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No. 1 (January 2021) Special Issue on NEC Value Chain Innovation

Vol. 15 No. 1 (January 2021)

Digitalization has gathered enourmous momentum in recent years and is transforming people's lives and values in a fundamental way. Businesses and industries, meanwhile, aspire to contribute to the resolution of increasingly complex social issues, all the while steering the way to the "new normal," which requires us to rethink our values and society as a whole. It is critical now more than ever to embrace the power of digital to not only survive but to thrive through the approaching challenges we are bound to face.

We believe the key to tackling this great challenge is to drive forward digital transformation. To accomplish this, we are engaged in a process that leverages our technologies and expertise honed over 121 years, our digital technologies, and co-creation with our customers to create new values that connect people, goods, and processes beyond enterprise and industry boundaries. This process that we call NEC Value Chain Innovation is being applied to the manufacturing, logistics, retail, services, and finance sectors, where we deliver value to our customers through the provision of our digital technologies, solutions, and services.

In this special issue, we introduce case studies showcasing the values produced by NEC Value Chain Innovation and discuss the digital technologies at the core of this process.

Special Issue on NEC Value Chain Innovation
― Shaping the Future of Organizations and Industries through Digital Transformation

Remarks for Special Issue on NEC Value Chain Innovation

SAKAI Kazuhiro
Executive Vice President

NEC Value Chain Innovation ― The Future Created by Digital Technology

TAKANO Masanori
General Manager, Digital Integration Division

Utilizing digital technologies across organizational and industrial boundaries

The Supply and Demand Optimization Platform: A Co-Creation Project in Value Chains That Reduces Food Losses

MORITA Ryouichi, YASUDA Kenichi

Every day around the world, vast amounts of edible food are tossed away, generating massive food losses. Worldwide, the amount of food lost or wasted each year adds up to a staggering 1.3 billion tons (metric tons), with Japan accounting for about 6.12 million tons. Food loss takes place at every step of the value chain—starting with production and processing and moving up through distribution, retail, and consumption. One of the main causes of food loss and waste is the mismatch between supply and demand. This paper examines NEC’s Supply and Demand Optimization Platform which has been created to help solve these pressing issues, thereby improving the productivity and efficiency of the food industry and minimizing the societal harm cause by massive food wastage.

Multi-Bank Identity Confirmation Platform — A New Way to Verify User Identity Using Digital Technology

KODAMA Naohiro, YAZAWA Kenichiro, SUZUKI Ryouichi

The rapid expansion of digital services in recent years has been accompanied by an increase in crimes such as identity theft and spoofing, making it urgent to establish more reliable identity confirmation methods and making them widely available. Thanks to revisions to business laws and progress in open application programming interfaces (open API), verified identity information accumulated by banks over the years can now be utilized by external entities. In this paper, we will examine the advanced information distribution platforms developed by NEC to help businesses and other organizations to utilize this data, providing both an overview and a more in-depth look at some of the platform’s technological aspects, including security functions to ensure secure data distribution, as well as its operability. We conclude by discussing the future prospects of this technology.

NEC I:Delight — Personalized Adventures Unified by Trust

KATO Hideto, KONISHI Koichi, ISSHIKI Toshiyuki

Among the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the acceleration of existing trends towards the digitalization of society. These trends have triggered a change in lifestyles, work styles, and business styles, precipitating a shift towards a broader and more widely used range of online services, while hastening the integration of real and digital worlds. New ways of managing identities while coping with the risk of personal information leaks, fraudulent use, and privacy invasion are needed. NEC has developed a concept called NEC I:Delight, which is designed to address the issues described above. This paper introduces this high-value concept and illustrates the new view of the world it represents and the NEC Digital ID solution we are developing to achieve that world.

Connected Manufacturing

Connected Manufacturing — Innovating Manufacturing by Integrating On-site Know-how and Digital Technology

KITANO Yoshinao, YOSHIMURA Makihiro

Challenges facing the contemporary manufacturing environment such as labor shortages, skills transfer, and mass customization are now being aggravated by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic―which is generating complex new problems including disruption of supply chains and restriction of movement of employees. NEC’s Connected Manufacturing integrates manufacturing sites and supply chains with the power of digital technology and is introducing innovation that transcends the boundaries between industries. This paper introduces the smart factory concept, which is an underlying theme of Connected Manufacturing. The idea of a smart factory is to build a system that leverages a wide range of data inputs to rapidly transform a production system into one that features high productivity and superior ability to respond to fluctuations, and also an environment where people can work comfortably and enthusiastically.

Smart Factory Enabled by Local 5G

FUCHIGAMI Hirotaka, KURODA Hiroshi

The business environment of the manufacturing industry is not only affected by various present changes including labor shortage, the handing over of skills to the next generation and mass-customization, but also by new issues that have surfaced due to the COVID-19 epidemic such as disruption of supply chains and restrictions on the movement of employees. The Smart Factory is a factory that is not only capable of dealing with the presently recognized challenges, but can also respond flexibly to unknown issues that may occur in the future. NEC is promoting the transformation of our factories into smart factories by combining our knowledge as both a manufacturing company and an IT vendor. At the same time, we provide the knowhow of smart factory construction to our customers by making best use of our expertise. This paper introduces the use of local 5G in smart factories.

