Canon’s ‘Frontiers of Innovation Forum 2020’ – Platform for future insights

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The Canon ‘Frontiers of Innovation Forum 2020’ is uniting industry and sector experts under one online platform to foster industry learning during the COVID-19 crisis. Since it was launched in 2016, the forum aims to provide a platform for driving innovation and ideas, gain insights and experiences, and generate solutions.

Frontiers of Innovation 2020 takes the format of an online weekly broadcast series, discussing key evolving trends and the impact of the pandemic on individuals and economies. The online series will also explore how different sectors are preparing themselves for the post-Covid-19 phase.

The weekly Forum will continue to outline innovative technologies and operational efficiencies as in previous editions – albeit via a new virtual platform, on Canon Middle East’s LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/canon-emea/) – and analyse how different sectors are preparing themselves for the post-Covid-19 phase.

With industries entering the second phase and opening up more to business, the Forum complements GCC governments’ strategies to develop cultures of innovation, and Canon is actively supporting public and private sectors as they strive to find innovative solutions to the challenges of modern living post crisis.

The first discussion – ‘The Effect of Covid-19 on Digital Transformation’ – streamed live last week included Muhammad Chbib, CEO, Tradeling; Edwardo Aspillaga, Digital Transformation Strategy Lead, IBM and Hesham Safwat, CEO, Jumia Egypt.

Serial entrepreneur Chbib said the crisis is creating mindset changes prompted by adaption, exposing companies that don’t have robust business models and underlining the importance of quality investors. “I don’t mean to sound harsh but this cleansing is super important – a lot of things have been funded in recent years that don’t deserve funding under global standards.”

Aspillaga said changes in the last three months are the culmination of four years of transformation. “Before it was dependent on early adapters but now people from different age brackets and demographics are using digital on a daily basis.”


He cited seven key developments, starting with the empowering of remote workforces; increased collaboration; greater virtual engagement with customers; growth in remote access to all business aspects (training and talent as well as products and services); agility and transparency; cyber security; and continuity of supply chains – and stressed digitisation is about “people first” and not just technology.

Chbib said while the remote migration has led to more efficiencies and less of a ‘control mentality’, he didn’t believe staff should work at home forever. “Sitting in a room with a bunch of people is always helpful – period.”

Safwat was asked about how digital transformation will be rolled out in Africa. “We have seen countries investing more in their internet services and supporting local SMEs, who have been mostly affected by the crisis.”

The level of GCC public sector service digitisation is “top of the range,” added Aspillaga. Chbib agreed Gulf governments are leading the way and good role models and long-term strategies are derived from experience.

Further drivers will be AR, which will lead to more personalisation, the roll-out of 5G and 3D printing “will change everything from cutlery to fashion, as well as the just-in-time supply chain.” Despite the recessionary mood, Chbib said now is the time to invest.

“I think one massive change from COVID-19 is people realise how dependent they are on China – it’s a tectonic shift in world politics. I see centres of excellence of production emerging in India, Africa and South America.”

Mai Youssef, Corporate Communications and Marketing Services Director, Canon Africa, Middle East and Turkey said: “Now in its third edition, the online series will help us gain insights into critical topics that impact and shape future industries during this critical time. It will help us learn from each other’s experiences and inspire dialogue among key stakeholders, to see how we can continuously innovate in future. This underpins Canon’s philosophy and complements the universal focus on environmental and economic sustainability.”

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