During Phase IV (2011–2015) of our Excellent Global Corporation Plan, the world economy faced stiffer headwinds than had been anticipated. For a global company with operations worldwide, this weak economy impacted all areas of our business. In response, we focused our energies on further strengthening our robust financial structure, aiming to emerge from this severe global recession stronger and better positioned for long-term success, while laying the foundation for two important strategic moves in our business transformation.
One of these strategies is securing new avenues of growth. We have undertaken the lateral expansion of current businesses while pursuing M&A in areas such as commercial printing, network cameras and next-generation semiconductor lithography systems. The second strategy is strengthening our manufacturing capabilities through automation and robotization.
2016 marks the inaugural year of Phase V. Over the next five years we will expand the ambitious reforms we have promoted to date. I want the Canon of 2020 to look completely different from how it does now, completing a transformation into an all-new Canon capable of achieving new growth.
Across our business operations we are strengthening and expanding the growth engines we acquired through diversification and M&A. In manufacturing, we are refocusing on Japan-based production, implementing advanced automation while maximizing our in-house production capabilities. At the same time, IoT, big data, artificial intelligence and other next-generation technologies are enabling us to develop a new production system. In R&D, we are embracing open innovation to integrate leading-edge technologies from different fields. And as we work to complete our Three Regional Headquarters management system, we are restructuring our worldwide sales network to capture the dynamism of global economic growth. Along the way, Canon remains committed to cultivating global human resources that enable us to work successfully across international borders.
Achieving our Phase V reforms amid this unstable global economic environment will be challenging. But with Canon’s DNA of entrepreneurial spirit and the San-ji, or “Three Selfs,” Spirit, which has been passed down since our foundation, the Canon Group will work as one to achieve this great strategic turning point, embarking on a period of reform that will pave the way to new business growth.