Intelligent Logistics & Mobility

Intelligent Logistics and Mobility — Intelligent ICT to Optimize the Movement of People and Goods

KATO Manabu, MUTO Hiromi

Few modern industries are immune to the digital transformation (DX) engulfing the world today, and that includes the transportation industry that entails the movement of people (hereinafter referred to as transport) and the movement of goods (hereinafter referred to as logistics). In fact, these fields are poised to experience a momentous transformation as DX revolutionizes operations and technology. As in many fields, this transformation has been accelerated by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has compelled the world to transition to a “new normal” in which already extant trends have been pushed to the forefront. In this paper, we introduce representative case studies and technologies that illustrate NEC’s efforts to leverage its next-generation digital technology to connect the real world with cyberspace and merge logistics and mobility to assure the safe, smooth, and reliable movement of people and goods. We also discuss how NEC’s commitment to achieving these goals reflects its overall approach to realizing an abundant society in which everyone and every industry has equal access to services and opportunities.

Fast Travel: Using Face Recognition to Improve Airport Services with a View towards Wide scale Implementation

OTA Tomohide, ISHIHARA Kazuo, IWATA Atsushi, TORII Satoshi, HIRAMOTO Noriyuki , TAGAWA Risa

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is now promoting the Fast Travel program which offers passengers self-service options such as check-in and boarding using face recognition technology. Major airports around the world have already introduced pilot projects using this program. Also efforts are underway to adapt this technology to widespread use in various services not just at airports but also in town to achieve seamless and ticketless identification. This paper outlines NEC’s commitment to Fast Travel and introduces several case studies in Japan and elsewhere that highlight NEC I:Delight, a concept first proposed in 2019 whose objective is to achieve a truly seamless customer experience across a broad range of locations and services.

Public Transport Smart Card/Mobile Ticketing Solutions That Support Safe, Reliable Movement of People

NISHI Takahiro, HARADA Tomoyuki, OGURA Shin, KUROSAWA Kazuki, HAMANO Shinichi, IINO Yota

The total number of public transport smart cards issued in Japan now exceeds 150 million. With a usage rate of 98 percent in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the public transport smart card is definitely here to stay, an example of social infrastructure that meshes perfectly with people’s lifestyles. Turning our gaze overseas, we see opportunities to export Japanese technology are increasing at a rapid pace, spurred by rapid expansion in demand for new and upgraded infrastructure and IT systems in newly emerging economies. Ever since Suica was introduced, NEC has actively helped drive advances in public transport smart cards by adapting its powerful, proprietary ICT to the needs of public transportation. At the same time, we have been exporting our know-how overseas and successfully introduced these systems to many regions. In line with changes in lifestyle that now require contactless, non-face-to-face procedures while still assuring seamless movement of people from place to place, NEC continues to create next-generation solutions that integrate various technologies in mobile, biometrics, and more, to help achieve a world of abundance.

Reforming Railway Operations

SUDOU Akihisa, OGURA Shin, SATO Daichi, NAKAMURA Junya, KUBOSAWA Shumpei

The railway industry has recently begun to accelerate efforts to upgrade operations with AI and IoT which is frequently referred to as railway digital transformation or railway DX. This operational upgrade is an ideal candidate for the technology and other resources that NEC can bring to bear. Leveraging our extensive experience in adding new values to railway transportation and passenger services, together with our commitment to supporting maximum railway safety and lives of passengers, we are now systematizing our accumulated know-how to provide a foundation for further expansion in this field.

Optimized for the “New Normal,” NEC’s Intelligent Logistics Supports a Continuous Flow of Goods

UMEDA Yosuke, MUTO Hiromi

Ongoing labor shortages in Japan and increasingly complex supply chains have made it imperative to build optimal logistics systems and more efficiently utilize distribution resources. These efforts are complicated by the impact of COVID-19 which has disrupted supply chains, generated rapid changes in supply and demand, and forced employers to assure a safe working environment at distribution sites. To ensure effectiveness in the “new normal,” logistics operators must be able to maintain business continuity while also making substantial improvements in efficiency.
In this paper, we will look at these issues more closely and highlight some of the measures that could prove most helpful in dealing with them.

Vehicle Interior/Exterior Monitoring Solution for Safe Transportation of People and Goods

YANASE Kazuhiro, SHIOZAKI Masashi, MIZUKOSHI Yasuhiro, IWAI Takanori, NIHEI Koichi, NISHIMURA Shoji

Digital Transformation―or DX―has begun to have a significant impact on the mobility market, boosting connectivity, enhancing the sophistication and reliability of safe driving support systems, and rapidly bringing autonomous vehicles closer to real world operability, and much more. Amid this current trend, mobility service providers are faced with the challenge of using video-based driver assistance and appropriate measures to correct anomalies to ensure the safe and secure transportation of cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles. In this paper, we introduce the Vehicle Interior/Exterior Monitoring Solution that combines NEC’s real-time onboard camera video streaming technology and AI-based video analytics to enable remote and advanced driving support to ensure the safe and secure transportation of people and goods.

