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NEC's exclusive online event

Special English sessions over a two-day period welcoming key partners to discuss the future, issues and the resolutions.

Highlighting the Societal & Industrial Transformation Under the Theme of "Seize the Future Together"

2021 has continued to prove to be another challenging year amidst the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, although fortunately there are some indications that the global economy is moving towards a recovery. The World Bank believes that global GDP growth will expand to 5.6% in 20211, which marks an end to the global recession. This growth, however, will be uneven among countries, industries, and demographic segments and many underlying social issues have been exacerbated.

The global recession has led to many organizations to rethink their Digital Transformation strategy as a key tool to build more robust businesses that also addresses positive impact to society in a post-pandemic world. The realization of a society where everyone can fulfill their humanity, and the creation of environmental, social, and economic value with stakeholders are core tenets of NEC, which believes it is important to hold forums to bring these stakeholders together to discuss how to achieve this shared vision.

As such, NEC Visionary Week 2021 was held from September 16th to September 17th to facilitate discussions on these topics which featured multiple sessions under the theme of "Seize the Future Together". NEC President and CEO Takayuki Morita inaugurated the event, followed by distinguished speakers who spoke on the following key themes:


Digital Innovation as a Driver of Social Change

Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, recently stated that, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reversal of Sustainable Development Goal progress in some areas including a "deeply negative impact" on health and well-being; employment, businesses, incomes, education; and human rights.2

This has in turn led to an increasingly important role for governments, international organizations such as NPOs/NGOs, and private companies to play in society including the efficient distribution of vaccines and other essential goods and services. For this reason, there is now a considerably elevated need for enhanced cooperation among the public and private sectors.

NEC Visionary Week 2021 featured a session dedicated to increasing cooperation among these organizations. "The power of digital: Driving healthcare access in developing countries" featured NEC Chairman Dr. Nobuhiro Endo, Mihoko Kashiwakura, Head of East Asia Relations for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and Dr. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General for Division of Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact at the World Health Organization, who discussed how new technologies can be leveraged by organizations to drive social change.

Reimagining the Future of Air Travel

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 2020 was the worst year on record for the aviation industry as international air passenger volumes fell by nearly 76%.3 As global travel gradually returns to normal, it is critical for the aviation industry to deliver a safe and seamless customer experience. Through a single digital identity, NEC I:Delight 4 enables a hygienic and seamless travel experience that can benefit everyone, from travelers to airport staff.

Star Alliance, through its Star Alliance Biometrics app, has made this solution available in Frankfurt and Munich Airports. Similarly, Narita Airport has also deployed Face Express, powered by NEC, to make boarding more seamless for its passengers. In the future, such solutions will become more pervasive, and allow travelers to connect their experience to off-Airport services such as hotels, theme parks and car rentals.

Learn more about Star Alliance and NEC's partnership in the session, "TAKING FLIGHT AGAIN - How Digital Transformation is Elevating the Air Travel Customer Experience -." This session featured speakers including Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, Hideharu Miyamoto, Executive Director of Narita International Airport Corporation, Norihiko Ishiguro, Senior Executive Vice President at NEC and were moderated by Jason Van Sice, Vice President of NEC Corporation of America.

The Future of Wealth Management & Wealth Democratization

The global banking and finance industry is yet another sector that is undergoing rapid transformation due to several recent socioeconomic shifts. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how interconnected the global economy has become, and this in turn has created a need for investors to rethink their investment strategies in order to minimize risk and maximize returns. The global distribution of wealth is also shifting, as the youth population in many emerging markets such as Indonesia, India, Nigeria and Brazil have increasing levels of disposable income and require digital-friendly wealth management options. Technology itself is also rapidly evolving as cloud computing is now ubiquitous and blockchain technology now offers transparent and secure tokenized solutions for consumers and enterprises. There is also momentum in the market towards achieving "wealth democratization" by enabling more people to invest in both traditional and non-traditional investments using new technologies. This has led to leading financial services software suppliers such as Avaloq to create new services that are transforming the wealth management sector and these opportunities were discussed at NEC Visionary Week 2021.

The session "The Wealth Management Industry: Overcoming today's challenges, and preparing for tomorrow" discussed how new technologies are transforming the wealth management sector and featured Martin Greweldinger, Co-CEO and Group Chief Product Officer at Avaloq, Manoj Bhojwani, Chief Information Officer for Private Banking & Wealth at HSBC, Tomoki Kubo, the Head of the Digital Finance Business at NEC and was moderated by Yuka Tanimoto, Managing Editor of the Forbes JAPAN Web Editorial Team.

