Tech in check: Ricoh's senior GM of marketing Nick Tan

Ricoh's senior general manager of marketing and business development, Nick Tan, is no stranger to the marketing industry. With close to two decades of industry experience under his belt, Tan was previously head of marketing at Epson Southeast Asia for nearly two years prior to joining Ricoh, according to his LinkedIn. He also led regional marketing for Dell and worked at Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific.

Tan tells A+M about his first exposure with digital and dishes out tips to marketers who are eager to embrace digital.

Check out some previous editions of Tech in check here:
INTI’s head of digital marketing Nicholas Goh
U Mobile’s head of marketing services Jenny Chin

A+M: What was your first digital role like?

Tan: My first exposure with digital was 20 years ago when I started my first job in the office automation industry. At that point, the whole industry was already transitioning from analogue to digital. For someone who was never exposed to technical IT jargons, I had to self-learn and Computimes under the New Straits Times became my obedient resource to keep abreast of industry news and trends.

A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?

Tan: One of Ricoh’s CRM systems did not yield its full potential due to poor participation or low utilisation. For example, our simple EDM campaign using the CRM database did not reach its intended audience as the contact details were either outdated or incomplete. The process of updating the database was tedious and labourious which led to more efforts, budget and resources consumed in mobilising an EDM campaign.

A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?

Tan: With the costly learnings, we explored a new CRM system aside from engaging external digital marketing opportunities. Ricoh also reviewed its business processes and placed bigger emphasis to reduce manual processes. This was one of our early forays into creating a digitised workplace.

We have now moved from traditional printed materials and billboards, to focus on social media activation and engagement, where we allocate 80% of our advertising and promotions (A&P) budget into.

At Ricoh, we aim to empower technology but at the same time, maintain human touch. We believe there has to be a balance between technology and human interaction. Ricoh is also in the progress of revamping our live office tour with a key focus on "customer's first experience". We intend to showcase Ricoh’s belief of “Empowering Digital Workplaces” by bringing customers on the live office tour to experience Ricoh’s technologies first-hand in an actual workplace.

A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

Tan: From a marketing context, we are always faced with the task of squeezing the biggest bang for our buck in the event of of lower A&P budget allocation, to identify suitable digital platforms to run marketing campaigns on.

With digital disruption happening rapidly, we need to constantly keep ourselves abreast of what’s happening and what’s relevant for us to try out, to generate sales leads, sustain brand awareness and/or visibility.
The fear of failure may sometimes outweigh the fear of trying as we are constantly being measured internally and within.

A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?

Tan: In living up to Ricoh’s tagline of "imagine. change", digital disruption has definitely up the ante in Ricoh’s traditional core business. This is not only in terms of products and services, but also allowing room for improvement in services, operations and tools to undergo and be enhanced by leaps and bounds through digital change.

For instance, Ricoh’s Intelligent Remote Management System eliminates 50% of human intervention on service request, while the RemoteConnect Support tool has significantly reduced machine down time of at least 30% as compared to the traditional way of having to arrange a customer engineer to physically be at the customer’s office.

 A+M: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Tan: Anticipate the next big digital move that’s relevant to your business. Be creative, embrace the change, give it a try and if it fails, do fail fast.
Don’t be too fixated on the latest trends but understand enough of what’s happening.

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