SMEs get big boost from office automation giants
Giants like Canon adapting to tepid economy by targeting smaller Hong Kong firms with services and systems that boost efficiency
Amid a sluggish economy, some of the big guns of office automation are targeting Hong Kong's 300,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a range of packaged hardware, software and services to help boost efficiency in their businesses.
"It's a major trend that will make it more affordable for SMEs to stay competitive by adopting business solutions typically used by larger companies," Oliver Yau, the vice-president of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business, told the South China Morning Post last Friday.
Tokyo-based Canon is the latest office-automation giant to throw its hat in the market for packaged information-technology services catering to SMEs.
The company last Thursday unveiled its collaboration with business-software firm FlexWorkflow, and with office-records specialist Kerry Business Outsourcing Solutions - under Kerry Logistics - to address the requirements of that market.
Its launch followed those of Japanese rivals Ricoh and Konica Minolta, which separately introduced earlier this year their own SME-focused technology-services offerings.
Fuji Xerox, which is also based in Tokyo, has been offering its own line of information-technology and document-consultancy services to SMEs since last year.
Michael Fung, the senior director and general manager at Canon Hongkong, said: "There are some vendors doing similar things. But in terms of the full range of solutions, I think we have the biggest scale."
By working with partners, Canon's integrated records-solutions programme can deliver tailored, cost-effective service for SMEs to cover each stage of record management - from document collection, imaging and indexing to physical and electronic storage and records disposal. Fung added that Canon also offered SMEs monthly instalment plans.
Yau pointed out that the city's SME market was "large enough" for all these office-automation players to generate fresh business opportunities. Data from the Trade and Industry Department show that SMEs make up about 98 per cent of the city's business establishments and employ about 50 per cent of the workforce in the private sector.
Herbert Hui, the managing director at Fuji Xerox Hong Kong, said: "With cross-border activity increasing, we are seeing more mainland SMEs come to Hong Kong and require the same services that we offer to local SMEs."
Yau said the availability of various offerings from the big office-automation brands was helpful for SMEs to make comparisons of solutions they would have otherwise not known about.
Kerry Logistics is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Kerry Properties, which is part of the Kerry Group. The group controls the firm that publishes the South China Morning Post.