Support innovation – Stimulate broad use

Dr Akira Sudo, *Representative Executive Officer, Toshiba Corporation

By Claire Marchand

IEC Global Visions interviewed Dr Akira Sudo, *Representative Executive Officer, Toshiba Corporation. In this interview, he explains how active participation in IEC work enables Toshiba to accelerate technology innovation and allows more companies to adopt, connect with and use their technologies.

Early partners

Toshiba’s involvement in the IEC dates from the early days of the Commission and hasn’t faltered ever since.

One of the company’s founders, Ichisuke Fujioka, was a member of the preparatory meeting and attended the official inauguration of the IEC in London in 1906. Then in 2002, Dr Sei-ichi Takayanagi, a former Corporate Senior Executive Vice President of Toshiba, became the 30th IEC President.

International Standards key to access global markets

Dr Sudo explains that, for Toshiba and other Japanese companies, the need for International Standards only arose some 20-30 years ago when they started to expand outside of Japan. Until then, Japanese companies had focused mainly on the domestic market and hadn’t seen the necessity to comply with International Standards.

The situation changed when Japanese companies wanted to do business with other countries and realized they couldn’t sell their technologies and products because they couldn’t communicate or connect with others. That was an awakening for Sudo and many others who became aware of the importance of International Standards for products to be accepted on the international scene.

Highest degree of interoperability

Sudo adds that nowadays Smart communities are being built around the globe and the need for standardization is further increasing. Companies need to innovate, standardize and then develop their business, while continuing to innovate, an endless circle.

Sudo further explains that Toshiba aims to combine ICT (Information and Communication Technology) with energy, energy storage and healthcare to achieve a safe, secure and comfortable society where people always come first. Close cooperation with companies outside of Japan is essential to achieve Toshiba’s vision of a “Human Smart Community”.

 International standardization is the medium that allows stakeholders throughout the world to speak the same language and reach the highest degree of interoperability.

IP no obstacle to standardization

Asked to share his thoughts on standardization in relation to intellectual property rights, Sudo says that it makes sense to have new and valuable technological developments standardized so that they can be widely spread and used. Refusing to share may lead to another – possibly inferior – technology developed by a competitor becoming the global standard.

Innovate fast to remain competitive

On the topic of innovation, Sudo says: “Today, you need to innovate fast […] and you need a mechanism that can help you achieve this. Targeted standardization is one weapon to accelerate product development. You set a target and clearly identify when you want to standardize what. This then becomes your goal and provides you with a timeframe - in other words, standardization becomes the roadmap. Let’s say the technology that you developed is recognized as an International Standard; now it becomes easier to apply this technology elsewhere, including in other countries much more quickly. You reduce waste and enable further innovations. These are some of the advantages active participation in standardization offers.”

While Toshiba was originally manufacturing and selling stand-alone products, the company is today integrating its products and components into large systems and offering additional services such as maintenance and repair. Because the creation of such systems involves many companies, international standardization is a must.

In conclusion, Sudo is convinced that in future, companies will cooperate on increasingly larger systems: “If you have good technologies you need to make certain that others can connect with them and use them. If you don’t participate in standardization then your technologies may not be able to spread; it may be difficult for your company to cooperate with others on these large systems. I believe we all need to contribute to standardization to be able to work together in the future.”

* in June 2014

Akira Sudo toshiba Dr Akira Sudo, *Representative Executive Officer, Toshiba Corporation