Following a meeting at TID’s headquarters in Stegen am Ammersee of TID Informatik GmbH (TID) and Japanese Digital Printing & Solutions Co. (DPS) in early September 2018, TID gladly accepted DPS’s invitation to visit its partner in Japan. Signing the partner agreement was the most important topic on the agenda during the visit. The agreement was signed at the DPS office in Tokyo. Managing director of TID, Rafi Boudjakdjian and project manager Stefan Luber spent a week in Japan and attended various business meetings.
Background: Strengthen Business Ties with Japan
The partnership between Osaka-based DPS and TID was established in 2015. That Japan laid emphasis on foreign companies, had become obvious upon the first contacts. Without recommendations and a well-established partnership with Japanese companies, it may be difficult for such a company to take root, especially if it offers products little known on the domestic market. The first step towards the Asian market was made by recommendation from Lattice (Lattice Technology Co., Ltd.), one of TID’s important and long-standing technology partners, and Toyota Material Handling (TMHG). These contacts had given TID and CATALOGcreator® the confidence to strengthen the search for further Japanese partners. CATALOGcreator® is a software solution for electronic spare-parts catalogs and service-information systems that can integrate 3D models using Lattice’s XVL technology. After a brief time, DPS (service provider of TMHG) was selling CATALOGcreator® instead of acting as a mere customer-service provider. Since then, business contact with Lattice has become crucial and even closer. Hence, it was only natural to schedule a meeting with this long-standing partner while traveling in Japan on this year’s business trip.
On-Site: Two Cultures – One Goal
The first appointment for Rafi Boudjakdjian in Tokyo was at Navix Co., Ltd., a company that promotes CATALOGcreator® and SCHEMA products as a partner of TID.
The rationale behind – and the most key point of – the business trip to Tokyo was signing the partner agreement between TID, represented by Rafi Boudjakdjian, and DPS, represented by CEO Katsuyuki Kawachi. Stefan Luber, who has been supporting the partner project for over a year: “I see the on-site appointment as a unique opportunity to deepen our partnership and to discuss our project topics. Apart from communicating through telephone or e-mail, a visit offers the unique opportunity for direct exchange and for getting to know each other beyond mere project business.”
On-site, participants agreed on the further procedure and the next project objectives. The preview of the new CATALOGcreator® 2020 and the presentation of Lattice’s plugin-free Web 3D Viewer were other topics on the agenda.
The CATALOGcreator® seminar, comparable to a Japanese “cDAY”, was the first of its kind and, with around 120 participants, one of the highlights of the trip. The customer and prospective-customer event organized by Lattice and DPS focused on the most important news around CATALOGcreator®. Interest in the state of digitization in Europe has risen sharply in the Japanese market, and this event made this truly clear.
In his presentation “Digitization in Europe” translated consecutively from English to Japanese, Rafi Boudjakdjian talked about the development and digitization of 3D data exemplified by the electronic spare-parts catalog and delighted the Japanese audience not only with his specialist knowledge but also with some sentences in Japanese. Keishi Nagino of Lattice had kindly agreed to provide the translation. Hiroshi Toriya from Lattice gave an extremely interesting presentation on the use of 3D in the industry, with a slide dedicated to CATALOGcreator® as an application that already uses this technology. Presentations of the successful CATALOGcreator® project at Niigata and on the use of the software (Etsuji Yamada, DPS) complemented the harmonious program.
Hospitality is Key in Japan
TID was impressed by the warm hospitality of their Japanese partners. “A Japanese representative, who sees to all organizational matters, was almost available around the clock,” says Rafi Boudjakdjian. From a business perspective, the omni-presence of the employees and the reliable cooperation deserves special mention. TID also spared no effort and prepared itself through an introductory language course before they set out on their journey. Apart from the language, it was crucial to prepare for cultural aspects in a Japanese business environment.
“The interest in reaching common ground despite language and cultural differences is clearly noticeable on both sides. The enthusiasm about small-talk attempts at the get together in the evening and the Japanese TID business cards specifically designed for local customers and partners was really great.” Last, but not least, visiting a traditional Tempura restaurant together complemented TID’s first steps towards the rich Japanese history. “Even outside working hours, our Japanese hosts were extremely attentive to our wishes. We felt highly valued and were thrilled by such outstanding hospitality”, the managing director of TID is pleased to add.
Vision: Win Further Market Share in Japan
The next big goals of the German-Japanese cooperation is the collaboration on DPS’s business plan to focus on CATALOGcreator® and to extend marketing of the software for electronic spare-parts catalogs and service-information systems to more countries.
Stefan Luber has mastered this challenge through intensive joint work with our Japanese partners despite language and cultural barriers. The exclusive and permanent support by project manager Luber is something extraordinary, since our Japanese partners can always rely on a designated contact for technical questions who knows all project specifics and details. Thanks to his great dedication, TID can most effectively service its Japanese customers, despite the time lag and cultural and linguistic differences.
“I especially appreciate our Japanese partner’s high motivation to understand, use, and distribute our product CATALOGcreator®. Precisely because it is not common in Japan to place “foreign” products on the local market, our cooperation is really something special – and, from my personal point of view, I also find it outstanding,” explains Stefan Luber. That his view is also shared by DPS, can be clearly seen by the Japanese enthusiasm for CATALOGcreator® and TID shown on the Japanese Customer Day. TID’s mission to enter on the Japanese market and to win important market share is promoted primarily by the extraordinary commitment of all participants.
“We are looking forward to what has already been achieved and, of course, to further expanding the cooperation with our Japanese partners and friends. The Japanese region offers enormous potential for shared success. The trip to Japan has been worthwhile in every respect and it is the prelude to many other joint projects and meetings,” concludes Rafi Boudjakdjian.