Canon U.S.A.'s CREATE Advisory Group: Building Value through Relationships
PHILADELPHIA—May 13, 2015—I was very fortunate to have been invited to join Canon U.S.A.’s spring 2015 CREATE (Canon Reach-Out Advisory Team) event, which took place April 12-17 in Venlo, The Netherlands, and Poing, Germany. Generally this honor is reserved at our organization for Mark Michelson, our esteemed Editorial Director but, in a wonderful twist of fate, I was able to represent NAPCO Media this time around.
Click on the video below to watch Canon U.S.A.'s Frances Cicogna discuss the value of the CREATE Team:
Looking at this event with a publisher’s business development "lens," the inherent value is immediately apparent. This type of user group model provides insight for Canon into both the successes and challenges of their clients, and enables an opportunity to engage at a level not possible when all participants are caught up in the daily "whirlwind" of business life. Conversely, there was a great deal of knowledge to be gained for the attendees in terms of Canon’s culture, new solutions and concern for the continued success of its clients’ businesses. This open exchange of ideas and information was discussed against a backdrop of larger, overall industry concerns, which have impact on all participants involved. This interactive model made for a very compelling dialog.
From Venlo to Poing and all stops in-between, Canon U.S.A. provided a wonderfully enjoyable experience that forged new relationships and deepened existing ones. There is no substitute for the intimate conversations that happen over meals, on the train, walking the floor in a Client Experience Center, or in conference rooms. Here are my main takeaways:
- Excitement. We had an opportunity in Venlo to meet the team responsible for developing the new Canon Océ VarioPrint i300 cut-sheet device. Their level of enthusiasm for the project and the future impact this new inkjet press offering will have in the marketplace were palpable. The effect this had on our group was immediate, with so many great questions coming from the CREATE attendees.
- The "Ah Ha" Moment. After a very informative, guided tour of the extremely impressive Poing facility, we reconvened to an intimate conference room to discuss our overall impressions of several products in development. The general consensus from the printers was that they needed to rethink their entire business models based on the insights gained. It was a very powerful statement that engaged all of us in a much deeper conversation about the impact of digital solutions.
- Relationships. I’ve been around the printing industry for the better part of my career. The one constant has been the collegial nature of this industry. At the CREATE event, we shared our individual business needs, but this was done in the context of the overall health of the industry. Although the organizations represented by the Advisory Team can be competitive in their day-to-day business, that didn’t impede the free flow of information sharing and ideas among the group. This is one of the great strengths of our industry, and something that will drive further innovation and ensure its future success.
I am grateful to the team at Canon U.S.A. for providing all of the spring 2015 CREATE attendees with an experience that created an environment for forging new relationships and diving into business concerns. The trip was as fun as it was informative. Hopefully, my phone will ring more often with invitations to attend these types of events. Perhaps I should ask our IT department to forward Mark Michelson’s incoming phone calls directly to me instead. That should do the trick.