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New technology frontiers in both business and society

Kenny MacIver and Minoru Okajima – September 2014

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

The Internet of Things will open up new opportunities across all areas of industry and society, says Fujitsu CTO and CIO Tsuneo Kawatsuma, as everything physical is connected to the Internet.

For IT professions involved in transforming business and public sector organizations through the application of IT, it is often difficult to appreciate that the march of digital technology is not universal. But there are large areas of both business and society where IT has barely made an impact — on efficiency and productivity or on the creation of new, innovative models.

And, according to Tsuneo Kawatsuma, CTO and CIO of global ICT company Fujitsu, that presents a huge opportunity across both business and society. “Although many companies have applied ICT to their businesses, there are still many industries that are relatively untouched by technology,” he outlines in our exclusive video interview.

In healthcare, for example, companies such as Fujitsu have created huge efficiencies by providing solutions for electronic health records that enable the tracking of patient care. However, as Kawatsuma points out, such digital records do not in themselves help patients to get well.

The digital gap is even more apparent in agriculture. While modern Japanese farmers, for example, apply sophisticated techniques to the cultivation of crops and US farmers have advanced machinery to help them farm vast territories, neither make extensive use of innovative ICT technology, he says.

But that is changing. In recent years, agricultural projects in Japan, supported by Fujitsu, have seen ICT technology helping vegetable farmers increase their yields by as much as 30%. Moreover, with the aim of utilizing ICT to ensure more plentiful and reliable food supplies in the future, Fujitsu has been developing the ‘Akisai’ cloud service which connects distributors, local communities and consumers through an enhanced value chain that utilizes ICT at all stages of production, distribution, sales and management.
Connected everything

But the opportunity for extending the use of ICT extends beyond business. “ICT could replace professional expertise in [many] more areas,” says the Fujitsu CIO — it has the potential to address some of the major issues facing society as a whole.

As an example he highlights the concentration of people within urban areas, which is creating major challenges for the management of city transportation. And simply applying human ingenuity to managing traffic flows and road systems is not going to prove effective enough in the future.

The transformational change that’s required in this area — and indeed all areas — will result from the embedding of digital capabilities in an ever-larger number of physical objects, he predicts. “The Internet of Things will open up new frontiers in all industries as everything is connected to the Internet,” says Kawatsuma. “In this way, every process, in every industry can use ICT.”

That will also herald a dramatic shift at an individual level. “ICT will bring a revolution to our lives, with computers embedded in the products we use every day,” he says. Not that we will be particularly aware of the networked processing that is going on behind the scenes.

“Computers will exist in virtual spaces,” says Kawatsuma. So, for example, Fujitsu technology is being embedded in microwave ovens, in shoes, clothes and shirts, while other kinds of non-intrusive, contactless sensor technology will become central to our daily lives, he suggests.

Already Fujitsu has monitoring technology that blends seamlessly with everyday activities. “We have a technology that allows you to check your pulse-rate just by taking your portrait with a smartphone,” says Kawatsuma, which might be especially useful for remotely monitoring elderly people living alone. Another innovation is an on-skin sensor that is able to generate power simply by using a person’s body heat and send the data it is gathering to a relevant network. Similarly, he explains, a pair of ordinary shoes can double as a set of scales for monitoring someone’s weight or as a pedometer to check their mobility.

We’re at a turning point, he concludes, where the application of ICT will become truly universal, where “all products will include computers and everything physical will be IT-enabled.”

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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