Present and Future of Work Style Innovation: an Interview with Expert Soichi Nishiyama (Part 2)

The emergence of smart devices is dramatically changing strategies for work style innovation. However, work style innovation cannot be achieved merely by the introduction of new technology, says Soichi Nishiyama, Senior Manager of the General Product Strategy Headquarters, Integrated Product Business Promotion Department. Nicknamed Mr. Work Style Innovation, Nishiyama is a leading expert in the area of work style innovation. But what is needed to achieve work style innovation? During this interview, we asked him about the reasons why Fujitsu continues to play a leading role in this area.

Present and Future of Work Style Innovation: an Interview with Expert Soichi Nishiyama (Part 1)

What is the most important thing about work style innovation?

Fujitsu is a company who specialize in information and communications technology, or ICT. So, the most important thing is to provide and operate efficient system services for customers. To that end, last year we released the Fujitsu Mobile Initiative, a group of products and services that are designed to be used on mobile devices. To meet our customers' needs, we provide systematically integrated packages that include devices, mobile platforms, applications and services. We also have confidence in our capability to meet a wide range of demand for customization and operation services.

Moreover, recent projects in the area of work style innovation are making us think not only about ICT, but also about how to facilitate work style changes at customers. So, we need to find ways to work together with customers to review their goals for work style innovation and to help them achieve those goals.
That's why we need to think about the best approach for processes before we deploy ICT solutions. According to the 2012 Gartner report, Strategic Road Map for Mobility, the most crucial issues in corporate mobile strategies are demand, supply and governance, as well as risks and problems.

Figure 1: The Strategy Road Map for Work Style Innovation shows Fujitsu's strategic approach to these four issues. As shown in this diagram, we believe that the quickest way to achieve work style innovation is by systematically reviewing and implementing basic procedures, including the development of a vision, the reviewing of work rules, the formulation of security policies, and the selection of infrastructure systems.

Figure 1: Strategy Road Map for Work Style Innovation

Is it true that work style innovation cannot be achieved without a corporate vision?

Work style innovation is a process where companies improve their daily business operations; it's not a process of introducing new technologies.

Some people may think that deploying new smart devices or state-of-the-art solutions and services will automatically change work styles. Certainly, it's true that using ICT can change work styles. However, work style innovation may get stifled if companies that introduce new technologies don't have a vision for the future. There's a need to develop a clear vision for future work styles and to actively introduce ICT to achieve the vision.

I believe that the most important thing in work style innovation is to provide a company-wide vision and to achieve a consensus to promote that vision.

In order for each employee to play an active part in work style innovation, the company must achieve a consensus regarding company-wide innovation goals, and this consensus has to be reached between the management division, the field service division, the IT divisions, and the admin division. The introduction of new technologies is given meaning by such a consensus. As well as that, consensus is a driving force for the promotion and implementation of innovation programs. However, as I mentioned earlier, this is easier said than done. So, Fujitsu has started a facilitator/consultant service to develop a future vision together with our customers.

In this service, we take a workshop approach that is based on design thinking. We hold workshops--but not in the usual company conference rooms. Holding a workshop in a place that reminds the employees of the everyday business as usual isn't an effective way to brainstorm ideas for innovation. In order to be effective, such a workshop--what we call an "open innovation workshop"--needs to be held in an extraordinary space, full of designs and tools that stimulate the imagination. In that kind of workshop, future-oriented ideas that are out of ordinary are likely to emerge, rather than the logical kind of thinking that is used in everyday business.

People from different backgrounds take part in the workshops, depending on what section of the company they are from. In some cases, employees working in IT divisions take part in order to acquire techniques for motivating field service personnel; in other cases, executives take the initiative with regard to participation in workshops.

The most common pattern with regard to workshop participation is that all divisions participate in a workshop, with several junior members from each division attending the sessions. Workshops provide opportunities for not only representatives of the IT division representatives, but also employees involved in field servicing as well as the staff members in charge of business planning, personnel and general affairs to get together and have in-depth discussions about the future of their company. Developing a vision is of course important. However, experiencing the process of developing a vision is also important, as it is the first step toward innovation in a company.

But how do you develop a vision, specifically?

