The Only Sustainable Form of Differentiation is Innovation – NTT Innovation Summit 2020

Innovation allows us to make things or processes easier, faster and even enables us to do things we did not think we could do in the past. For businesses, innovation also means competitive advantage, empowering them to stand out from the crowd. Whether organisations innovate for their own good or for competition, there is one thing for sure: innovation breeds advancement for everyone.

In the words of Jason Goodall, Group CEO, NTT Ltd., at the virtual NTT Innovation Summit 2020, “If you look at what's happening in the world, with the emerging technologies [and] different business models that are hitting us from all angles, innovation has become key to the way that we operate our businesses as we go forward”.

Speaking about the effects of the pandemic, Jason said that organisations need to prioritise innovation, especially with the changing business landscape. With customer requirements and demands shifting at an ever-increasing rate, the only way to ensure that companies remain relevant to their clients is to ensure that they have an innovative mindset that drives their organisation.

“It's not only about being innovative from a mindset perspective. You have to have structure, you need a plan and a program and you have to invest behind innovation to make sure that you actually get the returns that you need in an organisation”, added Jason.

According to him, organisations need to keep up and stay relevant to the rate of change happening in the world. In order to remain relevant, make sure to also remain innovative, ensuring that businesses use technologies that engage both customers and employees.

In NTT, Jason said that their open-innovation framework harnesses the collective effort of internal and external innovators and innovations. This model includes InnerSourcing, which is innovation through the collaboration for transformation and services and Co-Innovation, innovation achieved with clients and partners.

He added, “Innovation is no longer a choice, but it really is the lifeblood for all of our businesses as we go forward and we need to take the creative side. We really need to put some structure and some modelling around it to make sure that we can get the outcomes that we need as a business, as an industry”.

Discussing the trends of innovations today, Nadeem Ahmad, Senior Vice President, Technology Strategy, NTT Ltd., said there are two key happenings this year that have driven the urgency for disruptive technologies: The pandemic and the impact of climate change.

“This is the common theme that binds organisations to realise a sustainable society. Now, there are several exciting and potentially fundamental disruptive technology trends in our industry that promise to help us realise safety and security support, sustainable growth and reduce environmental loads”, Nadeem explained.

These key trends include five disruptive technologies, which, according to Nadeem, businesses should consider:

  1. All-Photonics Networks (APNs) could contribute to your organisation from sustainability goals as they will allow you to operate an ultra-low-power communication system using just one one-hundredth of the power consumption required by today's networks. Using optical and hybrid cabling, APNs enable information transmission between the terminal and the server.

  2. The benefits to your operations of using Cognitive Foundation (CF) to link virtualised ICT resources and integrating them with diverse networks and systems. CF creates an information processing platform capable of analysis and forecasting that is not constrained by the format of system or data.

  3. Prediction systems, which are the basis of Digital Twin Computing (DTC), can benefit your organisational ecosystem, from traffic congestion to disease control. Digital twins are virtual representations of real-world environments, products or assets.

  4. The evolution of the ‘citizen developer’ and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will reshape business, enabling them to automate certain tasks and processes. RPA will eventually shift staff productivity into a higher gear.

  5. Edge Computing will be the foundation for additional technology areas, especially when it comes to near real-time applications and artificial intelligence at the edge. Aside from this, quantum computers can solve problems that are computationally too difficult for a traditional computer to do.

Before he ended the session, Nadeem aptly said, “Technology does not determine human action. Rather, human actions shape technology”. He then passed the presentation over to Rob Lopez, Executive Vice President Intelligent Infrastructure, NTT Ltd. and Muna Khurshid, Vice President, Intelligent Infrastructure, NTT Ltd., who continued the discussion around infrastructure insights and technology trends we can look forward to in 2021.

Rob said that there are two things organisations should consider for their IT infrastructure: How it supports their customers and their employees. He mentioned that NTT is leading the way for such trends, and gave an example of a major retailer that they are working with.

He further explained, “When their customer walks into their retail location, the infrastructure to Wi-Fi capabilities can automatically detect who this customer is, what their preferences have been and what their buying cycles have been. Based on that data, they are able to push notifications on screens in the store highlighting things that may be of interest for the clients”.

Not only does this help the customers, but it also changed the employee experience. According to Rob, such innovations will continue to change how people work and evolve further as we come out of the pandemic.

Additionally, employees’ remote locations have become an extension of organisations, and connectivity will continue to play a big part in their digital transformation. This calls for a change in infrastructure, utilising more of cloud computing and other related technologies.

Muna ended by suggesting to businesses that “This is the time to reimagine your infrastructure. Imagine if you could use your infrastructure to drive the digital transformation that you’ve been planning for the last couple of months, even for the last couple of years. Focus on how you could enhance employee experience, customer experience and what innovation and growth could that bring to you as a business”.

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