and distribute the workload amongst us and we’ll disperse from there.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like meeting and interacting with customers. But more importantly, I enjoy travelling around instead of being stuck in an office all day long. Usually, when customers are very pleased with your work, they tend to let their guard down and we’ll have very pleasant conversation, sometimes they’ll show me around their office or share interesting stories with me. It’s an eye-opening experience because I get a chance to interact with people of various industries, and catch a glimpse of offices or spaces I’d never get a chance to even know about if I was doing something else.

What are some of the challenges you have faced at work? How do you overcome them?

Besides the day-to-day hardware or maintenance issues, I would say managing customers expectations. In our line of work, you’ll definitely come across customers who can be impatient — they think since we’re technicians we’ll be able to solve any problem immediately. But that’s not the case, sometimes we encounter trickier problems and we might even have to dismantle the entire equipment, and we’ll take a longer time.

When I meet customers like that, ones who are too demanding or rude, I’ll just take it in my stride. The way I see it, I just want to get the job done to the best of my ability so I tend not to take things too personally. That being said, we have our limits too! Thankfully, most of our customers are very nice people and I’ve yet to encounter anyone who’s made me lose my cool.

What are some of your career highlights?

Back in 2006, I was nominated as a Service Hero! Canon Singapore introduced this award in 2007 to applaud quality customer service at every touch point, and I am honoured to be one of its recipients. I even got a chance to have dinner with my CEO at Mount Faber (laughs). I was also selected as Best Technician in 2001, 2012 and 2013! This award takes customer feedback into account and is recognition of my hardware skills and knowledge, so that’s something I’m quite proud of.

How do you go the extra mile for your customers?

Just like I’ve mentioned previously, I always make sure I finish the task I have at hand. This one time, I was on half-day leave in the afternoon, but I got a call in the morning from my customer requesting for an urgent repair, so while I was working on that I completely forgot I was on half-day leave! I only realised what time it was when the customer asked if I wanted to break for lunch. But yes, I had to make sure the machine was up-and-running and the customer was satisfied.

What has kept you working at Canon after all these years?

I’ve been with Canon for 17 years already, and being a technician is all I know. I have to say, I continue working for Canon because I’m always challenged, there’s always something new to learn. Whenever new models come in, we’ll have a chance to be trained accordingly. Now I can even fix computers.

What would you be doing if not this?

I really love fishing. I’ve always dreamt of buying a boat one day, and maybe I’ll do that when I retire!

Follow Canon Singapore on LinkedIn, as we showcase more of our valued After-Market Support staff in the months ahead.

As the curtains draw on 2017, businesses need to begin planning ahead for the upcoming year. With constant changes in geopolitical landscape, technological breakthroughs and stakeholder expectations, businesses cannot afford to rest on their laurels with stagnant business models.

Planning ahead may be a daunting task, but Canon’s Think Big Leadership Business Series aims to provide clarity for over 700 attending business leaders, through a whole host of respected leaders in both commerce and academia sharing their perspectives on 2018’s projections. Aptly themed Outlook 2018, this convention took place at the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, on the 21st and 22nd of November 2017.

Even before the official programme, the upbeat mood was palpable with participants exchanging pleasantries and mingling at the breakfast reception. Promptly at 9am, Director & General Manager of Canon Singapore’s Business Imaging Solutions, Mr. Vincent Low, delivered his opening address and kickstarted the event.

Day One: In his opening address, Mr. Vincent Low, our Director and General Manager of Business Imaging Solutions, highlights Canon’s role as a tech leader in embracing business digitisation.

The first day’s proceedings did not disappoint, with thought-provoking sharings by NTU’s Dr. Joseph Liow, UOB’s Mr. Jimmy Koh & OCBC Bank’s Mr. Vasu Menon. A panel discussion dissecting the ideal business model for 2018 followed, with Mr. Vikram Khanna from The Business Times entering the fray as moderator, & the Future Economy Council’s Dr. Kuo-Yi Lim engaging in discussion with the earlier three speakers. The dialogue piqued the interests of many in attendance, with discourse continuing late into the subsequent lunch reception.

Day One: Dr. Kuo-Yi Lim (second from right), Member of the Future Economy Council and Managing Partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures, underlines the considerations on keeping up with the times in a dialogue moderated by The Business Times’ Associate Editor, Mr. Vikram Khanna, and joined by fellow panellists Dr. Joseph Liow, Mr. Jimmy Koh and Mr. Vasu Menon.

To cover more ground, Day 2’s programme was focused on the angle of Digital Transformation, a key theme to embrace in the forthcoming business year. As their companies have done, speakers invited for today shared their takes on embracing digitisation – Dentsu Aegis Network’s Mr. Adam Good, Canon Mailcom Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s Mr. Chris Martin, Océ Technologies B.V. Netherlands’ Mr. Joost van Rooij, Zalora Group’s Mr. Parker Gundersen & LinkedIn’s Mr. Stewart Lee.

As much as technology took centrestage for the day’s proceedings, the following panel discussion introduced a breath of fresh air to the insights shared, as panellists reiterated the importance of keeping the human touch alive in an automated world. Moderated by NTU’s Mr. Victor Tay, the aforementioned five speakers were joined by Huber’s Pte Ltd’s Mr. Ryan Huber and Instantly.sg’s Mr. Ewan Sou.

Day Two: Mr. Ewan Sou, Mr. Ryan Huber, Mr. Stewart Lee, Mr. Adam Good and Mr. Chris Martin form the panel discussing relationship-building and digitisation, in a dialogue moderated by NTU’s Chief Development Officer, Mr. Victor Tay.

The event came to a fitting close, with Canon proudly showcasing our state-of-the-art Canon Business Solutions in the exhibition area just outside the Grand Ballroom. The openness for businesses to embrace digitisation should be accompanied by applicable user-friendly technologies, as Canon staff readily demonstrated the capabilities of our business solutions to our guests.

With laughs, conversations and takeaways among event participants, we look forward to the next edition of our Think Big Leadership Business Series.

Check out our event photo gallery, featuring the rest of our celebrated speaker lineup:

Stay tuned to our Think Big website and our Canon Singapore LinkedIn page for more post-event coverage, and see you at our next event of this series!