Kathy Gibson is at Fujitsu ActivateNow – It is time to reimagine how our businesses and societies can be better.

That’s the overriding message from Takahito Tokita, CEO and chief digital transformation officer of Fujitsu, talking to delegates at the company’s virtual global forum.

Innovation is set to have a massive effect on our lives and society, he says.

“Last year now feels like a different world. It is hard to imagine that in Japan we had 40 000 sales and engineering staff working in the same rooms as our customers – this is completely changed.”

Fujitsu’s VPN demand shot up when workers had to work from home and the company accelerated its network rollout to cope.

The company’s delivery offices, offering services and helpdesks to customers worldwide, had to move from office-based to remote work almost overnight, he says – at a time when customers needed services more than ever.

“We managed to do so without compromising on SLAs.”

Fujitsu also pulled out all the stops to deliver content to the world’s scientific community and to learning institutions.

In terms of helping customers, Fujitsu has been proactive in helping its customers to make the shift quickly and securely, Tokita adds.

“Business in every industry is changing beyond recognition,” he points out.

In manufacturing, it has become clear that centralised manufacturing and global supply chains are fragile. In production and distribution, it has become almost impossible to plan efficiently.

Meanwhile, service industries have faced massive challenges not only in providing services in the physical world while ensuring people’s safety, but rebalancing with online services at the same time.

“We have all had to adapt,” Tokita says. “No one knows what is next, and how long this can last. Our past experiences are no guide as to what will happen in the future.”

All of this points to a future where disruption is certain. “We need to make business resilient for an uncertain world.

“This crisis has accelerated digitalisation. Not surprisingly, many organisations have recognised the need to use digital technology to remain resilient,” Tokita says.

“This crisis is an opportunity to rethink our business and our ways of working to something completely new – because we are not going back.”

Fujitsu is no exception to the disruptions facing companies around the world. “We are thinking about the future and we are changing,” Tokita explains.

“As many other organisations have returned to the office, we have continued with remote work. We have implemented a new concept, Work-Life-Shift, to transform the way our people work.

“Now is the time to imagine a new way of business in a new society. In an uncertain world it is important to make clear what our purpose is: why do we exist as an organisation and where are we heading?”

To talk about how to reimagine business and society, we have to look at it from a human perspective, Tokita says. “People can play a more important role than before. Choosing their own way of working they can unleash their creativity.”

Fujitsu has rolled out its Work-Life-Shift strategy to its 80 000 employees.

This is underpinned by three initiatives: smart working to enable optimal working styles; borderless offices that transcend physical workplaces; and culture change.

Culture change is arguably the most important of these, Tokita says. “We had to build trust. We are changing our culture to be more open and collaborative; and each employee works with purpose and collaborates.”

Work-Life-Shift is now being made available to Fujitsu customers. “We will use our own experience to help customers reimagine their own way of working and execute it with technology,” Tokita adds.