How FUJIFILM Uses Big Picture Thinking to Grow

jim dolce

GUEST: Jim Dolce, VP Technology and Strategic Business Development at FUJIFILM North America Corporation

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These days, when everyone has a digital camera in their pocket, you’d be hard pressed to think of a more obsolete sounding industry than camera film.

But if you think a company founded on camera film is as relevant as buggy whips, you’d be wrong.

Fujifilm has a current market capitalization of well over $21.8 billion. For comparison, Kodak, which started the film business, has a market cap of just $123 million.

How did Fuji not only survive but thrive? Big Picture Thinking.

We sat down with Jim Dolce, Vice President of Technology and Strategic Business Development at Fujifilm North America Corporation, to discuss how Fuji learned to adapt to grow and better serve its customers.

Seven years ago, the company had one customer in mind.

“You saw our customers as one customer, the soccer mom,” says Dolce. “I’m going to get this soccer mom to print her photos.”

But trying to get everyone to print all of their photos is not a good business plan.

“So, we started looking into this and remapping a whole new customer segmentation. The amount of opportunities out there were incredible, and we immediately had a list of a hundred different projects that we could take on in a very short time,” says Dolce.

Fuji faced a crossroads question: How do you take those hundred projects and whittle them down to find the best opportunities for creating long term value?

At the end of that quest for long-term sustainable businesses, Fujifilm focused on six priority business fields: digital imaging, healthcare, highly functional materials, document solutions, optical devices, and printing.

Each of these divisions is like its own startup; the company’s experience across those wide ranging industries has led to surprising synergies. For example, in healthcare, Fujifilm’s expertise in nanoscale substrates has helped it get into the world of regenerative medicine.

Instead of trying to sell expensive equipment, the company focuses on how to help their customers thrive.

“If our team can’t scale as the business scales, then we’re going to be the bottleneck.

Jim Dolce,

“It’s really about our customers and understanding their business models, understanding their profitability,” says Dolce. “How do we support that while still driving our profitability? I think those are some of the tricky challenges we deal with.”

We discussed in detail how Fujifilm adapted in our previous blog post, Challenges in a Dynamic Industry.

What About Film?

Fifteen years ago, when Dolce joined the company, customers developed 880 million rolls of film a year. This past year the number was about 15 million.

“I’ll often times say I work for Fujifilm, and people’s responses are ‘Do they still make film?’ Well, interestingly last year film use grew because it’s got a cache. There’s a little bit of a niche audience where, especially with the millennial generation, there are photographers who want to go back to using film. They want to experience that for the first time in their careers.”

But the company knows that digital photography isn’t going away. For example, on New Year’s Eve, Google Photos said over three billion photos were uploaded to the cloud.

Dolce thinks all those digital photos point to a brighter future.

“My wife and I were on vacation. I was sitting out by the poolside and there’s this family with a six-year old daughter,” remembers Dolce. “She had a smartphone and she was acting like a photographer with her parents. She’s posing them. She’s helping to move this way, move that way. And she’s just capturing pictures. I think we have a new generation that is growing up with photos as part of the air they breathe. What does that mean?”

Dolce is guessing there will be a growing need for products from Fujifilm.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Jim Dolce, Vice President Technology and Strategic Business Development at FUJIFILM North America Corporation. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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