Exclusive Interview: Mr. Minoru Usui, Global President, Seiko Epson Corporation

 
Mr. Minoru Usui, Global President, Seiko Epson Corporation

Mr. Minoru Usui, Global President, Seiko Epson Corporation

Mr. Minoru Usui, Global President of Seiko Epson Corporation, is a legend in the worldwide printing industry. He shot to fame in 1993, because of his pioneering developments in the field of inkjet printing technologies, notably with the invention of Epson’s famous Micro Piezo print heads. Since then, he has moved from strength to strength, guiding the company through the turbulent consumer and business technological environments over the years. He has successfully maintained Seiko Epson as a company both driven by useful innovation, and grounded in ensuring that these innovations reach their intended audiences worldwide.

Since the unveiling of their ‘SE15’ Corporate Vision in 2009, Seiko Epson’s global strategies has concentrated on four focus areas, both for emerging and developed markets—printing, visual communications, quality of life and manufacturing innovations. Product development has primarily been for the segments of home, office, industry and sports, personal health care, or in the field of medical devices. While sensing and microdisplay technologies play a key role in many areas of Seiko Epson’s development and business, Micro Piezo forms a core technology for printing devices across segments. Consumer and photo-quality printing remains an important part of Epson’s overall printing strategies.

Better Photography’s K Madhavan Pillai converses with Mr. Minoru Usui.

K Madhavan Pillai (KMP): Seiko Epson seems to be driven by ‘practical’ innovation. Many of Epson new technologies seem be market oriented. Yet, many are quite radically different to the point of introducing completely new directions for the company. For example, innovations in watches to printers to projectors to the Moverio. Could you comment on this?

Mr. Minoru Usui (MU): To date we have mainly been known as a consumer company, but we are now seeking to expand into a variety of new markets. But it is not all new ground for us. Epson’s strategy is to generate customer value by creating original products based on unique core technologies. All of our printers, from consumer photo models and business inkjets through to industrial printing systems for labels and textiles, are based on the same Micro Piezo technology. And the Moverio you mentioned, uses the same core microdisplay technology as our world-leading 3LCD projectors. Therefore while Epson is seeking to expand the scope of its business and attract new customers, our products in these areas are based on the same core technologies.

Going forward we will continue to refine these technologies as we seek to generate new customer value in yet more markets.

KMP: You have famously said… “It is my dream that one day, everything will be printed by Epson.​” Epson has already gone a long way in the world of printing. How do you see your dream unfolding in the future?

MU: It’s true that Epson has driven considerable printing innovations in the past, but to my mind we have just started to make that dream come true. In countries like India, for example, our aim is to allow people to print freely without having to worry about the cost and we have achieved this here with our L series and M series printers.

“Make no mistake, our technology offers customers genuine benefits in terms of costs and environmental burden. And we are continuing to innovate.”

Going forward, our original Micro Piezo inkjet technology, which is at the heart of all our printers, has the potential to revolutionize office printing, which has to date been dominated by laser printers, and commercial and industrial printing, which have been dominated by analog methods. Make no mistake, our technology offers customers genuine benefits in terms of costs and environmental burden. And we are continuing to innovate. We have recently taken this technology a stage further by developing PrecisionCore, a state-of-the-art inkjet technology that offers the high speed, quality and scalability required in a variety of new usage scenarios.

KMP: Your new Corporate Vision SE15 strategy is extremely interesting and seems very consumer product oriented. Is Seiko Epson more interested in the consumer oriented marketplace?

MU: Epson’s strength has traditionally been in consumer products. However, as mentioned above we are now branching out into a wide variety of commercial and industrial markets. Our aim is to maintain our base in consumer products while leveraging our technology into products that will capture new customers in a wide range of fields.

KMP: Of particular interest is your focus on New Core Technologies. Could you explain this with a few examples?

MU: Epson aims to refine its core technologies to drive innovations in four key areas: printing, visual communications, quality of life and manufacturing. In quality of life, for example, Epson intends to leverage its core sensing technology, for example in products such as our Pulsense range of pulse monitors, our Runsense GPS monitoring devices for runners and our M tracer for Golf, which provides golfers with detailed and accurate feedback on their swing.

“With customers facing issues such as labour shortages, greater productivity demands I believe this business has the potential to grow significantly in the years ahead.”

We also boast a number of robot technologies that we will combine with our sensing technologies to provide original and low-cost factory automation solutions to companies in both developed and developing markets. With customers facing issues such as labour shortages, greater productivity demands I believe this business has the potential to grow significantly in the years ahead.

KMP: Photographic printing is a small part of the world of printing. The coming of social media and image sharing online has caused some radical shifts, perhaps both in a positive and negative sense. Could you tell us something about the potential you see in the high quality printing segment? Where do you see it heading in the future?

MU: As you mention, there has been a considerable change in photo printing, professionals and photo enthusiasts still demand top quality printouts using products like Epson’s A3 graphic and large-format printers. I don’t see this demand going away. On the other hand, the shift to the internet has also opened up new business opportunities, for example online ordering of personalized items and fine art for the office and the home.

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