Making a good product no longer enough

Masami Yamamoto, President, Fujitsu explains why companies need to collaborate more than ever before with others

By Claire Marchand

IEC Global Visions interviewed Masami Yamamoto, President, Fujitsu, a globally leading information and communication technology company. In 2013, Fortune named Fujitsu “one of the World’s Most Admired Companies”. In this IEC Global Visions interview Yamamoto explains how active participation in IEC work enables Fujitsu to accelerate product development and facilitates the integration of technologies from different providers into total systems solutions.

Global from the onset

Since the early days, Fujitsu has believed in a global strategy. Its policy has always been to provide products and services based on technologies that can be used anywhere in the world. Standards, in particular IEC International Standards, are indispensable to pursue this goal.

For Masami Yamamoto, business will always be global and technology will be used globally. To survive as a global company, participation in international standardization is and will be a must.

In the past, Masami explains, it was enough to make a good product and to have somebody use that product for a long period of time. Today, you need to make a product that a great number of people around the world really want, and you need do so very quickly because its shelf life is shorter and shorter. Speed is of the essence but cannot be achieved to the detriment of quality. It is essential to develop and manufacture good products in record time for a global roll-out.

Connection and cooperation

People are more and more connected, Masami continues, and so are businesses. “When cycles are this fast, you can no longer do everything alone and therefore you need to be able to collaborate with others. That’s where international standardization enters the picture.

Yamamoto believes the world is increasingly horizontally, rather than vertically, integrated. In a horizontal business model, different players have different roles. Companies need to develop their core competencies, be unique and create products that are widely accepted. Fujitsu, Yamamoto says, provides services through integration. “To achieve this, we combine our own products with those from other vendors. With our know-how we are able to offer a total integrated systems solution to the customer.”

How standardization contributes to innovation

International standardization plays a major role in innovation and development. What a business can develop on its own is very limited today. For the most part, companies have to work with one another in a kind of “ecosystem” to build a product. For Yamamoto, “You need to know how to best leverage standards; this is both a challenge for companies and also key to their success.”

Global products have to evolve and improve daily, technology and quality wise. Standardization provides a foundation on which further improvements can be made. As such it impacts product quality greatly. “I believe it is easier to innovate and develop new products based on the solid basis that is a part of Standards.”

IP vs standardization

Yamamoto explains that for a company, intellectual property (IP) is a very important asset, but IP alone will not produce goods. “Of course we need to protect IP but on the other hand we also need to standardize and create an ecosystem so that products and services can be developed and can interconnect. The relationship between IP and standardization needs to be a balanced one. I believe it is important to use IP as a weapon to develop products based on Standards.”

When participating in the standard-setting process, experts have to understand how to protect their company’s IP. For Yamamoto, participating in international standardization work is crucial, the advantages in terms of volume and speed outweighing any potential risks.

What the future holds

Yamamoto sees a social role for IT in an aging society: “On the one side it will allow the elderly to stay in contact with those they care about, reducing their feeling of isolation. But IT will also allow them to lead a healthier more independent life for longer. Last but not least, IT will be an increasingly crucial component in providing better healthcare. With advancements in IT we can collect data and optimize care to patients. We believe there will also be a big business opportunity in providing elderly-friendly IT solutions.”

Get involved to make better products

Yamamoto invites companies that are not yet participating in IEC international standardization to join in the standard-development process. “It would be difficult to make a globally-relevant standard yourself all the time … so, while sometimes it may be sufficient to use a Standard that already exists, other times it is better to participate in developing a global Standard with others. By using this approach you can advance more quickly and make better products.”

IEC Global Visions Masami Yamamoto, President, Fujitsu