Takashi Mitsumori was appointed Managing Director, Polycom Japan in April 2015. In this Q&A he discusses market growth opportunities, work style trends in Japan, and the impact of technology in his life.
What are your top priorities in your new role? Developing our business functions and the growth of our business here in Japan will of course be my first priority area. Secondly, within Japan, we will align ourselves strongly with our global team so we can work together to address the needs of our customers and partners for increased satisfaction. I have a highly professional, strong and capable team and I believe that our combined knowledge and skills can bring bigger, better and more productive results to the region.
Last but not least, my third priority will be to ensure Polycom’s greater presence in market. We have a responsibility to ensure Japanese companies are becoming more aware of our technology and benefitting from our work style innovation solutions. We also have a responsibility to build closer relationships with our partners and ensure our constant support in sales enablement and training.
Where do you think the most significant growth will occur in your market in the next few years? Japanese companies are increasingly moving towards becoming more global in their ways of working and operating. The enterprise field is just one area where there is great opportunity for Polycom to showcase the benefits our collaboration technology to achieve an organisation’s business objectives. We have a strong customer base in Japan and a good partner network, but I believe we have a lot more space for growth here.
Further, our solutions have helped many organisations in Japan. These customers are from a variety of industries such as healthcare, education and finance who use our technology to increase productivity and obtain operational excellence. Examples of this can be seen through customers such as Oak Lawn Marketing, the company which owns consumer brand Shop Japan. Employees at this company rely on Polycom video collaboration solutions to have internal and external meetings over a secure network, share training, interview potential candidates, review sales and orders, and share product launches through video. Oak Lawn Marketing is a great example of how the power of video collaboration can extend throughout an organisation’s network
How is the Japanese market unique (in terms of collaborative technology innovation and adoption) to other regions in Asia Pacific? Japan is indeed a very unique market when it comes to technology; we have a lot of innovative technologies and advanced products here. However, often what is offered to customers is not a unified, total solution. The market is competitive in all areas of collaborative technology, which includes video, web, and audio conferencing. However, many of the technology offerings are standalone solutions; this highlights that the market is still not mature and customers are not fully realising the productivity benefits of these technologies. Also, Japanese customers are very particular about quality; we are in a great position to address this as Polycom solutions and our high level of service always place our customer’s needs at the centre of everything we do. To support this level of service we have a Tokyo lab to replicate key customer environments and pre-test integration prior to deployment to ensure smooth implementations.
Why is work style innovation so important to Japanese organisations? A key trend in Japan is a bigger focus on Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Since the devastation of the earthquake in 2011, organisations have concentrated more on BCP to identify operational issues in the event of emergencies and to promote more resilient ways of working.
One of the biggest changes to Japanese work style and culture has been the increasing participation of females in the workforce, and in management positions. Previously, women in the workforce were a minority, especially in bigger enterprises and at leadership levels, as family responsibilities took priority. The change is a great trend socially and is being actively encouraged by the government. Collaborative technology, such as video conferencing from desktop, mobile devices and the cloud, is extremely important to help support this trend, enable flexible working and improve work/life balance.
Generally people in Japan have long commutes to work especially in big cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The increased congestion and time taken for travelling to and from work can result in loss of productivity and employee efficiency. This is another reason why work style innovation through technology should change how we do business.
What can you tell customers about how Polycom addresses their quality requirements? Customers are continually telling us that our superior quality, flexibility and interoperability are of great importance. We are proud to be a partner-led business and have high profile alliances with partners such as Hitachi, NTT and NEC who integrate Polycom technologies into their own technology offerings. I see an opportunity to work even more closely with our valued partners to ensure the best quality control and increased ease of use for our customers.
In addition to products, the quality of service also matters and this is another area which Polycom excels in. We focus on helping customers achieve consistent video collaboration quality and increased ease of use, to make any technology implementation easy and efficient to use. Again our Tokyo lab helps here, by replicating key customer environments we can ensure that deployment has minimal disruption and our customers are up and running as quickly as possible.
What are the most crucial lessons you have learned in your experience? Customer value, employee value, shareholder value – this is the sequence of priority for Japanese companies. I have learned that it is the structure of this approach which sets us apart from firms on Wall Street, where shareholders rank ahead of other stakeholders. This has been one of the most important lessons in my career. It has helped me avoid miscommunication between Japanese thinking and global operations, and enable strong relationships.
Tell us what interested you about Polycom?
Since its brand relaunch in 2012 and transformation to a software-led company, Polycom continues its journey of being the global leader in video collaboration solutions. The company is at the forefront of innovation to take the power of human collaboration to the next stage. Even before I joined, as an external observer I could see this change taking place in the company and really wanted to be a part of these exciting innovations. I am very excited to be part of this team and Polycom’s evolution.
What is your favourite Polycom solution or tool? I have Polycom’s personal telepresence HDX solution set up in my home office, enabling me to have High Definition video collaboration meetings anytime. In addition, I am equipped with video collaboration solutions on my personal desktop and mobile devices so can connect face-to-face with my team and colleagues anywhere, wherever I am. A few months ago, I was struck with a rare disease which caused some muscle weakness. Thanks to Polycom technology, I have been able to balance my work with my rehabilitation therapy and stay productive.
Prior to joining Polycom, of course I was familiar with video conferencing technology. However, its use was limited to conferencing rooms only and never at home. But now that I have experienced the wonderful benefits of face to face collaboration from anywhere at any time, I can’t go back to any other way of working!