Technologies Driving a New Era of Space Exploration

The global space exploration industry is undergoing a renaissance as services such as commercial space travel, increased use of low-orbit satellites for communications and even the future colonization of nearby planets and asteroids have all gained increased enthusiasm in recent years. However, in order to make future space exploration both safe and economically feasible new technologies, such as AI, will need to be incorporated in the manufacturing process as well as on-board spacecraft mission operations.

To address transformation in the manufacturing process, AI integration is already well underway. For example, Lockheed Martin is using NEC's System Invariant Analysis Technology (SIAT) embedded in their T-TAURI AI platform to monitor data from 150,000 sensors on NASA's Orion spacecraft.5 The Orion spacecraft with return humans to the moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

The "AI-supported Development Spacecraft -Transforming Satellite Production& Deep space exploration-" panel discussed how AI is playing an important role in developing next-generation space exploration spacecraft and ultimately support astronauts and overall mission safety in the future. This panel featured Kevin Woodward, Senior Manager for AI/Machine Learning at Lockheed Martin Space, Dr. Steve Jolly, Chief Engineer for the Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space, Moto Sato, Director of Business Development at NEC Laboratories of America, and Merwin Mathew, Director of Operations Data Analytics and AI at NEC Corporation of America.

Safe City Resilience Amidst COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic caught many local governments off guard as there was a massive sudden need for ICT solutions to enable teleworking, e-learning, remote medicine and a variety of other solutions. Now that these solutions are largely in-place, many governments are now shifting their focus to deploying resilient safe city infrastructure that will prevent major disruptions when future problems arise. One key trend arising in the market is that safe city infrastructure needs to facilitate communication across different organizations to coordinate emergency response efforts. Safe city planning solutions are now not only available to wealthy cities, as tools to measure metrics such as traffic flow, pedestrian activity and pollution are now generally affordable for all cities. Initiative such as basic cybersecurity measures and grassroots activism are also examples of low-cost measures that any city can take.

Future-proofing smart city was the key theme of one of the sessions at NEC Visionary Week 2021. "Safe Cities: Future-proofing for tomorrow and beyond" discussed recent challenges and opportunities facing safe city operators and shared highlights from the most recent Safe Cities Index. Safe Cities Index now in its fourth iteration, ranks 60 cities across 57 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security, personal security and environmental security. This session moderated by Naka Kondo, Senior Editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit featured Esteban Leon, Head of City Resilience Global Programme at UN-Habitat and Professor Nicola Tollin, Urban Resilience at University of Southern Denmark in conversation with Hans Jayatissa, Chief Technology Officer at KMD, the company supporting the infrastructure of Danish cities, and Pratima Singh, Senior Consultant at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

5G Innovation Driven by Open Networks & New Partnerships

5G is quickly shifting to the mainstream, and as of Q1 2021 there were over 400 million global 5G subscribers according to the Global mobile Suppliers Association.7 CSPs need to be strategic in the long run when deploying 5G technology, and hence there has been an increased focus on 5G Open Architecture, which is being embraced by global telcos.

NEC Visionary Week 2021 featured a thought leadership session called, "NTT and NEC's view about the future of advanced network and the world surrounding it" that included an update on open architecture initiatives and the development of Beyond 5G and IOWN technology. This session featured Akira Shimada, Senior Executive Vice President & CFO at NTT, Takayuki Morita, President and CEO at NEC and was moderated by Kenji Nonaka, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company.

There was also a session called, "Open 5G Networks: Are we on the slope of enlightenment?" where NTT DOCOMO, Vodafone and NEC discussed industry trends, the future of mobile networks, and promising opportunities open networks bring to life with the advent of 5G. Leading mobile operators such as NTT DOCOMO and Vodafone are very active in the Open RAN space. NTT DOCOMO has pioneered interoperability standards which are making open networks a reality, and has recently formed a "5G Open RAN Ecosystem" with NEC and other partners to promote its vision of future networks.8 Vodafone recently named NEC as a key 5G partner for its 2,500 site initial Open RAN commercial deployment in the UK,.9 This session featured Santiago Tenorio, Group Head of Network Architecture at Vodafone Group, Naoki Tani, Executive Vice President, CTO, Executive General Manager of R&D Innovation Division at NTT DOCOMO, Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President/ President of Network Services Business Unit at NEC, Nozomu Watanabe, Senior Vice President at NEC and Patrick Lopez, VP of Product Management, 5G Products at NEC.

2021 has been a difficult year for many around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, and as we look towards a recovery the theme of Digital Transformation has been brought to the forefront of a variety of industries including healthcare, aviation, safe cities and even space exploration. NEC Visionary Week 2021 seeks to serve as a platform for all types of organizations to meet and discuss new and innovative ways of collaboration under the theme of "Seize the Future Together".

Come join us and learn about how we can seize the future together, and cocreate a brighter world!