Table Speech

Initiation Speech I
Enjoying the New Internet Era

October 15, 2014

Mr. Tadaaki Chigusa
Chairman, Tokyo Bay Network Co., Ltd.

 At the outset, let me explain the basic mechanism of the internet. All the information in our PC or smartphone is digitalized and exists as either 0 or 1. When we write an e-mail, the sentences are converted into sequences of 0s and 1s. A certain length of such sequences attached with an e-mail address is sent as information parcel called a “packet” through the communication line to become the internet. Numerous packets sent to our PC are reconfigured to appear as e-mail messages.

 The internet communication network has numerous nodes where relay computers are connected and spread as an enormous net. A packet reaches this relay computer, which identifies the address attached and sends it off to each destination like a transmission game. The internet does all of this in a flash.

 When we make a phone call, we are physically connected to the person at the other end through a telephone cable. What makes the internet different from conventional telephones is that numerous packets sent by many different people can travel through the same line. This has allowed innovative utilization of the internet by people around the world simultaneously almost free of charge.

 Various mechanisms have been invented to make the internet even more convenient. The invention of the world-wide-web (www.) in 1990 allowed us to reach whichever PC or website throughout the world without difficulty. Other search engines like Yahoo and Google enabled us to do internet research easily and conveniently.

 The advancement and spread of the internet have brought two features that are making dramatic changes to the society today. Firstly, the internet allows people across the world to get connected in an instance almost for free. Secondly, the internet allows everyone in this world to have an equal chance to contribute to the knowledge-creating process. Let me give you some concrete examples.

 Social network or the SNS is flourishing today: 1) Facebook, first set up in 2004, has now 1.3 billion users per month, 2) there are 500 million tweets posted on the Twitter in just one day around the world, and 3) LINE is a free communication application for mobile phones, first developed right after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. Over 400 million people got registered in just 40 months and today, its subscribers has exceeded 500 million

 Now, let me give you some concrete examples of how people across the world participate freely and equally in knowledge creation. The internet encyclopedia Wikipedia which we find extremely convenient is made by 19 trillion people who volunteer to contribute articles on 33 million themes for free. Another example is the cloud sourcing, already in use by many major companies. It allows unspecified number of people to participate in the development of various products and services on the net. It is said to change the whole concept of a company. An auto development venture in the US, for example, got participation of 30,000 engineers and designers from around the world who engaged in the whole development process.

 The spread of SNS gives people of all ages a chance to get connected. A survey conducted in the US shows that SNS users aged over 65 years old doubled from 13% to 26% in 2009. Once we put ourselves into the world of knowledge, we feel liberated and find it comfortable to be surrounded by the pool of new knowledge. I am sure the internet will keep making dramatic changes and I hope each one of us will find the best way to enjoy such changes brought to the society.

Initiation Speech II
About IT

October 15, 2014

Mr. Susumu Okamoto
Executive Advisor, TIS Inc.

 I have the impression that most of the executive managers leave the IT business to the “specialists.” I find it disappointing because such hesitation has given the impression that Japan “fails to make strategic utilization of IT.” It is true that IT requires high-level expertise, but that should not keep you from asking your IT specialists to give convenient services that meet your needs. The majority of big companies have their own information system department where many hard-working staff members toil to upgrade the speed and accuracy of services. But I have to question if this is an innovation. It is just streamlining the office work or sophisticating the paperwork. Now, what leads to strategic IT utilization? I advise you in the top management to give some vague requests to your information system department, and not stick to clerical work.

 Let me focus on the three terms related to IT which we often come across these days: security, cloud and big data. There are two major issues concerning security. One is wiretapping, highlighted by the big scandal when the telephone calls of German Chancellor Merkel were found to have been wiretapped. Another is theft conducted by hackers who sneak into computers and steal the information. There is no impeccable system and therefore, we should check our system frequently and repair immediately if there are any problems.

 In Japan, cases of in-house information leakage outnumber hacker attacks. As Japanese people tend to believe human nature is fundamentally good, not a single organization has sufficient countermeasures against such internal crime. When a staff member decides to quit the company in Japan, they are allowed to use the PC up to the very last working day. I think it is about time to change it.

 Moving on to the next topic, cloud also exemplifies the characteristics of the Japanese people. Cloud literally means a cloud up in the sky. It is based on the principle that you cannot identify which system center provides the IT service that you are utilizing, because the center is in the clouds. The Japanese tend to feel uneasy because we want to check everything by ourselves. When the cloud was first introduced, it was estimated that about 20% of the whole would shift to this system. In Japan, however, the figure remains only a few percentage to date. There is even so-called private cloud which is practically a separate system, even when the computer centers reassure to be responsible for the security.

 The last term is a big data that compiles individual personal data to make research on the overall trend value. Again it has not been used widely, as people felt uneasy when they read an article in the media that said the data might be used to identify a particular individual. Today, all the data are collected and integrated into a data base. You cannot erase all your individual behavior records in this civilized society. We should avoid being oversensitive and try to cope well with this IT world.

 Before I close my speech, if your company has an information system department that undertakes the overall IT management, I advise you to dismiss it right away. I might sound radical but I believe if you want to make strategic utilization of IT, the top executive should take the lead in the discussions and instruct the ideal usage of IT.