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- Message from the President
Change Inspires Growth
2020 was the year when COVID-19 spread around the world and we were forced to accept sweeping changes in our daily living, workstyles, and every other aspect of our lives. We asked President Jinya Katsube how Zuken viewed the situation and what the company intended to do going forward.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Zuken’s business activities?
We were able to respond quickly to the changes in business processes by, for example, adopting a wide range of telecommuting systems as early as possible. In fall 2020, we started operating our own ZUKEN digital environment to enable our sales staff to facilitate two-way communication channels with customers to satisfy their individual needs. All our staff adapted to the situation by devising their own ideas and changing the way they worked.
The impact on our business was smaller than expected. In fact, our results were pretty good given the circumstances. I think we can put that down to our rapid adaption to new business processes and the strength of the products we handle. Our business enjoys the support of a solid customer base. When the world financial crisis hit in 2008, the future looked uncertain and customers didn’t know what people would buy and, consequently, what they should make, so they retreated and felt they had to step on the brakes. The current situation is different, however. I think we are seeing a continued positive investment appetite for technological innovation, development process reform, and other advancements. It is important for Zuken to lay out a proper roadmap for achieving these advances.
Personally speaking, I believe that the various impacts of COVID-19 will continue for some time. Even after the pandemic has been brought under control, I don’t think we will ever return to the way things were pre-Covid. Over the past year, we have been devising ways to operate with-Covid and building new business processes and environments. Right now, I see this as an opportunity to utilize the experience we have gained and the new platforms we have formed to further enhance Zuken’s strengths.
Can you tell us your outlook and initiatives for the current fiscal year?
It is not as if the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped consumers from buying things. Zuken customers want to develop the new products that people currently desire and build the design environments to create those products, so we would like to help our customers by providing appropriate solutions and support for each individual market.
We are focusing particularly strongly on three product areas in the current business year. The first relates to the model-based development (MBSE, MBD) that we have been preparing over the past two years. Over the past year, we have made the necessary investments and developments to enable further expansion in the future. The project is progressing favorably and we expect to start seeing some steady results in the current fiscal year. The concept planning phase for automobiles and other products will clearly become increasingly important going forward. Zuken needs to focus on how to apply our expertise to contribute to IT development. Our role will be to instill deeper understanding and firmly establish a new model-based design environment, given that many users are still only in the trial and error stage.
The second area is Zuken’s mainstay CR product range. Within the larger scope of development environment reform, you can’t sell products simply by comparing CAD-to-CAD functionality. Instead, you have to research customer needs and propose relevant value. The performance of our CR-8000 is highly evaluated in terms of easy compatibility with analysis environments, PLM and 3D mechanical CAD, affinity with cloud environments, and comfortable remote working, etc. I think we will see more buoyant demand for CR-8000 migration going forward. This year, we are focusing on helping customers reconfirm the potential of CR-8000 in terms of the added value offered by its MBSE compatibility and easy-to-use, AI-enabled systems.
The third focus area is our E3.infinte product that we are introducing into the automotive market this fiscal year. This product proved a big challenge for Zuken in terms of the required collaboration between the Japanese and German development teams, but, ultimately, we were able to create a very good solution. Instead of simply improving the functionality of previous products, E3.infinite offers the functionality required to respond to new engineering processes in the most technologically advanced automotive manufacturing field. E3.infinite will not only help improve the efficiency of wire harness design and manufacture, but can also help create E/E design suitable for once-in-a-century new mobility developments.
Please tell us about Zuken’s future management direction.
“I want to see Zuken contribute to manufacturing through our technology and experience in order to help realize a better society.”
We have been following this direction for some time, but our first aim is to become a truly global company. You might be wondering why I am saying this now, but there are still some people in the company who think that the Japan company is the parent company and overseas companies are branch offices. You can’t call that a truly global company. I want to cooperate with our bases in the United States, Europe, and Asia not just on development but on management policies as well, and I want all our staff to learn to operate with global markets in mind.
Going forward, companies will be evaluated more deeply on non-financial aspects, such as future environment, society, and governance (ESG) policy. While we need to maintain the sound corporate culture that we have always fiercely protected as the foundation of our management direction, I want to make various improvements by incorporating the opinions of our external stakeholders more earnestly. It is important to make progress in one area that needs improving and that is to increase the proportion of women who can play an active role in key management positions.
Our manufacturing industry customers face various challenges as we seek to realize a decarbonized society. To be entirely honest, Zuken had not considered this as a high-priority theme because our type of business itself has very little impact on the environment. However, while this might go without saying, the issues that the valued Zuken customers and society as a whole are facing, should be issues for Zuken as well. Zuken wants to contribute to manufacturing in order to help realize a better society through our technology and experience. The range of solutions that the Zuken Group offers has expanded significantly over the past few years. I believe we can also propose solutions to help achieve a decarbonized society from a design and manufacturing engineering perspective.
Please expect great things from Zuken as we continue to grow as the partner on which manufacturing companies can rely.
President and COO