According to Yasunori Ogawa, President and CEO, Seiko Epson Corporation, India is their fastest growing market, and they would like to seize the potential and invest in key areas. Excerpts from an interview with Thomas George and Sunil Rajguru…
DQ: So many changes have taken place in the last 6-7 years. Till 2019 they called it the Old Normal, then came the New Normal. Now in the post-pandemic era, we would like to know your views on the kind of business that is happening and the latest trends. Have you as a company made changes?
Yasunori Ogawa: So, just to emphasize a little changed in many aspects, I think the pandemic just accelerated existing trends. I became president, just when the pandemic started and I’m very conscious of the big differences from before and now. For instance, in manufacturing, it used to be in big factories and highly concentrated. After the pandemic it started to get suddenly dispersed.
Another area where I have seen a big change is in awareness of environmental issues. For example, it used to be just in Europe, but now all over the world people are starting to get concerned about the environment.
There are a lot of issues in the world recently. There’s the war in Ukraine and inflation. A lot of countries, not India noticeably, have economic issues.
Against all this uncertainty, we established a long-range vision and last year we established our corporate purpose, which is based on our efficient compact and precise innovation.
DQ: At the end of the pandemic, what are the leading technologies that the world and Epson will be adopting?
Yasunori Ogawa: We think we can change the world with inkjet technology. We have digital inkjet technology.
In the office, the mainstream printing technology is lasers. But by changing to inkjet, we can save considerable amounts of electricity and also dramatically significantly fewer replacement parts. In the area of commercial industrial printing, for example, textile printing, we can change from the traditional analog processes to digital inkjet. We can save vast amounts of water, use much less ink and eliminate costly printing plates and make the whole process much shorter.
One of the advantages of our inkjet technology is that you can use an almost unlimited number of inks. So, for example, UV inks for textile printing, dye-based inks, pigment inks, and you can even print for displays. There is immense potential there. Another thing that I am very hopeful about is 3D printing. We’ve been developing a new 3D printer which is very near to release and we’re just working with our partners on the final stages.
We don’t sell this in India yet. We’ve just developed an injection molding machine which is very good for the small-scale. We also have an interesting technology called dry fiber technology. It’s a recycling technology that uses almost no water and we can recycle paper or fabrics. Our business cards are made of recycled paper. The advantage of this technology is that if you compress the paper a bit more, you can make packaging materials, like a replacement for polystyrene. If you compress it even further, you can make a hard plastic-like substance out of paper.
I would like to mention robotics technology. We have very high precision robots and have very high expectations for them here in India, where the manufacturing industry is growing so rapidly.
DQ: How many of these can we expect in India and how do you look at the Indian market and your plans?
Yasunori Ogawa: We see a lot of growth potential in the Indian market, and we would like to increase our investment here. The growth markets we are looking at are in the office printing market, commercial industrial printing and also the robotics business. We see very high potential especially in India and in other regions of the world. If you look at the Epson’s global market, out of that India is the fastest growing, and we would like to seize the potential and invest in those key areas. I’m aware that India has a lot of very talented engineers and some really excellent companies. I would like to increase our cooperation with Indian companies. We can call it co-creation and that’s a very important area for us.
DQ: What about the engineering, research and development front?
Yasunori Ogawa: I think areas like engineering and software would be our initial focuses. Areas where we can increase the value that we provide to our customers. In the future, there is a production area that we need to look at.
DQ: In the last 7 years, Epson has doubled in India. Where do you see it going in the next five years?
Yasunori Ogawa: As I said earlier, India is the fastest growing market for Epson and the Indian market itself is growing rapidly. I want to emphasize India as a country over the next few years but I’m not going to commit to doubling!