Never stop innovating: Haruto Iwata of Fujifilm India to BrandSutra

HARUTO IWATA, Managing Director, Fujifilm India, talks of his association of three decades with the company, witnessing its evolution and being a champion for innovation. Now, Fujifilm’s medical imaging technology business is aiding the country’s fight against the pandemic even as the focus remains on growing it as well as the core photography business


How have you seen brand Fujifilm evolve in your long association with the company since 1990?

With a three-decade association, Fujifilm is like home to me where I have seen myself and the company grow from strength to strength. The organization has shown consistent faith in my abilities by giving me the opportunity to expand our businesses in the majority of Asia. Before moving to India in 2017, I performed a similar role in Fujifilm Hong Kong during 2016-17 and was also heading the DSC and Optical Devices Business at Fujifilm China from 2015-17. At Fujifilm India, I intend to elevate Fujifilm’s core expertise in ‘image capturing’ and ‘image processing’ to be utilized across the medical, photo imaging, digital camera and graphic arts businesses, and expand the business to new heights with double-digit growth every year. With a common vision to cultivate a culture for photography and build tribes, we must be able to adapt quickly, be resilient, dynamic and diverse in our approach as the world progresses forward in a flash. I believe one should constantly look to evolve and should never stop innovating, challenging, changing and creating change in business and society for viable growth.

For over 85 years, Fujifilm has been a key player in the global imaging business and has helped shape the industry through its timely and relevant innovations. Led by Chairman Shigetaka Komori during the early 2000s, the brand responded to the decreasing demand for the colour-film business and brought in some fundamental reforms with the vision to thrive as a leading enterprise. Fujifilm reinvented itself as a one-stop solution provider in the imaging business, by reimagining the six businesses - Digital Imaging, Optical Devices, Highly Functional Material, Graphic Systems, Document Solutions and Healthcare.

In India, Fujifilm’s healthcare division has taken off in a big way. What are your observations about the India market and what are your top three focus areas currently?

Over the years, India has emerged to be amongst the best performing regions for Fujifilm, with its primary focus on offering healthcare solutions through AI and IoT. The medical imaging technology business forms the company’s core growth driver in the country, contributing maximum to its overall business. India is the fastest-growing market, and Fujifilm has been re-imagining its offerings to provide the best products and services in the imaging space here.

We are focused on creating valuable innovations in the medical field along with our growing photography business. To achieve this, our three focus areas are to (1) ‘Never Stop’ innovating for a healthier world by transforming the medical imaging industry (2) ‘Never Stop’ creating memories with our photo imaging, digital mirrorless and instant cameras along with our products in graphic arts, industrial and recording media and (3) ‘Never Stop’ taking on the challenge to contribute to the resolution of societal issues.

How is Fujifilm helping the country cope with the pandemic?

Our medical business in India is driven by Computer Radiology (CR) and Digital Radiology (DR) products, which facilitate the digitization of X-rays and ensure effective monitoring and controlling of disease outbreaks. To support the country during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, we introduced various initiatives to help people, starting with providing N95 respirators and surgical face masks along with PPE kits to healthcare professionals at PGIMER, Chandigarh. We also announced the launch of our digital campaign on ‘Connecting Hearts’ that aimed to spread positivity and joy by building a connection between patients and doctors. To reduce anxiety among patients, we introduced this unique patient-focused programme by sharing Instax cameras and films at hospitals to spread smiles among doctors and nurses working on the frontline.

You just launched the ‘Never Stop Creating Memories’ campaign and also associated with photographer Raghu Rai to capture undiscovered murals of the Ajanta Ellora caves to promote Fujifilm’s GFX series of cameras. How optimistic are you about cultivating a culture for photography through cameras in the age of mobile phones?

Our aim is to engage with camera enthusiasts and encourage the true spirit of photography among our consumers. With our recent ‘Never Stop Creating Memories’ campaign, we focused on creating shared memories that can be printed and preserved in our book of memoirs forever. On the other hand, we associated with ace photographer Raghu Rai for our GFX series of cameras to unfold an exciting new photography venture which not only captured our culture, architecture and beautiful landscape, but also showcased the excellence in our mirrorless cameras that help the photographer community to understand the power of capturing moments with Fujifilm cameras.

Our innovative range of cameras will continue to cultivate the culture of photography among consumers despite the growing influence of smartphones. New values, trends and subcultures can breathe new life into existing products, and effective marketing can help people enjoy them in new ways. The story of Instax is an example of how Fujifilm fulfils its mission of protecting and advancing photographic culture. In the new era of photography, self-expression has become the key focus area and heart of the matter. Our range of Instax cameras and photographs, with retro charm, seem to have become an ideal form for expressing one’s thoughts. They have allowed talented millennials and Gen-Z to promote, preserve and capture moments ‘now’ and cherish them forever in a creative manner.

What are the biggest challenges before you today?

We exist in a rapidly changing environment wherein we need to constantly evolve and evaluate ourselves. Agile is more than just a buzzword. Keeping abreast of the technology landscape involves more than just spending money on the newest technology tools. Great business leaders listen to what their staff tell them, and are prepared not just to change their business, but also to change themselves. Historically, leadership had been about selecting the right tools for the right job. Now, with digital tools so readily available to most organisations, the challenge of leadership is more about our habits and processes. Hence, adaptation is imperative to overcome any challenge.

What is a motto you live by as a business leader and an individual?

Businesses around the world are evolving at a fast pace. For a business leader to be successful, he or she should always be ready to adapt to the future. A continuous process of learning and adapting to change is the best way for a business leader to identify potential opportunities and grow the business. Keeping this in mind, we upgraded our approach at Fujifilm to be open to change during the COVID-19 situation. As an individual, I believe we should regularly introspect to formulate our style of business and ‘never stop’ believing and working towards a better tomorrow.

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