Nomura Research Institute (NRI) hosted the NRI Dream Up the Future Forum 2017 at the Tokyo International Forum in October 2017. The theme was “Digital Opening in the Near Future,” with discussions on how Japan and the world as a whole should address digitalization. The second half of the forum featured a dialogue between culture critic Jeremy Rifkin and NRI President and CEO Shingo Konomoto, and a discussion with a panel of NRI specialists. Maoko Kotani, main newscaster for a TV news program, served as moderator. These multi-perspective discussions centered on issues like company growth and solutions to social issues.
Link to article on Part one
Dialogue: How will digitalization proceed in the world? What will happen in Japan’s future?
Rifkin and Konomoto engaged in a dialogue on digitalization, with newscaster Kotani serving as moderator. Kotani started off by saying that their lectures had allowed her to understand the importance of the world embracing the sharing economy, and asked them, “What are the obstacles?” “There have to be more leaders that can lead the world on a global scale,” Rifkin answered.
Rifkin went on to say that the Third Industrial Revolution, unlike the First and Second with their more centralized progression, will have a more democratized progression. Under the Third Industrial Revolution, companies that try to monopolize the market will end up actually hurting their productivity, and so the idea of there being an industrial sector will begin to dissipate.
From left to right: Maoko Kotani, culture critic Jeremy Rifkin, and NRI President Shingo Konomoto
Konomoto expressed his agreement with Rifkin, saying that the vertical integration model of industry will start breaking down with the progression of digitalization. He also expressed his thoughts on how digital society is bringing us towards a more democratized network, and how security would be a significant issue going forward.
Following Rifkin’s prediction that efforts towards the sharing economy would increase exponentially throughout the world, Konomoto concluded their dialogue with the following: “In Japan, where companies tend to be conservative, this evolution might end up being a few steps behind. However, once we’re past a certain point, I believe progress will come all at once. I believe one of NRI’s missions is to support companies in this endeavor.”missions is to support companies in this endeavor.”
Panel Discussion: How do we lead social change due to digitalization?
At the end of the forum, NRI employees Fumihiko Kamio (Social System Consulting Department), Ryoji Kashiwagi (Business IT Innovation Department), and Noriyuki Kobayashi (Global Manufacturing Industry Consulting Department) participated in a panel discussion. Kotani served as moderator here as well.
Kamio, who engages in regional revitalization efforts, introduced cases in which people in regions with drastically decreasing populations were coming together, albeit in small numbers, to utilize digital technologies and operate social infrastructure. He went on to say that digitalization is necessary for these regional societies to become more independent, and that “the digital would be realized in local regions.”
Kashiwagi, a specialist in finance, discussed how Japan, with its devotion to cash, is behind in terms of digitalization on the financial front, but that with respect to new fields like cryptocurrency (including things like laws and regulations), Japan is actually more advanced than other countries. Because of this, he went on, there is potential for Japan to come up with globally unique services that utilize blockchain technologies in a digitalized financial field.
Kobayashi, a specialist in manufacturing, predicted that in the manufacturing industry, competition in digital society would come to depend on the amount of consolidated added value that things and services could provide customers, regardless of the type of product. He said that there was a need for Japanese companies to propose new business models based on digital technologies, but that the amount of venture capital invested in Japan is not, in reality, dramatically less than in U.S., Europe, and China. He also warned, however, of the current lack in Japan of the spirit of innovation and challenge, due to people’s complacency with the current state of society.
At the end, the moderator Kotani concluded the forum with a few words: “Today’s forum was full of hints for how Japan could become a leader in the next-generation digital society. We hope that it was of help to you all.”
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