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To Our Stakeholders

Yoshinori “Jake” Yamashita President and CEO

Our growth is the sum total of employee growth: striving groupwide to deliver Fulfillment through Work

Jake Yamashita
President and CEO

 

 
Tackling tough times

Fiscal 2021, which ended March 31, 2022, reminded me as never before of the enduring truth that “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” During the year, life with COVID-19 became a certainty of sorts in the daily lives and behavioral patterns of many. In Japan, people seemed to have begun taking the pandemic in stride. They also had to deal with the impacts of ongoing shortages of semiconductors and plastics and rising prices for all sorts of goods and services. Then along came global price hikes and goods shortages associated with Ukraine invasion and a lockdown in Shanghai. And even when manufacturing was possible in China, dockworker and truck driver shortages in the United States significantly delayed goods shipments to customers.

These piled on and protracted developments completely unimaginable. We can no longer be certain that the past will predict the future. Preparing for tomorrow is fraught with difficulty. We have naturally deliberated everything exhaustively from business continuity planning perspectives. Having specifics in place for the next steps rather than armchair theoretics is vital for us if we are to avoid falling by the wayside. It is a reminder of the importance of maintaining a management structure that fosters decision-making and zero-based thinking and broadens our options.

The year under review also amply demonstrated that peace is essential for globalization to progress. Efforts to become more competitive mean that supply chains for companies everywhere, us included, tend to be long and complex. This all works well when things are peaceful and logistics are stable, but falls apart amid disruptions to such stability. Pursuing the supply chain holy grail of quality, cost, delivery, and service is great. Lose control over delivery, however, and the whole structure can come crashing down. That is the reality we confront, and we must establish better processes. There is no time to waste.

 
 
The value of working and our approach

When we committed to becoming a digital services company focusing on the world of work, people sometimes asked if we were forsaking our manufacturing roots. Some companies certainly have adopted a strategy of outsourcing hardware production and specializing in services. Our approach, however, is to partner with customers. Edge devices are central to achieving our goals.

People produce all sorts of data from work. It is vital to capture the necessary and valuable data from the enormous volumes generated through work. High-quality data enhances analysis and artificial intelligence-based work's effectiveness. Even if you build a great platform, without good edge devices, you will only get meaningless information, and it will be difficult to create an ecosystem where data can bring value. Our RICOH Smart Integration co-creation platform serves as a common global service delivery platform. Further enhancing the functionality and performance of edge devices will become even more invaluable.

Because people are central to work processes, it is essential for them to be creative, come up with constructive ideas, and broaden their perspectives. Humans are analog beings in an increasingly digital world. So, we need to make artificial intelligence, systems and networks, and other digital platforms more accessible and user-friendly for people. I believe that the Ricoh Group can make this happen. Although AI and other machines were traditionally limited in capabilities, the possibilities have expanded greatly as they have evolved rapidly.

We adopted Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in 2018. In overhauling our business processes, we began rethinking the tasks that people should perform. Assume for a moment that one robot can automate one business process. If 70 robots and 50 employees can together do what 100 people handled before, will the other 50 people have nothing to do? Should we be happy that we can halve the labor costs? No. We should be delighted to have freed those people up to take on new and creative work. We should invest in educating and reskilling these people accordingly.

By and large, companies have traditionally structured themselves around tasking employees to drive corporate growth. Going forward, corporate growth should be an extension of employees’ growth and both aligned. These people should clearly envision what work they want to pursue. As well as identifying skills and ideas of our employees through the talent management system, we now have more opportunities to follow their growth through surveys and other vehicles. Self-motivated employees who can sharpen their capabilities and want to tackle new challenges will drive corporate growth.

 
 
Always close to our customers—our tireless challenges
Jake Yamashita President and CEO

Many people readily associate Ricoh with copiers or the environment. We appreciate this, as it testifies to the concerted efforts of our management and employees over the years. We have advocated environmental management since 1998. Our accumulated endeavors since in a progressive approach to ESG have been the reason customers and dealers worldwide select us as their preferred partner. This is why we refer to ESG as future finance.

We know for certain that our past investments and accomplishments are paying off. We will capitalize that data in looking ahead. Also, investments in current and future finances through ESG activities must take us closer to our goals. If they do not, then we should halt such investments. Shareholders and other investors would never tolerate activities that have no rationale, and these efforts might achieve little to show for it. We will keep this in mind while deliberating our next MTP.

I reflected on how we would like customers to view us in coming years based on all of this. I would be delighted if they concluded that Ricoh is always there for them, ready to lend a helping hand for their work needs. Of course, we take pride in the fact that we have always been there for our customers, and we hope to continue to use the power of digital technology to solve our customers’ problems and be a visible presence for them. We will endeavor to direct all investments, human resource development, and management decision-making toward that goal, and we will continue striving to deliver outstanding products and services.

It is precisely because we are facing difficult times that we are boldly taking on new challenges with our eyes fixed on the opportunities that lie ahead. The Ricoh Group will continue its efforts to realize Fulfillment through Work so that our stakeholders will recognize our efforts with high expectations.