We ask participants to provide ideas for solving the various issues that companies are faced with. For example, the deployment of tablets hasn't produced any tangible benefits; or it's difficult to develop the indicators you need to get a new system approved by the management; or a company is trying to change work styles at the same time as an office relocation, but they are facing difficulties in providing a clear vision for the change. Or perhaps field service innovation programs have been running for years but have yet to produce any significant benefits.

Then, over two or three months, Fujitsu's expert team1 analyzes work styles, develops a new vision, describes work processes based on the vision, and develops a road map, KPIs and KGIs, as well as ICT implementation strategies.

1: Fujitsu Design, Fujitsu Research Institute, and Fujitsu's system management and system engineering companies each provide experts to form an expert team.
2: UX: User Experience

Is it true that Fujitsu's Work Renaissance concept also originated from this kind of workshop?

That's right. Our video "Work Renaissance: Human-centric ICT and Work Styles for Tomorrow" explains very clearly how we worked together with our customers to create the Work Renaissance concept, using an approach centered around future work-style innovation.

Work Renaissance is a concept that relates to future work styles developed by Fujitsu. Employees from different divisions gather together to hold a workshop and discuss how to maximize their individual capabilities through the use of ICT. They then summarize their discussions. The concept was created based on what the participants wanted to do: to create a team that can link not only data but also ideas together and to work and live in their own style. This video was also made by junior employees who took part in the workshop.

Services like these came on-line as a result of our ongoing efforts to consider what we need to do to support our customers and meet their needs. In addition to these kinds of efforts, professional skills are also needed to create high-quality services. Fortunately, the Fujitsu Group includes companies that specialize in software design and consulting, such as Fujitsu Design and the Fujitsu Research Institute. We were able to achieve successful results thanks to the efforts of the many people at these companies who have skills in designing UX services.

The ability to visualize this vision using high-quality design is extremely useful in achieving a consensus, the most important element in work style innovation. A well designed concept map or movie can sometimes be more convincing than a 100-page report.

Work Renaissance: People-friendly ICT and Work Styles for Tomorrow

What kind of work would you like to do in the future?

When I first joined Fujitsu, I was a researcher at Fujitsu Laboratories, who specialized in artificial reality technology.

Out of the many projects I've worked on, my most memorable work was jointly developing the computer software program "TEO, Another Earth" with Makoto Tezuka, the visualizationist and movie director. This program enables users to access an imaginary planet called TEO and communicate with the various creatures who inhabit it. We used technologies that were innovative at the time, including artificial intelligence, real-time OS and computer graphics, as well as a keyboard-less interface and speech recognition. These got a lot of recognition from computer experts and researchers.

Ever since I was a child, I've always had great passion for computers. I belong to a generation that believed in the dream that computers would someday lead humanity to happiness. In fact, I was already writing computer programs when I was in elementary school. Through this project, I also became firmly committed to the idea that people shouldn't be controlled by computers.

In 2000, I was transferred from Fujitsu Laboratories to the Marketing Division at Fujitsu's Head Office. Initially, I joined a section that provided support services for venture companies planning to start new businesses; later I joined the General Product Strategy Headquarters, which is where I work now.

At Fujitsu Laboratories, I was working on the development of technology at the absolute cutting edge. By contrast, marketing is all about promoting already released technologies that are finished products.

Products become valuable only when they are used by customers. When I was working as a researcher, I didn't have any close contact with our customers. Fortunately, however, the TEO project gave me the chance to get involved in cross-divisional work, all the way through from the development of new technologies up to the delivery of the finished product. I've really benefitted from this experience in my current work.

In this age where the Internet is being fused with other technologies, engineers need to get experience working close to field services. Engineering for technology development and product marketing may seem entirely unrelated. For me, however, they're extensions of each other.

I've been working to develop services that really support our customers, so I'm pleased to have the opportunity to develop products. I'm very much interested in developing new devices and products that can drive society forward.

I dived into the world of marketing from the lab, and I want to make a contribution to the development of powerful products that are unique to Fujitsu. I firmly believe that new visions and technologies can transform our society.

Present and Future of Work Style Innovation: an Interview with Expert Soichi Nishiyama (Part 1)