CEO Kaz Hirai on Sony turnaround: ‘My job has been to revive pride in what we do’

The firm’s chief executive says his hands-on approach has paid off so far, but he’s not ready for a victory lap just yet

The secret to rekindling Sony’s return to form, according to the company’s chief executive, is personalisation – achieved not by the mass collection of customer data in the way some big tech firms do, but by eliciting an emotional response to its products.

“Getting in close is the only way,” says Kaz Hirai, who took the helm of Sony five-and-half-years ago charged with turning the company around; he has succeeded, with Sony projecting its largest-ever annual operating profit of £4.2bn this year. Hirai is a passionate believer in the Japanese concept of Kando, which is about establishing an emotional connection across what Sony calls “the last one inch” to the consumer – the wow factor that creates enthusiasm and loyalty.

“My father and grandfather were Sonyfanatics,” he says. “When I was about five years old, my father recorded my voice on his open reel tape deck and played it back. Hearing my own voice was a technological wonder.“We had a huge TV, but we also had a five-inch TV, and I found it wonderful that Sony could miniaturise these products.”But by the time Hirai took over as chief executive that wow factor had faded.

 

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