Envisioning the future state of business and society is an essential exercise for any organization. But amid the unforeseen circumstances of Covid-19, do our projections of the future need to radically change?
I spoke with David Gentle, our Director of Strategy and Foresight here at Fujitsu, to discuss what the 2020 Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision means for Fujitsu's customers, partners, employees and stakeholders.
So, David, could you first explain the purpose of Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision?
Of course. So the report outlines Fujitsu’s perspective on the future of business and society, and what we’re doing as an organization to help shape this for the better.
We release this report annually, and focus on the trends and technologies that will allow us to develop a future that’s truly human-centric. Developing each year’s report is a way for us to highlight for our customers, partners and employees what’s changed, as well as what hasn’t, over those 12 months.
Our aspiration for the Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision is to identify the big picture challenges faced not only by business, but by our wider society. We then aim to showcase how technology can and should rise to help address these challenges. And especially the role digital transformation can play in this.
We hope this will help Fujitsu’s customers and community around the world to plot their trajectory and inform their decision making.
It’s also important for our own organization. The Vision gives over 130,000 Fujitsu people globally a consistent way to engage with our customers and inspire conversations that create value.
The COVID-19 pandemic must have been a big consideration for the 2020 report. Has this changed Fujitsu’s direction to aim for?
Human centricity remains the ultimate destination for technology and services. But you’re right too, that the pandemic has caused us to question what factors may be even more important to reaching this, and how we define those skills.
The two biggest examples are trust and resilience.
In the 2019 report focused on driving a trusted future in a chaotic world. We were looking at how technology plays a role in issues like fake news and privacy. As well as how businesses should operate ethically to help counter political unrest and climate change.
Now it’s clear just how essential it is for businesses to work out where they fit appropriately in the bigger societal ecosystem. We’re seeing companies going through this right now with COVID-19, but in truth this only brings into focus a trend that was already important.
Public awareness of which organizations create value for society and community – not just shareholders – will only increase. To deliver sustainable, long term growth, it’s vital that organizations define their purpose for society, and deliver on this promise.
Resilience is the second characteristic we pinpointed in 2019 and has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
We were looking at this from a perspective of how businesses can adapt their operations in the fast world of technological change. However, it’s become increasingly clear that resilience also means being able to respond to the most extreme unforeseen circumstances.
Trust and resilience feel like two very human-centric characteristics. Has 2020’s report shown any changes in the way businesses perceive their employees?
Yes, overall there’s change – and it’s happening from the bottom-up.
Business leaders in particular are moving their focus towards people. They understand the importance of having an engaged, empowered workforce, of developing skills as well as delivering for customer and wider society. Humans are truly becoming the driving force on every level, which is why we’re seeing more and more businesses aspiring to take positive roles within wider society. In fact, it’s been described as a move toward a multi-stakeholder world.
How does technology play a role in this human-centric approach to employees? Is there a space for it?
Certainly, if anything technology is being used more than ever as a tool to help humans reach the outcomes they need, whether that be talking to someone remotely, or working out risks.
There are three areas of technology that really fit into this dynamic, and are discussed within the report. They are Explainable AI, Digital Annealer, and Digital Trust.
Explainable AI allows us to understand why an AI solution gives an answer – it’s not just a black box. This can be vital for many different contexts, but one example is its role in diagnosing and auditing scans for cancer.
The Digital Annealer is a unique, quantum-inspired technology allowing for the rapid solution of complex combinatorial optimization challenges. This has a wide variety of applications including financial portfolio management, drugs development, traffic routing and automotive manufacturing.
Digital Trust can be enabled by technologies such as blockchain, biometrics and cyber security, that provide transparency and robustness in the digital world. But technology is just one part of the solution. We need to work out new ways of doing business to fully achieve the benefits.
So why should people read this 2020’s Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision?
By now, many in the Fujitsu family share our view that future is human-centric, as I’ve explained above.
But as recent experiences have shown us, the route to that journey may become blocked, not necessarily for any failure of planning, but just down to the world changing.
The Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision is an opportunity to take a pit stop and recalibrate the route to one that suits the rocky terrain ahead, and beyond.
The Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision report is available to read here. Download now to read more on the trends David has mentioned, together with examples of how technology is already turning vision into reality.