Innovation & Tech Today: Mark Yamamoto, Tell us about the success of the FUJIFILM digital cameras (especially the X-Series cameras in North America), and how they have impacted the market.
Mark Yamamoto: Digital cameras have been a great equalizer in the photography market because now every consumer has access to a wide range of digital cameras with a variety of features and benefits. However, the award-winning line of FUJIFILM X-Series cameras and FUJINON lenses has set a new standard in revolutionizing the total photography experience. Today, we see photo enthusiasts and professional photographers embracing the X-Series because of its class-leading color reproduction, extraordinary image quality, and thoughtful design.
As smartphones have introduced picture-taking to countless new users, we see an exciting “photo renaissance,” and it is our hope to enrich that experience with extraordinary imaging products and valuable personalized photofinishing gifts.
I&T Today: What are your thoughts about the emergence of mirrorless camera systems? How will mirrorless cameras affect hobbyists and intermediate and professional shooters?
MY: Mirrorless camera systems are changing the way consumers and professional photographers experience photography. Today’s mirrorless cameras are compact, lightweight, beautifully designed and – most importantly – deliver an outstanding imaging result that rivals large and heavy DSLR systems. When you incorporate these elements together, something special happens – end users become inspired again to experience and explore their photographic passions. For Fujifilm, this is part of our core mission – to enrich the lives of people everywhere. We believe the X-Series is bringing joy back to photographers.
I&T Today: You were the Division President of Imaging during the transition from film to digital in the U.S. What were the biggest obstacles you encountered? How did people first perceive digital cameras, and what led to their wider acceptance and use?
MY: Successfully transitioning during any market disruption is always challenging. Fujifilm faced its own challenges head-on by supporting and working with our retail partners, where we invested heavily in photo output infrastructure, and raised awareness about the total photography experience – not just shooting images, but also printing unique and exciting photo products. For the first time, consumers saw first-hand the value of personalized photo products, including books, cards, calendars, custom-made picture gifts, wall décor, and large canvas prints and how they could enrich their photo-sharing experience.
This strategy allowed Fujifilm to make a seamless transition with the market shift, while at the same time diversifying the photo market with high quality printers and kiosks that gave consumers new ways to bring their photos to life.
I&T Today: How did overseeing the revolution from film to digital at Fujifilm influence or reshape your business perspective looking forward?
MY: Supporting photographers and photography are at the core of Fujifilm’s commitment to success. During market transitions, our perspective remains centered on the end-user, and the quality of their total photographic experience.
The transition to digital has created new opportunities for Fujifilm as we pursue innovative ways to enrich peoples’ lives through photography. Smartphone users take more than two trillion pictures annually, and we predict that number to be almost countless in the years to come. So for Fujifilm, our opportunity to reach new users, with the strength of our imaging and color reproduction heritage, is very exciting to us.
I&T Today: How have you adapted your customer relations policy to this time of greater transparency, direct customer involvement in sales, and new online and standard buying patterns? How does that translate to digital cameras and products?
MY: Our end-users are the driving force behind our commitment to innovation and leadership in the market, and the best way for us to achieve success is to listen to our consumers often and carefully.
To help accomplish this, we also made expanding our dialogue with retail partners a priority, because in many ways, they are the first experience that a consumer will have with our company. By strongly supporting our business partners, we hope users know that we are putting their experience first. Additionally, as consumers change how they communicate and share information, we have embraced engaging them on social media, at more end-user events, and with them at tradeshows where we can interact on a personal level.
Creating new photo imaging products and services is also crucial to engaging consumers and enriching their experience with Fujifilm. By leading the photography market and creating new ways for end-users to enjoy their images, Fujifilm can continue to innovate and deliver the goods and services that people demand.
I&T Today: Not all companies anticipate change in technology, and some even resist it. It seems Fujifilm has embraced change and innovated its business in an agile fashion. Where does that philosophy come from?
MY: The Fujifilm philosophy is this: Value from Innovation. At Fujifilm, that means we should constantly challenge the standard way of doing business, how we interact with and understand our customers, and rethink what can be achieved with a vast collection of unique and exciting core technologies.
When we look at other companies that we admire, we see similar attributes that include constant change, continuous self-challenging and an appreciation for customer feedback. There are some great companies that exemplify these characteristics today, and we believe consumers acknowledge and support these brands the most.