Fujitsu showcases the fruits of co-creating with customers
Tatsuya Tanaka, president of Fujitsu
Photography: Benjamin Beech
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Fujitsu showcases the fruits of co-creating with customers

Kenny MacIver — June 2018
Global ICT company uses its annual conference in Tokyo to highlight how collaboration is key to successful digital transformation.

In an age shaped by digital transformation, the success of organizations will increasingly depend on their ability to form collaborative networks of technology suppliers, complementary business partners, academic institutions, government agencies, start-ups and more. And supporting that approach has become the central strategy of Fujitsu, according to the global ICT company’s president, Tatsuya Tanaka.

“The time when one company can aim for success on its own has ended,” he said at the company’s annual conference in Tokyo last month. “We are now in an era of digital innovation, where AI and IoT will change the way we live and do business. And co-creation will only accelerate further.”

That is exemplified by the numerous digital transformation projects underway at Fujitsu customers, but it is also a major factor in the technologies that are shaping its future. At Fujitsu Forum Tokyo 2018, Tanaka announced the availability of the company’s Digital Annealer, a breakthrough IT architecture inspired by quantum computing that can tackle the kinds of combinatorial optimization problems that are beyond the capabilities of even the largest classical computers.

In keeping with its co-creation model, the Digital Annealer technology was built as part of a collaboration between Fujitsu Laboratories, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Quantum Information and Quantum Computing and quantum computing software specialist 1QBit, which in turn draws on real-world challenges being explored by companies such as DowDuPont, RBS and Allianz.

Digital Annealer, which became available as a cloud service in May in Japan and will come online for North American, European and Asian customers over the next nine months, is regarded as a stepping-stone to true quantum computing. “Quantum is seen as the next-generation of computing,” said Tanaka. “But there are some very high hurdles for its practical use,” he said — not least of all, the challenge of building and connecting the fundamental processing units of quantum computing (qubits) and the need to keep quantum systems at a temperature of absolute zero. “That said, we cannot just wait for this technology to become practical in order to utilize the power of quantum today. And with Digital Annealer we have created a technology to enable us to do so by reproducing quantum behaviour on a digital circuit.”

Designed with the University of Toronto, its application-specific integrated circuit, the Digital Annealing Unit (DAU), has enabled Fujitsu to build what the company’s CTO, Shigeru Sasaki, calls “the only quantum-inspired digital annealer in the world.” Capable of operating in conventional computing environments, Digital Annealer promises to dramatically accelerate the solution to optimization problems in areas such as drug discovery, portfolio investment, transportation routing, disaster recovery planning and complex logistics.
Yoshiteru Yamada, head of Global Marketing Group, Fujitsu

Fujitsu and its technology partners were not the only ones showcasing that spirit of co-creation at the conference and exhibition, attended by an estimated 18,000 customers, technology partners, journalists and others. As Yoshiteru Yamada, head of Fujitsu’s Global Marketing Group, outlined in a series of snapshot case studies, Fujitsu is working with customers of all sizes to create mutual value:

South Korean financial services company Lotte Card has joined forces with Fujitsu to implement a contactless transaction system that allows Lotte Card customers to pay for goods and services simply by passing their hand over a Fujitsu PalmSecure palm vein authentication reader. Lotte Card chose the solution over other biometric options (iris, fingerprint and facial recognition) because it proved a faster, more accurate, convenient and hygienic solution. The manager of Lotte Card’s Digital Payment Team, An Byung-il, also pointed to another deciding factor: Fujitsu’s deep understanding of the subtle complexities of the South Korean financial regulatory environment. After an initial implementation in 30 stores proved highly successful, Lotte Group’s retail network (Korean’s largest) will offer the HandPay Service option. While mobile payment is today the most popular checkout method in Korea, An Byung-il said the move anticipates the evolution by consumers beyond cashless, cardless and device-based payment to hands-free settlement.

An Byung-il, director of the Digital Payment Team at Lotte Card Co

Japanese dental products maker, Sunstar, best known for its GUM brand, came together with Fujitsu and Hiyoshi Dental Clinics last year to launch a series of cloud services for dental clinics and their patients. Customers who use Sunstar’s sensor-packed IoT toothbrush, GUM PLAY, can upload information on their brushing technique and oral hygiene from the toothbrush base via their smartphone, and share that information with their dentist. A scoring system is designed to promote better oral hygiene, preventing gum disease and other dental problems — it also introduces a gamification aspect to a mundane task, says Fumihiro Awashima, general manager for marketing at Sunstar in Asia and Japan. As well as the consumer’s data, the Fujitsu cloud service for dental clinics includes the ability to store X-rays, intra-oral photographs, periodontal disease examinations, informational material and more.

Fumihiro Awashima, general manager for marketing (Asia/Japan), Sunstar

In the highly competitive Japanese electricity market, Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO) is striving to be customers’ provider of choice by creating a series of value-added services. To do so, it is using Fujitsu’s AI technology to analyze smart meter data (stored in the cloud) to identify the lifestyle patters of customers and match services to their needs. For example, its Lifestyle Rhythm Notification Service can minor the electricity usage of an elderly person living alone and notify their families or carers if usage patterns deviate from a normal day, for example, identifying when heating has failed or a TV has been left on all night. The AI algorithms can also be applied by KEPCO to fine tune supply and demand.

Reinforcing the notion that AI is becoming the foundation of more and more applications , Fujitsu has also worked with wind-turbine maker Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to develop a system to efficiently and effectively check for potential flaws in the 5,000 blades — each 75 meters in length — that Siemens Gamesa produces each year. Any flaw when a blade is in operation could prove catastrophic. So, traditionally, each goes through a painstaking manual process using ultrasonic testing to find any flaws – a process taking up to six hours that taxed the concentration abilities of highly skilled quality controllers. Using machine-learning techniques, Fujitsu developed a system that automatically detects abnormalities in high-resolution images through machine-learning and deep-learning capabilities. The paybacks have been game-changing: the system achieves 100% coverage of all defects and has reduced scanning inspection time per blade by 80%.
Digital muscles

“There are common factors as to why these projects are succeeding,” said Yamada. A recent global survey of 1,500 CXOs by Fujitsu identified six characteristics that determine the outcomes of digital transformation projects:
• the strength of leadership of an organization’s executive management
• the quality and skills of its people
• its agility when addressing fast-evolving challenges
• the integration of digital technologies with its existing business systems
• the ecosystem of partnerships it can nurture
• and the value that it can derive from the data it amasses.

Such capabilities might be seen as a company’s ‘digital muscles,’ says Yamada. And just like an athlete preparing for a big race, organizations need to build strength in each of these areas as they prepare to deepen their engagement in digital transformation.

Even excluding pure dot-com businesses, most companies have embarked on that journey: the survey shows that over two-thirds (67%) are planning, testing and/or implementing digital transformation. And 24% of those say that digital transformation has already delivered tangible business outcomes.

That will only grow, says Yamada. “The co-creation underway at customers shows that digital innovation is now a given.”

Other speakers from Fujitsu Forum Tokyo 2018
–    Open innovation pioneer, professor Henry Chesbrough on co-creation models
–    Andrew Fursman, CEO of 1QBit on the dawn of quantum machines
–    Fujitsu’s chief evangelist, Iwao Nakayama on leadership in the age of AI 

Lotte Card Co,Kansai Electric Power Co and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy are among almost 60 customer stories detailed in the Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision. View more here.


First published June 2018
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