Digital technology can unlock the mysteries of space!
Supporting Super-Kamiokande research project
There was excellent news for Japan in October 2015: Dr. Takaaki Kajita, director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research at the University of Tokyo, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. The dedication and insight that led to this tremendous achievement was due in no small part to the power of digital technology.
Dr. Kajita was recognized for his pioneering research that established for the first time that neutrinos have mass. The research was carried out at the massive Super-Kamiokande facility at Hida in Japan's Gifu Prefecture. This facility boasts over 50,000 tons of pure water storage capacity underground at a depth of approximately 1,000 meters, as well as nearly 11,000 photosensors for studying proton decay and observing neutrinos arriving from deep space.
Fujitsu provided the cutting-edge high-performance computing environment for the Super-Kamiokande facility, which plays an important role in facilitating research that involves the collection and analysis of some 500 GB of data every day for the past 20 years.
The infrastructure to support human insight, data analysis and the research was a key element in the innovation that led to Dr. Kajita's monumental discovery. This example illustrates how the wave of digital technology is steadily permeating everyday life, the world of business, and wider society.
From Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics
The fourth wave of digital technology is here
We are currently in the midst of a major period of transformation, the likes of which has never been seen before. Digital technology is permeating every aspect of our lives, including the home, business, industry and wider society, creating new and innovative forms of value and transforming the way we do almost everything.
The first wave of digital technology was the Internet, which gave individuals access to a variety of new and exciting solutions--for example online shopping--which soon emerged as a threat to the traditional bricks-and-mortar retail model.
The second wave of digital technology was the mobile Internet, exemplified by the explosive worldwide growth in powerful smartphones and tablet devices from 2007 onwards. Our lives were transformed by the advent of ubiquitous access to the Internet.
The third wave of digital technology has already begun. This is the Internet of Things. There will be a massive increase in the number of Internet-enabled devices, expected to exceed 50 billion by the year 2020. Tiny embedded sensors and computers in equipment, machinery and devices will link to the cloud to generate new value for industry and society.
Finally, the emerging fourth wave of digital technology involves artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. This refers to machines that can combine text and image data from the Internet with data from a myriad of sensors to assist with decision-making and knowledge creation processes via machine learning. Commercialization of AI and robot systems is underway. For example, we already have applications that combine drones to inspect public infrastructure with AI to make intelligent predictions about failure scenarios. In this way, intelligent technology can assist us in addressing real-world issues. This is the new age of computing that is about to begin.
75% of businesses have embraced digital technology
Now is the time for digital transformation
Modern digital technologies, such as cloud-based services, mobile apps, the Internet of Things, Big Data and AI, are embedded into products, services and business models and enhance competitiveness, create closer relationships with customers and generate efficiencies on an unprecedented scale. These are the benefits of digital transformation, and already underway both overseas and in Japan.
Some 75% of businesses in Japan are preparing for digitalization, including around 20% which are pursuing digital business at an organizational level. Enterprises are working to identify new avenues for growth and expansion. For instance, two-thirds of enterprises (64%) are actively exploring new ways of engaging with customers such as via smart devices, wearables and Connected cars. Industry is rushing to embrace digital data as a point of differentiation that can be used to grow.
Digital technology can be both an opportunity and a threat. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two, and to correctly interpret the signs of transformation in order to identify the best course of action.
Creativity is the key to successful digital transformation
There are three key elements to innovation in the digital age. The first and most important is people. Innovation in the digital age is achieved by people using technology. We need to provide the means and the facility for individuals to demonstrate their creativity.
TechShop is considered the flag-bearer of the maker movement, a new approach to creating products that originated in the United States. TechShop has set up spacious workshops throughout the country that are fully equipped with 3-D printers and a range of other equipment. The workshops are available for anyone to use via a simple membership system, providing a nurturing and unfettered environment for people to employ their creative energies. The workshop environment has created local communities where people exchange ideas and work together on projects. Founded in 2006, TechShop has spawned a number of revolutionary innovations, such as the Square mobile payment system that is used in Japan.
TechShop has now reached Japan, thanks to a collaboration between Fujitsu and TechShop Inc. of the United States. In April 2016, the TechShop Tokyo will be officially launched in the Ark Mori Building in central Tokyo.
Digital technology brings people together
Creating new business models
The second key element of digital transformation is information.
In the modern age, data is created by people but it is also generated by a bewildering array of equipment and devices. There is a wealth of data available, but not all of it is immediately useful. It is important to filter out unnecessary noise and identify meaningful data that can be used for analysis to generate useful knowledge.
The final element of digital transformation is a connected infrastructure. As the Internet of Things takes hold, industry and public infrastructure will become all-encompassing and traditional borders will become blurred. We will all be connected via infrastructure, and the insights and knowledge gained from information will assist our decisions and actions and lead to new models of value creation. This is the human-centric innovation in the digital era.
A host of different devices and services across multiple industries are connected via digital technology, forming the digital ecosystems that enable the co-creation of new value. Examples of digital ecosystems include FinTech, a combination of financial services and ICT; intelligent manufacturing, based on collaboration between humans and robots; new forms of health care delivery and nursing care services involving wearable devices; and the enhanced integration of farming, food production and distribution. Digital ecosystems have the power to integrate government, private industry and academic and research institutions more closely than ever before.