Fujitsu Forum and Keynotes

Fujitsu holds an annual “Fujitsu Forum” event in Munich and this is the second year that we have attended. It’s a three day event (one day for press only) and we attended just for one day. As well as the business sessions, the event celebrates the Bavarian heritage with a huge “Oktoberfest” party.

Most of the event covers IT and systems, with lots of emphasis on servers and cloud-computing as Fujitsu is slowly moving towards being a software company, but there was still plenty of hardware to look at in the exhibition area.

The keynote session was shared by Tango Matsumoto of Fujitsu, who is the Head of Global Marketing and Brian David Johnson of Intel, a key supplier of Fujitsu. Duncan Tait – EVP of EMEA introduced the speakers after a very dramatic dance-based opening.

Matsumoto is an EVP of Fujitsu Ltd and his topic was “Human Centric Innovation”.

Without innovation, we cannot overcome the challenges of life, Matsumoto said. We need to ask, “What can make life easier and happier? What is the key to innovation in a rapidly changing future?”.

Matsumoto asked how things would look by 2020. Interconnectivity is increasing and there is more sharing and 346 are collaborating across borders. This is a hyperconnected world which is driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). By 2020, 50 billion things will be connected to the internet. Glasses and cars will be on the internet and even your dog will be connected. Massive amounts of data will be generated. Matsumoto said that 3.6TB of data per hour is generated by a self driving car – while an aircraft jet engine creates 20TB of data per hour. This big data will pose difficult questions of security and safety for those that are processing the data.

Devices are increasingly controlled by intelligent software. Software is “eating the world”, in Matsumoto’s view. The existing dividing lines between hardware and software are fading. The technology changes have meant that business has changed. The cost of a start-up company has dropped from $5m in 2000 to $5k in 2011 according to some VCs, largely because of cloud technology and open source software which allows access to shared resources. Crowd funding has allowed access to capital, so a few good ideas can get you started. New technology like 3D printers allows manufacture and quick start-ups in manufacturing.

These changes mean a hyperconnected, borderless world, with fewer boundaries between individuals and organisations. Existing business models may not be sustainable in the future as it becomes easier for new entrants.

“What is the key to a robust business and a prosperous society?”, Matsumoto asked The key, he thinks, is how 346 use technology. In the past, having closed assets and knowledge was an advantage. It is critical for organisations to exploit the ideas of people for innovation.

Three dimensions are important, he continued.

1. How organisations connect and exploit people, or to re-phrase it – human empowerment is important.

2. How organisations collect big data and how they turn the data into knowledge will be a big factor.

3. Infrastructure has an impact – sensors are increasingly embedded in business and social infrastructure. How they are connected can make a big difference.

A critical step is how to transfer data between humans, between machines and between humans and machines.

An example that Matsumoto showed was Metawater, which is a water infrastructure company in Japan and has invested in AR technology. The system uses tablet-based Augemented Reality to overlay service information, item identities and service instructions on a view of a water plant and allows rapid inspection of water systems. The system supports the recording of images and also the engineer’s comments, exploiting the knowledge of the experienced engineers.

In education, Fujitsu has worked with St Joseph’s Academy in the US which uses 1000 pen and touch tablets, with one given to each student. Students run the help-desk and run the management of tablets including maintenance.

Finally, Matsumoto appealed for partners to come forward to work in collaboration with Fujitsu to build digital ecosystems. In the hyperconnected world, value will be “co-created” by crossing the boundaries of existing industries.

A typical ecosystem is a smartphone. The client devices, apps and broadcast services are provided by different companies and Fujitsu believes that the cloud becomes the “Intelligent Business Platform” for these ecosystems.

In transport and urban mobility, Fujitsu has developed SPATIOWL, a cloud-based system that collects information on taxi and commercial vehicle movements and that allows the visualisation of traffic status. The traffic status can then be used to move traffic more easily – Matsumoto called this “Dynamic mobility management”. He described Singapore as developing towards becoming the world’s first “smart nation”, based on its use of citizen-centric science.

Cloud-based platforms are important for healthcare and for the discovery and design of new drugs. Fujitsu is working with the Research Center for Advanced Science & Technology of the University of Tokyo and Kowa, a Japanese pharmaceuticals company.

Fujitsu has developed an agricultural cloud, Akisai, that is used by more than 200 businesses and the company is working on growing high quality vegetables using sensors and analytics. “Fujitsu lettuce is amazingly tasty”, said Matsumoto, waving a bag, apparently containing one.

Asahi Shuzo is a maker of high quality sake that is exported to more than 20 countries and costs like “high end Burgundy”. The challenge is getting the supply chain of high quality rice of a particular variety (Yamada Nishiki). Fujitsu is helping with this.

For the people side of the equation, Fujitsu supplies integration and mobility. Mobility is a key point to empower 346, Matsumoto said and at the event the Stylistic Q555 tablet was being announced – it has a 10″ display (pen and finger input) and is a convertible product. (For a little more detail see our exhibition report.)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Fujitsu’s Primergy servers and Matsumoto said that 20 years ago, Fujitsu competed with DEC, IBM and others that no longer exist or “are no longer competing” in the server market. “We are still here” and every 27.5 seconds, a server is sold worldwide, thanks to channels, customers and partners, he claimed.

Matsumoto then turned to storage and server developments.

In summary, the hyperconnected world is coming and the key to success is 346 and how they use ICT to innovate. Fujitsu sees its role as being a partner for business transformation.