We’re still one sleep away from welcoming all 14,000 guests through the doors of Munich’s ICM centre as Fujitsu Forum 2016 officially kicks off.
But for those of us lucky enough to attend the press day there have been plenty of insights to get excited about already.
Let’s take a look at the highlights from ‘day zero’…
The age of the digital workplace
First to take the stage were Ramanan Ramakrishna and Robin Lipscomb, here to talk about the digital workplace and its ability to empower employees.
They talked about CaixaBank and how it has transformed both the customer and employee experience through technology, not just on the surface but across the entire banking process.
Robin called this renewed focus on the user “a fusion of people, machines and technology.”
Analytics was another big area for discussion, particularly its ability to enable digital transformation by capturing and exploiting both internal and external-facing data.
Ramanan said, “The new workplace is based on what you’re doing, not where you are.”
This was the core message in the discussions: the idea of the workplace being something that goes with you. It’s about providing employees with the services and data they need and then using analytics to drive decision-making.
Cyber security – a growing issue
Fujitsu’s EMEIA head of security John Swanson said, “Security is no longer an IT issue. It is a business issue. Every week a new breach is reported in the press. For consumers it’s about trust, but for organisations it’s about reputation and so security must underpin digital transformation.”
He added that cyber adversaries are no longer “hackers in dark rooms” – they are educated and skilled people who have turned it into a profession.
So how do we tackle this growing threat?
Fujitsu’s EMEIA head of enterprise and cyber security, Rob Norris, said we need to adapt from just fixing cyber security issues to really understanding how cyber criminals work, adding that AI tools can help proactively look for patterns in ways humans can’t.
The evolving role of IT
There’s been lots of talk about the changing role of IT this year. It is fast moving from a function that serves to reduce costs to a strategic and revenue-driving arm of the business.
Digital transformation is a key part of this, particularly when it comes to the rising adoption of cloud services.
Fujitsu’s head of Hybrid IT Mark Phillips said, “Cloud is now driving the top line rather than simply preserving the bottom line.”
“We’re seeing much more mission-critical parts of a business operating in the cloud,” he added.
But as cloud adoption increases companies need to beware of ‘vendor lock-in’, so a focus on interoperability between different cloud platforms is essential.
What’s new in IoT?
IoT has been one of the biggest buzzwords of 2016, but does it live up to the hype?
David Rosewell sat down with a panel of IoT experts to find out what IoT really means for brands and consumers now and in future.
One key question was who should own IoT in an organisation.
DHL CIO Dr Markus Voss said that while it shouldn’t be exclusively owned by the CIO or CTO, it does act as an effective way to beef up the role of technology leaders and get them a seat at the table regarding key business decisions.
So should companies be developing an IoT strategy? On that question the panel was divided.
“It seems strange to put something so business-critical in place without a strategy to manage it,” said Global Delivery Group’s IoT lead, Alex Bazin.
But Fujitsu Globeranger lead, Nabil Lodey, sees it more like giving someone a Fitbit.
“You’re giving people information that helps them make better decisions and I don’t think that they need a specific strategy for that.”
And how will we be talking about IoT in three years’ time? Dr Voss believes consumers “will have much better services, no deliveries hitting your home when you’re not there, for example.”
Nabil Lodey doesn’t think we’ll be talking about ‘IoT’ at all – instead it will have fragmented into three or four sub-categories such as machine learning.
Tapping into the CTO’s mind
To round off the day we had a Q&A session with Fujitsu’s European CTO Dr Joseph Reger, who paced the packed room fielding questions from journalists.
Much of what he covered revolved around machine learning, which you’ll be able to hear much more about in his talk on Thursday. So we won’t give too much away!
But some of the most interesting points Dr Reger made were around the morality of machine learning (or lack thereof).
He pointed to the example of a driverless car swerving to avoid a collision (because that’s what it’s been programmed to do) but colliding with people in the process.
“You might be getting exactly what you specified (from AI),” he said, “but not what you want. As a society we need to talk about this.”
He also addressed the idea that AI will take jobs as it becomes more widespread, citing the fact that people said the same thing about steam trains and electricity and robotics.
“All those things did reduce jobs,” he said, “but then they created more jobs in the long run.”
Dr Reger closed by describing the rise of AI as “inevitable.”
“It will come, whatever we do,” he said. “The only question is: are we prepared for it?”
Lots more to come…
I’ll end with a quote from Mark Phillips: “I’ve been in this industry 25 years and it’s easy to get cynical after all that time, but I’ve never been more excited about tech’s ability to improve the world we live in.”
Inspiring stuff as we hang our passes up for the night and prepare for the main event tomorrow – look forward to seeing you there!
Keep an eye on our @Fujitsu_UK and @FujitsuUKEvents Twitter channels for updates leading up to and during the event. We’ll also be broadcasting live on Periscope at several points throughout the event so make sure you don’t miss those. For even more, check out the event hashtag #FujitsuForum.
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