One of my personal highlights from the first full day of Fujitsu Forum 2013 was a panel debate featuring our very own Chief Technology Officer, Jon Wrennall, discussing some of the big issues of the day alongside some of our customers and partners.
While it’s impossible to wrap up what was a hugely lively session in its entirety, below are some of the biggest issues that we heard discussed.
Danny Reeves, CIO Services Division, Balfour Beatty:
One of the biggest issues that Danny raised was the potential for human-centric technology to revolutionise everything from public services to revenue streams.
Taking the seemingly innocuous example of a pothole in the road, Danny asked just how technology could be applied in a smarter way to help fix it. From using crowdsourced reporting to help track down the worst problem spots through to using augmented reality tech to overlay health and safety information to the repair team, Danny noted that one of the big challenges lies in putting the human need at the centre of technology decisions.
Peter O’Rourke, IT Director, University Campus Suffolk:
For Peter, one of the current big challenges lies in taking the complexity out of technology. Plenty of people know how to use the tech they have, he noted, but not necessarily how it works or why it works the way it does.
In a sentiment echoed by many of our panellists, Peter noted that saying “no” to customers when it comes to their technology choice is no longer an option. With a university full of students, he pointed out, you can’t worry about the individual devices they’re carrying and whether or not you can support them – instead, you have to consider how they’ll be used and how you support that human need.
Mark Fabes, IT Director, McDonalds:
Mark explained that it isn’t only technology that can create a positive disruption – customers can, too. With an increasing number of tech savvy customers entering branches, he said, the challenge is in being able to constantly surprise and delight them using the technology they’re bringing in with them.
Sharing the example of a smartphone app that allowed customers to download a frozen treat by ‘defrosting’ the screen in sunlight, Mark also discussed some of the tech innovations that McDonalds might look to employ in the future. He noted that the company’s Happy Meal range makes it one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world, and hinted at how in-store 3D printing could transform the experience of how those toys are delivered to customers.
Dave Hazard, Senior Vice President, Systemax:
Dave elaborated on the challenges of an increasingly complex operating system environment. With so much choice, he explained, knowing how best to support a range of mobile operating systems was becoming more important than ever. Part of the issue, he said, revolves around the growing popularity of what – even a few years ago – would have qualified as niche operating systems.
Dave also pondered the changing nature of communications technology; with a generation raised using IM and Facebook as their main way of interacting with each other, Dave wondered whether an evolution of email wasn’t long overdue.
Paul Blantern, CEO, Northamptonshire County Council:
Much as Mark heralded the rise of the tech-savvy customer, Paul noted that his priority is in helping people to help themselves through human-centric technology. Focusing specifically on those who are more vulnerable, Paul cited the virtues of adapting technology that already exists in order to serve the population better.
The opportunity to do that would only grow greater in the Big Data era, explained Paul – though the trick lies in being able to use that data to provide a better service without creating the feeling that you’re peering in on people’s lives.
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