As the CEO of both Harbour IT and Converga, Luke Clark knew the two companies offered entirely different services. But today he also understands at their very heart, they were pretty much the same. Now, united under the umbrella of Canon Business Services, he’s using their similar strengths to offer a one-stop shop in multiple areas of expertise.

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“While both provide very different outcomes, both are laser focused on customer support, both see how critical it is to know our customers’ businesses and both know what’s important to their success.

“Canon Business Services is combining all these multiple solutions and areas of expertise to give our customers simpler and more cohesive results. With an organisation providing all services, it’s a more seamless experience.”

Canon Business Services, which consists of two companies, brings together Converga’s world-class business process outsourcing with the leading-edge business technology solutions from Harbour IT. As the company’s CEO, Luke is confident the broader set of skills across end-to-end solutions will help Canon Business Services maintain an edge over its competitors.

Luke spent months preparing for the transition, focusing primarily on implementing a single leadership structure across both companies to lead a workforce of 2,000 across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

“We wanted to ensure we kept leadership styles connected and that our people were comfortable with the transition. We needed to retain Harbour IT’s innovative culture and agile approach to new capabilities, while maintaining Converga’s structured delivery, process excellence and desire to do the right thing.”

Committed to expanding beyond digital cameras and office equipment, Canon is spending US$3.2 billion (A$4.6 billion) on acquisitions in business sectors, according to Robotics Business Review. Harbour IT, acquired in 2014, has been a leader in managed IT services and cloud infrastructure throughout Australia for nearly two decades.

Meanwhile, Converga – New Zealand Post’s managed services and business process outsourcing company, boasting an enviable 25-year global reputation – was acquired a year later.

Luke’s mid-range plan for Canon Business Services, based in Sydney’s Macquarie Park business hub, is to grow by 30% in Australia and New Zealand, and 50% in the Philippines, by 2022.

Launched in Tokyo in 1937 to research quality cameras, and established in Australia in 1978, Canon’s strong history of innovation is also an important advantage. Canon Business Services, on the lookout for fresh talent, runs an internship program with the University of New South Wales to attract fresh thinking which, in turn, provides more innovative, efficient and effective business services for customers.

“Innovation is ingrained in how we operate and it continues to be a core part of our business,” he says. “We are focused on bringing innovation (through expertise and investment) to our business processes via robotics process automation (RPA) and to cloud technologies via Microsoft Azure Stack.

“Innovation is ingrained in how we operate and continues to be a core part of our business.”

“For example, by combining our chatbot solution and RPA we can also automate self-service in our IT delivery.

In plain language, customers can describe the problem they are experiencing, the chatbot suggests a solution and, if necessary, automatically passes the problem on to the robot to perform the fix. These recent product launches will also help us to attract the right talent and create new roles.”

Luke is confident the strong reputation and brand equity enjoyed by both Harbour IT and Converga, along with the existing consumer trust in Canon, will provide Canon Business Services with the credibility and expertise it needs.

“Our immediate priority is to deliver greater efficiency and building model outcomes to our existing customers. We’re already having great conversations with companies across Australia and New Zealand, to discover a range of solutions to increase productivity.

“We’re now working with one of our financial services customers, whose IT platforms are managed through Harbour IT, to automate their finance processes through our RPA as a service solution. We have another major customer, for whom we manage a number of critical business processes from the Philippines, who want us to manage the network and technology within their environment to ensure they have a complete end-to-end service.

“Both these customers know that Canon Business Services is accountable. We know their business intimately, so they trust us to be able to provide services that are of value to them.”

Having enjoyed a long history with Canon himself, it’s a strong priority for Luke to keep employee engagement at a high level. He joined in 2006 as a manager in IT, moving up the ranks to CIO before heading up Converga and Harbour IT. For him, Canon is a company where you can ask for more, as long as you put your hand up.

“New talent can really choose their own adventure,” he says. “There aren’t many CIOs who have the opportunity to look at things like acquisition strategies, but I was given the opportunity to go beyond my scope, which led to the chance for me to take on the CEO role,” he says.

“I have always enjoyed complex change programs that involved cross-business collaboration to be successful. I never shied away from a challenge, and always raised my hand to drive the change. This gave me great exposure to the business operation and great experience in engaging teams.”

Luke regards his rise to CEO from CIO as a natural progression, something he didn’t necessarily aspire to, but gravitated towards with his acumen for solving business problems recognised by the C-suites across Converga and Harbour IT.

He admits it was a huge transition, going from a single function to being forced to allocate the time to focus across a much broader range of business.

“I enjoyed the tough challenges with rewarding outcomes along the way to becoming CEO,” he says. “Time is still the biggest challenge I face; striking the balance between getting the work done quickly and getting it done at the right level.”

While Luke says today’s business leaders don’t need to understand the ins and outs of every detail when it comes to technology, he says they need to understand how technology impacts their business strategies, or at least have people ‘near’ them who do.

“You should know what the right questions are to ask so you can test the direction,” he says. “You need to keep abreast of trends that include technology and have the right people to support you and execute the plans. Organisations like ours can help navigate the complexity and stay ahead of the curve to advise our customers.”

Luke says he learned quickly in his career that focusing solely on work delivery wasn’t going to take him far. He believes that having an engaged team will overcome challenges, and that requires transparent leadership. He promotes a great culture through being approachable, creating effective teams and having clear and direct expectations.

“At my core these are what I stick to, but of course it evolves between situations and audiences. Trust is the most important thing to me. Do what you say you are going to do and communicate openly on challenges.

Still pondering the early days of his career, he remembers well one sage counsel he received.
And that is to “Leave things better than you found them.” “My vision is for Canon Business Services to make the most of the integration and the commonalities between Converga and Harbour IT. Leverage today and own the future.”