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Fujitsu Labs outlines 'monozukuri' innovation quest

Posted: 06 Jun 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:monozukuri  Fujitsu  open-source  cloud 

"Monozukuri innovation" within the context of a collaborative economy and hyper-connected world was the centerpiece of Fujitsu Laboratories of America Technology's eighth annual symposium themed "The Changing Landscape of Innovation: Open, Shared, and Democratized."

The transformation of the innovation process was coined monozukuri innovation, and described as Fujitsu's pursuit to use technology for society through human-centric innovation by keynote speaker Hideyuki Saso, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. president, and panelist Tomohiro Fujiwara, Fujitsu FSAS GM.

In other words, monozukuri, a Japanese manufacturing term that translates vaguely into craftsmanship and integrated manufacturing processes, gets an open-source and big-data update.

Fujiwara's account of Fujitsu's crowdsourcing as an internal innovation management tool within parameters of lifetime employment was in striking contrast with the plug-and-play sourcing models presented by fellow panelists Matt Cooper of oDesk and John Hoskins of Amazon Mechanical Turk. Crowdsourcing is synonymous with cloud-labour, a consumption model described by Cooper and Hoskins as allowing businesses to keep freelance and contract labour on standby via online technology.

Fujitsu event

8th annual Fujitsu Labs event.

By and large, panelists described open-source software as the engine behind the paradigm shift from traditional business models. Law professor Deven Desai of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego pointed out innovation over the last 30 years has been in digitisation of things, and now the most interesting aspect is that of networking. "The new big players are the ones who will be providing infrastructure," said Desai.

Desai's fellow panelist, Doug Cutting of Cloudera, said it's hard to find an industry that's not adopting digital technology. There are two concurrent revolutions, according to Cutting, the open-source revolution and the data revolution. Both are becoming mandates, using open-source software and harnessing the data. Responding to a question about intellectual property rights, Cutting claimed that patents in software are a "minefield you have to ignore and hope you don't step on one. Software patents stifle innovation, are of no value, and help no one."

Fujitsu event

Panel on crowd vs. cloud at Fujitsu Lab's 8th annual event.

One panel discussion focused entirely on open-source software development and featured panelists from Mozilla, Linux Foundation, and Facebook, who all described how their companies share commodity research-and-development. All the best companies master external R&D, noted Jim Zemlin of The Linux Foundation, even Apple. They will not get to market fast enough unless they use open-source software. "But it takes time to make open-source part of the corporate culture," he said. "To make people understand what is allowed and what is not, both outside and inside the company."

Keynote speaker Mark Hatch, author of the book Make Movement Manifesto and CEO of TechShop, a fabrication and prototyping studio, hackerspace, and learning centre in eight locations across the United States, gave examples of possibilities of radical and speedy changes in innovation: "We can innovate for free. The creative class has time on their hands and money to spend. We need to get them to watch less television and start making things." Hatch also told several stories of accidental but successful entrepreneurs.

The future of manufacturing is more somber, with the road from prototype to production harder than most people think, according to Dr. Winnie Yu, director of development at Flextronics, whereas Patrick Dunne of 3D Systems praised developments in 3D printing that provide yet another view into open and shared innovation.

- Magnus Thordarson
  EE Times





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