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Why big data will move ICT to the top of the CEO’s agenda

Kenny MacIver and Minoru Okajima – September 2014

Tsuneo Kawatsuma was appointed Executive Advisor of Fujitsu in April 2015.

We are on the cusp of a third industrial revolution, says Fujitsu CTO and CIO Tsuneo Kawatsuma, where CIOs will work in tandem with CEOs to drive business innovation.

IT organizations around the world are about to go through a major transformation — one that will turn them into engines of business innovation.

That’s the far-reaching prediction of Tsuneo Kawatsuma, Fujitsu’s CTO and CIO, who suggests the shift will also fundamentally change the relationship between the CIO and CEO.

As he outlines in our exclusive video, the IT department will move far beyond its historical standing as a backroom development and support function to become truly strategic. As someone who started a 37-year career at Fujitsu as a systems engineer, he has had plenty of experience of the pressure that IT teams are under to deliver quality solutions — and the lack of recognition they often receive.

But a new set of dynamics is about to change that, he says. “The time has come when ever company really needs the systems division’s help in order to succeed. From this point onwards, the systems division is going to be responsible for making business innovation happen.”
Catalyst for change

There is a catalyst behind that shift, he argues: big data. “Big data will have an impact on all industries, on every process — in planning, research, sales, production and elsewhere.” As such, it amounts to nothing less than “a third industrial revolution,” he argues. “It will change our lives, in work and in leisure,” he says, with technology enabling an era of mass customization. “Big data enables you to have a car, a book [or whatever] that is tailor-made for you. Everything will change in this industrial revolution — the whole set of processes, from manufacturing to marketing.”

That will place the IT organization in a pivotal position, he says. Although operational business units are actually generating the vast volumes of company data, they don't know how to maximize its potential — how to access it, contextualize it, analyze it, and so on. “Only the IT division really knows how to do that,” he suggests. “It alone has the ability to handle big data.”

And that will also mean a new role for the CIO, he maintains: “The CEO and CIO will work in tandem to make innovation happen — with the CEO determining the direction for the company and the CIO showing the optimal route it can take, and what IT can do to take it there.”

The upshot is an elevation of the IT organization as a whole. “That’s why we in IT have a bright future,” he concludes.

Read about the Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision

First published
September 2014
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About: Tsuneo Kawatsuma
As CTO and CIO of Fujitsu, Tsuneo Kawatsuma leads both technology and IT strategy at the ¥4.8 trillion ($46bn) Japanese ICT giant. A corporate executive officer, he reports directly to Fujitsu president Masami Yamamoto.

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