With advancements in digital technology, opportunities for making practical use of AI, IoT, 5G, and the like have been growing exponentially. With this happening, for NRI to support our clients’ DX (Digital Transformation) efforts, it is essential to utilize data science in designing new business models, creating their foundations, and ultimately transforming the clients’ operations. We asked Shuji Tateno, an executive member of Nomura Research Institute (NRI) working with clients in industrial sectors, to discuss the approach he takes in his work to meet the needs of a diverse range of industries.
Experience gained at various NRI organizations as a key strength
After joining NRI, I spent my first 10 years developing applications for our clients in the distribution industry. Subsequently, I spent some time in Information Technology, then moved to Systems Consulting, where I was mainly involved in projects to support the system planning activities of our clients in the service and manufacturing industries. Then from 2017, I’ve been back in System Development, working with our clients in various industrial fields.
My main occupation is a systems engineer (SE) developing applications, but I’m fortunate to have been with information technology and consulting, gaining experience in two entirely different organizations. In Information Technology, I learned the importance of system architecture design. It’s not an exaggeration to say that quality and productivity are for the most part determined at this stage. With needs skyrocketing for 24-hour real-time systems these days, the importance of architecture has been increasingly on the rise. For the 10 years that I was involved in consulting, I learned the processes and methodologies for structuring a client’s business and challenges to comprehend the essential problems at hand. Plus, by directing my attention towards the client’s business itself, I realized how IT is the most crucial resource for elevating a company’s competitive abilities.
In this way, if SEs have a grasp of architecture and the client’s business, they can propose system solutions that have more value from the client’s perspective. I’m committed to a style of organizational management that strongly emphasizes cooperation with and among our company’s various segments, so that we can make the maximum contribution to our clients’ businesses.
Enhancing the real-time accuracy of information and the precision of future predictions, to create new value with our clients
Our clients have been coming to us more frequently for consultations about DX. “DX” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for every client, but I think our clients have a common awareness of the magnitude of the changes being wrought by recent technology on the business world. When it comes to new technologies, things like robots, autonomous driving, and sensors are gaining the public’s attention, but in terms of what’s having the greatest impact in the sense of transforming how companies do business, I think the real-time nature of information has become drastically more important.
For example, take dynamic pricing, which is starting to be introduced in the aviation and travel industries. This allows business operators to grasp their inventories and demand in real time, and it also gives consumers a base for gaining access to the latest price fluctuations. “Gain access to the latest information anytime, anywhere”—a feature that seems so simple, yet one that was difficult to achieve with traditional information systems.
Also, another core technology for DX involves “future predictions”. While statistical analysis technologies have been available in the past, they weren’t tools that could be incorporated into general information processing. This technology has seen a dramatic evolution in the past few years, and we’ve reached the point where anyone can easily incorporate cutting-edge research results into their systems. By combining future prediction technology—for predicting demand, predicting routes, predicting consumer preference—with real-time information, we are now seeing greater potential for creating new services.
Brainstorming various ideas with your clients as you think about new businesses is quite exciting. We learn about our clients’ businesses, and they learn about digital technology. As DX progresses, I think we’ll probably be moving away from the traditional relationship of outsourcing and contracting, and instead moving toward a relationship that entails crossovers between our fields of specialty as we create new value through collaboration.
Sharpening your assessment skills, and building an organization that can swiftly accommodate changes in clients’ businesses
To make that happen, we ourselves at NRI first must change. Creating ideas requires, first, a base knowledge and experience. Further, since new technologies and services are emerging all the time, it’s also necessary to sharpen our assessment skills.
With technology becoming more diversified, I’m currently getting involved hands-on in two kinds of activities in order to continuously enhance my experience and assessment abilities.
One is recruiting outside human resources. The reason is not simply for the purpose of finding people who are immediately work-ready; it’s that business experience in a variety of industries and business formats is required for creating new ideas. A growing proportion of our personnel are coming from the manufacturing industry, telecommunications providers, or other operating companies than from the information services field. The other activity is that, since last year, I’ve been working in earnest on our skill management system. This is something we constructed not for evaluation purposes, as much as for enabling every worker to refine themselves and internalize the knowledge they’ve gained as experience for real operations. Currently, 1,000 or more engineers from Industrial IT are participating in this program.
The diversification of technology is having a major impact on people’s individual productivity. In digital technology, differences in experience level lead to several orders of magnitude of differences in productivity. My aim is to create an organization that can maximally enhance individual productivity and can swiftly accommodate changes in our clients’ businesses.
Making social contributions through supporting our clients’ business activities
Minimizing the environmental impact of our data centers and our other equipment operations is naturally vital, but I also think it’s a key mission of ours to contribute to society by supporting our clients’ business activities. At present, many of our clients are tackling problems including labor shortages, waste-related losses, and environmental burdens, and we have started making efforts to support them in solving those problems. For instance, things like operational automation, optimal allocation of business resources, and supply chain optimization are areas where digitalization can help make social contributions, and we are actively conducting research and development activities in those areas.
My hope is for us to embody our corporate philosophy to “Build customer trust and establish relationships for mutual growth”, co-creating with our clients, and fulfilling our duty to contribute to society.
Senior Executive Managing Director, Director of Industrial Solution Business Development Division
- Shuji Tateno spent time in Distribution Systems Development and Information Technology, before holding positions as Head of Systems Consulting and Head of Quality Control. He then served as Deputy Head of the IT Platform Service Division (from April 2014), Head of the Systems Consulting Division (from April 2016), and Head of the Services & Industrial Solution Division (from April 2017), before assuming his current position in April 2020.