What is innovation in the digital economy era?
The digital revolution is progressing globally, and we are seeing one world-changing innovation after another. IoT is making all kinds of business activity smarter, AI is facilitating big data analysis, and FinTech is revolutionizing the financial sector—manufacturing, finance, distribution, services, and every other sector is plunging headfirst into the digital economy.
NRI believes in the importance of “open innovation” in the digital economy era—bringing together technology and know-how from our own company and other companies to facilitate new technological developments that a single company can’t achieve alone and enabling more rapid research and development.
Although independent research and development has not lost its effectiveness, when bringing new products and services to the market in this age of digitalization, it is necessary to more rapidly provide products that meet customers’ needs. Because the pace of advancements has significantly increased, spending too much time developing a product or service can mean that by the time the product or service is ready for the market, customers’ needs and technological trends may have changed to the extent that the product or service is already rendered obsolete.
NRI, which provides IT services to companies, public agencies and other customers, believes it is necessary to increase the value of solutions that support companies’ important business operations while also putting efforts into innovation in new fields. In order to innovate successfully, it is crucial to free ourselves from the restraints of our internal resources and rapidly engage in numerous trials and experiments. In order to do that, we must partner with outside companies and organizations that have strengths in various fields.
Open innovation and joint creative endeavors at NRI
In 2012, NRI built a new business creation framework called “NRI Mirai (Future) Garage”. With this venture, we are aiming to come together with customers to consider how IT can be used to create new business structures and what problems we can solve, and to test our theories through proof-of-concepts.
Rather than starting to consider a project after getting a customer request, we bring together ideas about what we can do and consider the project together from the start. NRI then examines the available technology and rapidly creates a proof-of-concept system, which is used to examine and improve upon the initial concept. Products born in the “Mirai Garage” are not put to use as is, yet the efforts made there are a valuable means for both our customers and ourselves to proceed efficiently to the next stage.
One more initiative is the “NRI Hackathon”, which started in 2014. The word “hackathon” combines “hacker” and “marathon” and refers to a development event in which engineers, designers and planners gather to work together intensively during a limited period of time to create software. There would be no innovation without a desire to take on new challenges. At the hackathon, we provide a theme, solicit ideas, and have a contest to turn the chosen idea into a tool. Through this contest, we anticipate the emergence of people who, rather than passively carrying out assigned tasks, seek to take on the challenge of new ideas and technologies to become leaders of social change.
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
Corporate Communications Department