Co-creating digital success with next-generation technology
Photography: Enno Kapitza
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Co-creating digital success with next-generation technology

Kenny MacIver — October 2018

Companies across every sector are positioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunities presented by fast-advancing digital technologies. Rupert Lehner, Fujitsu’s Head of Central Europe, Products and Enterprise Platform Services EMEIA, shares his insight into the innovations that will have the greatest impact.

• Don’t miss Rupert Lehner in the keynote sessions at Fujitsu’s ActivateNow digital event, 14-15 October 2020 — Register here

IT leaders everywhere are making bets on technologies that can transform their businesses and even whole industries. How can they ensure success given the scale and pace of change?
First of all we need to understand that we are engaged in a technology revolution that is fundamentally altering the way we all live and work. The scale, the scope and the complexity of the transformation that is under way – and which will only intensify – is unlike anything humankind has experienced before.

A lot of aspects of how that will develop are far from clear today, so it’s important that this transformation involves the broadest set of stakeholders — businesses, the public sector, citizens, academia and more. When, in the future, you have billions of people connected, unlimited processing power and the potential for unlimited knowledge, the world won’t just be different but responsibilities will be different too.

AI, robotics, IoT, 3D printing, quantum computing and the other major advances coming together will multiply this whole transformation. And, while the technology is important, more important still is the involvement of people. We need to take everyone with us on this journey.

So rapid technological change presents a lot of challenges for society as a whole, but it also offers great possibilities when we do it in the right way.

Given the breadth of technologies coming to market, how are most companies responding to the many opportunities?
On the one hand, customers understand that digital transformation is a reality today and they need to act proactively. On the other hand, some customers are uncertain about the right strategy to pursue and what they need to do to make it successful.

That’s why it’s important to have technology partners like Fujitsu who can help to guide the way: to get into deep discussions and use approaches like co-creation to identify and deliver the right solutions. In all the discussions around digital transformation that we are having with customers, it is clear that they need to act to maintain their competitiveness and their market position.

At Fujitsu’s European Digital Transformation Centers, in Munich and London, customers can work with our teams to develop a clearer understanding of where advanced technologies can really improve their business, their competitiveness, their business strategy and their customer engagement.

“We need to ensure that AI is applied in a distinctly human-centric way, so the benefits flow to business and society.”

Can you give a sense of the technology waves that are having the most impact on business today and those that will cause most disruption over the next five years?
It isn’t just one technology; it’s the combination of different technologies arriving at the same time. But artificial intelligence, in particular, is the next big step. It will allow us to make much more effective use of other technologies we have today. For example, in cities we can apply AI to existing big data sets to optimize traffic flow and eliminate jams.

We need to ensure AI is applied in a distinctly human-centric way, so the benefits flow to people and society while the solutions we create improve our lives.


The same goes for how we protect data, especially when IoT is gathering data from billions of sensors and connected devices. We have to use the data in the right way for the benefit of people.

One technology that promises to provide the leap in processing power necessary to fuel many of these future applications is quantum computing. Where are we on the journey to a quantum computing future?
For many of the new technologies and solutions we’re talking about today, quantum computing is really the base.

True quantum computers may not arrive until the next decade, but there is the opportunity to access quantum-like capabilities. The Fujitsu Digital Annealer is already available and can solve problems beyond the capabilities of any conventional system.

One customer, the UK retail and commercial bank NatWest, is now implementing such quantum-inspired computing power in a proof-of-concept project that has enabled its technology team to complete the highly complex calculations associated with financial investment problems at 300 times the speed of a traditional computer.

Industries that are already evaluating the Digital Annealer include utilities, logistics, healthcare, financial services and automotive. For autonomous driving and the routing of vehicles, for example, solutions like the Digital Annealer are absolutely key.

Given that level of technological change, to what extent is it important that companies involved in digital transformation engage with an ecosystem of players?
Collaboration and co-creation will become more and more important. No company will have all the skills and knowledge within its own ranks to succeed in digital transformation alone.


But how do we ensure we have all the talent we need to support these new technologies? I believe it is tremendously important to build strong relationships with universities and schools and to involve students in new technologies and solution finding. After all, they are the disruptors of conventional thinking. That also means increasing diversity and inclusion in the IT industry and beyond.

That said, a lot of the processes and repetitive tasks that are done by people in technology today will be taken over by AI and robotics in the near future. I firmly believe, however, that people will work in combination with intelligent machines and have many new opportunities to focus on more interesting tasks.

First published October 2018
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