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Fujitsu re-invents for the digital era

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Kathy Gibson at Fujitsu Forum, Munich – Fujitsu aims to re-invent itself as a connected services company, with co-creation at the heart of its strategy.

“We are not exiting technology,” stresses Duncan Tait, corporate executive officer: senior executive vice-president and head of Americas and EMEIA at Fujitsu. “Quite the opposite: we are actually strengthening our product business. But we are building a connected business model.

“There is value in those connections for our customers, our partners and for us.”

The company’s co-creation approach combines the latest technologies around cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) – all underpinned by security – and achieved together with partners.

“We believe that, within the next two years, more than half of large organisations will expect most of their IT capabilities to be provided through cloud services,” Tait says. “Cloud presents a major opportunity for them to become more agile, grow and accelerate digital transformation.”

Fujitsu has expanded its K5 cloud service, making it available in more regions including the UK, Germany, Finland, Spain, the US and Japan.

“K5 means our customers can leverage technologies that are becoming key for digital business such as IoT, AI, big data/analytics and blockchain,” Tait says. “It also enables the use and rapid development of cloud-native applications and services; and is now a Cloud Foundry Certified Platform.”

He believes the big market opportunity for cloud is in hybrid IT, an area that Fujitsu addresses with a portfolio that enables the end-to-end optimisation and management of hybrid IT and multi-cloud environments.

“We have leveraged and strengthened key partnerships with major technology players including VMware, Microsoft, Oracle and NetApp to provide customers with a smooth transition to hybrid IT and seamless system management.”

Factors like data residency, security and regulatory requirements are a challenge for data management, so Fujitsu has introduced private storage for public cloud and virtual private cloud environments in partnership with NetApp.

“This means data from multiple cloud types can now be stored privately and within geographic boundaries,” Tait explains.

IoT is the new buzzword in the industry, the connection of billions of devices driving the consumption of data centre services.

These sensors all create vast quantities of data, Tait explains, and this gives rise to new challenges as organisations seek to find the intelligence they need in these mountains of data.

“We are helping our customers to exploit this exciting opportunity with the recent opening of an Industry 4.0 Competency Centre that will focus on Industrial IoT (IIoT).

“The Competency Centre’s vision is ambitious but simple: to enable individual production down to individual units, at costs similar to mass production.”

New levels of intelligence can also be provided at the network edge, close to the sensors. This will also help in controlling and securing sensors and devices, as well as sending the highlights from this data to the cloud.

Fujitsu is using its own IIoT technology in its Augsburg, Germany IT campus.

“We have teamed up with the leading robotics manufacturer KUKA to introduce IIoT-controlled robotised production processes, as we take the next step in investing in our PC and server manufacturing business,” Tait says.

AI goes hand in hand with IoT, he adds, and Fujitsu has opened up a new AI Centre of Excellence in France where it is working with the French government to drive digital innovation in the country.

The company already has a number of AI initiatives running, including an image analysis solution at fuel service stations that gives customers a personalised experience at the pumps using input from a variety of different systems including CCTV cameras.

“Using AI to interpret images, the operator can recognise car brands as they are driven on to the forecourt and, by reading the license plate, can even recognise individual customers. The personalised solution they can then offer could include helping them to avoid filling a diesel-powered car with gasoline.”

The San Carlos Hospital in Madrid uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver much faster clinical assessments of patients. The hospital already rates the system as 95% accurate in its assessments, compared with a team of eight clinicians.

Fujistu has also implemented an AI-powered quality control system for Siemens Gamesa, the world’s second-largest wind turbine manufacturer. AI not only reduces the time needed for quality control checks, but is also able to detect minor flaws that are otherwise invisible to the human eye.

All the new technologies have to be underpinned with security, Tait points out. Criminal data breaches are predicted to cost businesses a total of $8-trillion over the next five years, with nearly 3-billion customer data records expected to be stolen this year alone.

“If you digitalise and don’t take security seriously, it will be a disaster at some point,” Tait believes.

Fujitsu is taking this seriously, and has created a Global Cyber Security organisation, optimising the capabilities of the 12 24/7 security operations centres (SOCs), supported by 2 000 security  professionals in five regions. Some of these SOCs are being developed into advanced threat centres to address continually-evolving cyberthreats.

Tait adds that while it’s adding to the technology solutions, Fujitsu is also strengthening what it calls the front lines: the people facing customers and working in development areas.

While it’s making these strategic changes within the organisation, the financials are moving in the right direction, Tait adds.

“We are making decent progress in our financials. Investors get the strategy, they can see we are executing it, and they can see the progress in the financial results.”