It was incredibly serene looking out over the Thames this morning. You could see the imposing skyscrapers on the Isle of Dogs, clippers chugging by on the water and of course the silhouette of Fujitsu’s own connected van.
That’s because today Fujitsu World Tour 2017 arrived in North Greenwich.
By contrast, the business landscape doesn’t feel quite as serene at the moment. Organisations in every sector face disruption: of their business models, their value chains and even their own positions.
That’s exactly why the focus of World Tour is how we can realise the opportunity, and not just the threat, that digital presents: by working together to deliver meaningful innovation, through co-creation.
Attendees from far and wide have come together to share their insights and learn more about the technologies that can transform how they work. Here are just eight things that we learned at World Tour 2017.
Digital disruption is like a Great Wave
One of the most poignant images of the day came during a morning keynote by Yoshikuni Takashige, offering a Perspective from Japan. Takashige-san shared a famous image from the Japanese art of ukiyo-e, Hokusai’s Great Wave.
In the distance, you can see the serene peak of Mount Fuji but in the foreground, boats of people are being hit by the turbulence of enormous waves.
Takashige likened this experience to businesses today, being hit by wave after wave of digital disruption that are threatening to engulf entire industries.
But amidst this threat, businesses have the opportunities to ride these waves – and seize enormous opportunities for growth. By co-creating, businesses can create entirely new propositions – and address some of the biggest challenges of our time.
Takashige completed his talk with the much more calming image of Red Fuji – the destination that all businesses are hoping to reach. By innovating together, we can climb our own digital mountains.
The six golden rules of co-creation
But what is the best approach to collaborating together to innovate? In the digital co-creation workshop, James Bambrough gave his six golden rules of co-creation:
- Start with end in mind – what are you actually trying to achieve?
- Use a framework, not a methodology – methodologies can be restrictive, but a looser framework retains control while giving people room to move
- Communicate, collaborate, diversify – surround yourself with a group of people who bring a range of skills and experience to the table, then empower them all to challenge ideas
- Engage your audience – put the customer first at all times, and ask them what they want. Create visuals and prototypes to bring your ideas to life
- Prove fast; prove cheap – James doesn’t like to use the term ‘fail fast’. He argues it’s not failing but proving (even if you’re proving it doesn’t work)
- Test, iterate and test again – always be testing and trying to improve your product, making small changes as you go
Bringing back the ‘theatre’ of shopping through in-store technology
Over to the morning retail session, in which a panel of heavy-hitters from Specsavers, Intel, Forward in Fashion and Fujitsu discussed the results of our recent Forgotten Shop Floor survey.
The general consensus was that high street stores need to stop trying to compete with the likes of Amazon and find their own differentiator – namely the ‘theatre’ of a physical shopping experience that you can’t get online.
And tech is the enabler for that. Data can help you understand your customers and what your differentiator could be, then tech like augmented reality can help deliver that engaging experience.
Some examples of this very tech were demonstrated perfectly in the retail showcase – including personalised retail experiences. The transparent fridge uses facial recognition, to display tailored advertisements based on characteristics like age and gender (for example, I was invited to get some beer to pair with my pizza for a lads night in).
Imagine being able to tailor every in-store experience for customers based on what you already knew about them – the possibilities are enormous, and may be the theatre that sets the store apart.
Advanced cyber-threats need advanced solutions
Cybersecurity was a central focus today – particularly as cyber attacks were picked out by the keynote audience as their biggest fear when considering digital transformation.
In a talk with Symantec we learnt that when it comes to security we need to take a step back to look at the problem and define our objectives. The conversation needs to start with what’s the preferred risk posture? This will help define how much you can spend on security and provides a consistent point of reference to guide decision making.
CISOs now see the security tools themselves as the biggest risk in their business. With so many applications across the business performing different functions and working in a silo’ed way. The need to bring these together to create a single line of defence is huge.
As security is increasingly being seen as a competitive advantage, businesses must build security into their systems and workflows from the outset to prevent, not cure.
Preparing for the banking and insurance world of 2020
The BBC’s Ben Thompson was on hand to lead a panel of Fujitsu financial services experts, tackling the small question of what the world might look like in just three years’ time.
As a journalist, Ben said, his job is to talk about change – and help people make sense of it. In the past 15 years he’s spent at the BBC, he said, there’s never been a year quite like this one.
Anthony Duffy and Mark Boulton both agreed that businesses will need to match the pace of change if they’re going to stay afloat, while Ian Bradbury emphasised that customer experience will be key to making this work.
Disruptors, Ian said, have already proven their ability to put users front and centre and deliver experiences that not only work but delight while doing so. Established financial services institutions would do well to be mindful of this as they plan for a more adaptable, digital future.
They should be mindful of security too, said Alex Shearer, and involve their security teams in the digitisation process as early as possible. When it comes to cyber attacks occurring, it’s now a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.
The CISO is no longer the person who just says ‘no’ to new ideas; bringing them in early is the only way to avoid costly problems further down the line.
Understanding the hype behind hybrid IT
One of the hottest topics for the day was how to actually execute digital innovation – and crucial to that is hybrid IT.
In the Digital Co-creation with Hybrid IT breakout session, Fujitsu’s Mark Phillips ran through some of the key elements required for successful digital transformation. APIs were a key theme: he described them as “the backbone of the digital economy.” But how should businesses get started with transformation?
“The secret is to find quick wins within the organisation,” he said. Co-creating through partnerships is one way of accelerating this further.
To see more on co-creation in Hybrid IT check out the Hybrid Hive’s Periscope with Mark.
The new era of charity donations
Like every other industry, digital technology is changing the way that charity works. Contactless payments are fast becoming one of the most popular payment methods – and that has implications for how charities collect donations on the street.
Fujitsu is working with Macmillan Cancer Support to develop a creative way to use contactless payments to drive donations, particularly in busy areas of cities, and at the showcase everyone was invited to participate too.
Attendees at World Tour were asked to try two new donation methods developed by Fujitsu – a contactless donations bucket and swiping a giant foam hand – and vote for the method that they preferred. After a long day of voting, and many kind donations, the winning concept was – the contactless donations bucket!
The contactless donations bucket will now be used to make donations quick and simple for passersby, and provide crucial data on donations hotspots that Macmillan can use to plan their fundraising.
Seeing through the technology to what matters
When it comes to strategy digital transformation is not a technology issue but a business issue, says Patrick Smith.
He argued that without a properly aligned approach to digital, money can go misspent. This means looking beyond the technology and seeing the change it can bring.
Doing digital properly is dependent on putting the customer first, getting efficient processes in place, and making the most of the data you have available to you. And this requires leadership that understands how all of this should work.
As Patrick says, technology should be treated as a consequence and an enabler of transformation, and not the sole reason for why we’re doing it.
And a final thought…
At the beginning of the day, James Johnston opened World Tour 2017 by posing a simple challenge: to change your business model before someone else does it for you.
The sessions and showcases throughout the day aimed to show that the technology and the expertise to respond to digital disruption is out there.
There are huge opportunities ahead, but the challenge lies in having the confidence to change your business model. Through co-creation, it is absolutely possible to thrive in the digital future.
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