Innovation is top of the agenda
Fujifilm was established in Japan in 1934 as a manufacturer of photographic film. With the coming of the digital age and the consequent decline in film photography, the company’s philosophy was to apply its skills and knowledge to new areas and markets. Today, Fujifilm continues to innovate and has diversified operations in every country, with more than 88,000 employees globally, and a significant budget for research and development.
Wessel Visser, Director: Corporate Group at Fujifilm South Africa, explains that innovation has always been at the top of the organisation’s agenda. ‘Over the years, Fuji has expanded into medical and industrial products, commercial printing, even skin care. Our pharmaceutical company is currently a world leader in antiretroviral technology. We’re a very innovative organisation and there’s always a drive to so something differently in order to do it better.’
Instant access to special memories
The company’s photographic imaging division manufactures and sells a range of equipment and materials for both the commercial and consumer markets. In South Africa, demand for these products had declined by more than 10%. ‘People are taking far more photos than they used to, but they’re not storing them centrally or printing them anymore,’ explains Visser.
‘Gone are the days of the old family or school albums. Millions of photographs of special, shared experiences are now stored on hard drives or cell phones and people never look at them again. Fujifilm wanted to give our customers instant and easy access to those memories, those special moments in their lives when they shared a unique experience with friends and family. We wanted to use the latest technology to do so with the least degree of risk. Our customers should feel safe and secure, storing and accessing their photographs from wherever they were, using whichever device they choose.’
As a result, Fujifilm South Africa decided to launch the Imagine platform in the local market. The platform was aimed at not only stimulating the demand for its printing products and services, but also reach a new generation of amateur and professional photographers who have no place that’s safer and more convenient to centralise their digital images.’
Imagine the future
‘Imagine is an online, mobile, and in-store digital image storing, printing, and gift ordering platform built on cloud-based technology,’ Visser explains. ‘It allows people to retrieve their photos from various locations and store them in a central repository. From there, they can place orders for products like photobooks, canvas prints, and personalised gifts such as calendars and bags.’ The platform is linked to retailers and commercial printers that print and deliver the final products.
‘What makes this platform the first of its kind in the world is the fact that it’s entirely cloudbased, so it doesn’t rely on a particular operating system,’ says Visser. ‘It’s integrated with all the major social media sites, and can be accessed from multiple devices – your smartphone, laptop, or a kiosk in a store.’
Fujifilm in South Africa wanted to conduct a pilot project for Imagine. ‘We didn’t know how big the demand would be, or when people would be loading high volumes or large images,’ says Visser. ‘To invest in our own infrastructure and then be able to cater for this variability, was just not an option.’