Guest Q&A with Myles Lawlor, Digital Project Manager, Digital Marketing at Canon Australia

Q: Tell us about the new service that Canon Australia is getting ready to launch?
A: Canon’s sole objective is to help people get more out of their imaging experiences and last week we announced the missing piece in the imaging journey from capture to output with our upcoming online image management service.  Simply and securely in one place, Canon’s new service will empower Australians to take control of their ever-expanding image collections and unlock the potential to do more with them – regardless of what camera or device they were taken on. Registrations are now open for people to request an invitation for a free trial of the service later this year ahead of the public launch in 2014. User feedback is really important to help shape the service during this trial period, so we’ll also be encouraging participants to share their thoughts and suggest ideas for features.

Q: What was the impetus for the service in Australia?
A: Canon, as an imaging company, is completely focused on understanding what people are doing with imaging and looking for innovative ways to help them lead better and richer lives. With more images being captured than ever before, imaging has never been so important in people’s lives but the flipside is that they are overwhelmed by their ever-growing collections. Because the imaging experience is also disjointed with solutions here and there, they don’t know where to start or who to trust with managing their images. The unfortunate result is people being prevented from enjoying their personal collections or doing more with them. As a trusted partner in people’s imaging lives, we saw a natural opportunity to solve the complexity of managing Australians’ personal image collections – simply, securely and in one place – regardless of what device they were taken on. And because Canon only cares about helping you do more with imaging, the service is designed with an emphasis on complete privacy of user’s images and data, and enabling them total control. Use of Canon's image management service will not grant Canon any rights to use customers' images in any way.

Q: What are the key benefits of the Canon service?
A: Canon’s image management service will inherit our imaging DNA and that means an inherent focus now and into the future on helping people do more with their imaging, from capture to management to output. Microsoft is constantly producing innovative solutions, services and now devices, and our combined expertise will allow users to make the most of the photos they capture, on whatever device they use. For us, the new service’s key feature is that it grants users total control over their personal image collection – their most cherished memories or prized possessions in many cases. The headache of image management will be gone as users let the auto-upload feature with smart bandwidth management file and store images in one central, easy to access location. Organising and searching for images is also quicker and more straightforward than ever, with an intuitive interface and auto sorting by date and device, as well as easy tagging and album creation. On top of this, the service’s integration with select social media pulls together the comments from each online platform to create a unified experience.

Q: What opportunity did you see in the market in Australia?
A: Future growth as an industry comes from how we enable people to do more across the full imaging journey from capture to manage to output. There’s tremendous opportunity to add value beyond simply selling hardware and this announcement is another example where Canon is investing for future growth based on the experience throughout the total imaging lifecycle. People are taking more images than ever before, and on a wide variety of devices. The passion for imaging is unprecedented, with 10% of the world’s images being taken in the past 12 months, and over 250 billion images currently on Facebook. It is staggering! However, these images are currently stored and shared in many forms in different places: social networks, cameras, memory cards, hard drives or just on our computers. They don’t know what they’ve got or where they are saved. They’re scared of losing them and more importantly, aren’t able to get value out of them through sharing, enjoying, printing and displaying. There is a clear problem that we can help to solve.

Q: Why did you choose the Microsoft platform for this product?
A: Security of users’ data was our main priority when looking at the different platform options. After all, by trusting us to store their photographs, we’re responsible for some of our customers’ most valued memories and possessions. We went through an extensive evaluation process weighing various platforms against our stringent data security protocols and ensure our users’ data is never compromised. Microsoft satisfied and complemented Canon’s policies with their own and the Azure platform was the obvious choice.

Q: What other platform offerings did you look at?
A: Canon looked a variety of platform offerings from all the major providers, but the Microsoft Azure platform best matched our requirements, our values and our priorities.

Q: What specific features in Windows Azure are key in delivering the new service?
A: Given our stringent security requirements, there were three key features that stood out. First and foremost, the Windows Azure geo-redundant capabilities mean that our customers’ photographs are safely and securely backed up. We also wanted to offer a service allowing users to easily and safely log-in via their identities from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other providers – a feature made possible thanks to Windows Azure Access Control. Finally, we needed the service to integrate with existing Canon systems and securely connect with our users’ applications. Windows Azure ticked every box, allowing us to deploy a service meeting our high expectations.

Q: Are you looking at developing an app for Windows Phone and Windows 8?
A: Absolutely! We want to offer our users the best possible experience, and incorporating apps across the Windows platforms is key to this, especially with the impressive and ever-growing number of devices in the market, and the upcoming availability of Windows 8.1. In addition, mobile is a very important and significant part of the imaging experiences of today’s users and certainly one we have front of mind. 

Q: How can Australians trial the service?
A: Registrations are now open for people to request an invitation for a free trial of the service later this year ahead of the public launch in 2014. We encourage people to register their interest at canon.com.au/manage. Alternatively, if you’re at TechEd drop into the Canon stand on the show floor! Once you receive an invite, you can set up an account to test the features and provide feedback so that we’re able to build the online image management service that is perfect for Australian needs and seamless in operation.