Smart Retail CX

NEC’s Vision of Retail and Smart Retail CX


The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a devastating impact on the struggling retail industry, precipitating massive changes in consumer purchase behavior and accelerating existing pre-pandemic trends which were already posing unprecedented challenges to the industry, including the relentless push towards economic globalization and the rapid progress of ICT. In the December 2015 issue of this journal, NEC proposed a new concept of consumer-led retail, or “Consumer-Centric Retailing” as a solution to many of the problems faced by retailers. We are now developing this concept under the brand communication tagline, “Smart Retail CX,” a platform we will use to deploy solutions to retailers. This paper introduces the concept of Smart Retail CX and how we plan to implement and develop this idea.

A Relaxed and Enjoyable Customer Experience, More Efficient Store Management — The Cashierless Future is Here

YAMASAKI Shinya, OZEKI Ai, SHIGA Mayumi, NAKAMURA Motoyuki, ISHII Kenichi, NOTOMI Narumitsu

The post-digital era poses far more challenges to retail businesses. As consumers demand more flexibility, more choice, and more convenience, retail businesses are scrambling to create a more relaxed and enjoyable customer experience (CX), while striving for greater efficiency by adopting labor-saving systems. NEC has committed tremendous resources to creating the labor-saving and store management systems required to power next-generation stores. To this end, we built our own cashierless store in 2019 at the NEC headquarters building. Still in operation today, this store is a showcase for NEC’s advanced retail technologies. NEC has succeeded in this project by combining the world’s number one face recognition technology and sensing technology based on sales management and customer management technologies we had already developed for various customers. This paper describes NEC’s conception of what such a store should look like, how it should function, and how it should feel to the customer. We also look at new ways to utilize the data collected from the systems used in these stores.

OMO Solutions that Provide a Unique Shopping Experience for Only Now, Only Here and Only Me


In the post-digital era where the progress of ICT has created an environment in which the offline contact points for consumers in real-world stores and their purchase behaviors are always connected to online, the worlds of online and offline are integrated and are considered as a single entity. This is the concept of Online Merges with Offline (OMO). OMO is considered a strategy and competitive mechanism in the e-commerce market. In the OMO era, it is necessary to connect a wide range of data with one another regardless of whether they are online or offline, and then visualize them in order to integrate them under a single control. This will result in having a faster experience cycle. This paper describes the reasons for and details about OMO that are attracting people’s attention these days. Also, this paper discusses how related systems should be advanced in the OMO era and NEC’s approach to solutions.

Digital Store Platform, an Information System Platform for Smart Retail CX

IWAO Tomohiro, NAKAJIMA Ken, ISHIDA Hitomi

NEC Corporation enables the retail industry to integrate and manage disparate data from which to identify behavioral tendencies and situational factors that can be used to make smart, timely suggestions to shoppers. In addition, we also provide attractive shopping experiences tailored to each shopper in both an online and offline context. These services are made possible with Digital Store Platform, a retail domain-oriented platform capable of providing information from disparate data in real time no matter where the data is stored. With this platform that provides a prompt and low-cost means to respond to ever-changing customer needs, we aim to contribute to the development of the retail industry.

Smart VenueCX

Smart VenueCX — Linking Inspiring Spaces to Deepen Bonds between People, Communities and Societies


The rapid increase of inbound visitors to Japan has increased demand in the service industry such as hotels, theme parks and live entertainment, but the shortage of labor has posed issues that need to be addressed, including reducing burden on frontline operations. More recently, the emergence of COVID-19 has created an economic shock for the service industry. In order to enable business continuity during these times of uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, it is necessary to reduce the operating burdens of service providers and improve the value of user experiences by preparing safe, secure environments. Our Smart VenueCX links together inspiring spaces with the best use of digital technologies. This paper introduces the world envisioned by Smart VenueCX, and outlines its main businesses.

Elevating Customer Experience with Comfortable, Touchless Services


The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a devastating impact on people from every walk of life and has dramatically changed how people live and the way businesses are running. Hotels and other venues in the service industry are facing enormous challenges with demand plummeting as a result of the current crisis. Faced with the challenge of establishing a business management system that is not only efficient but also ensures safety and security, many in the industry are turning to technology that enables quick, accurate and contact-free identity verification. These are the very elements that NEC’s face recognition technology has the ability to deliver. This paper discusses the introduction of NEC’s face recognition solutions at hotels and other venues and outlines future prospects for creating seamless journeys through the use of the face as a common ID.

NEC’s Solutions for Venues in the New Normal Era

HOSHI Kazufumi, ARIYOSHI Masayuki, MIYAWAKI Seigo, NABETANI Tsubasa, NAKANO Gaku

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is unprecedented in recent history. That impact has been especially severe for venues that attract mass gatherings, such as at sports events and concerts. Although remote viewing is becoming increasingly popular, there is still great demand for the shared feeling and crowds that can be experienced through physical viewings. In this paper, we will discuss various solutions now under development at NEC, which are intended to make it possible for people to visit these venues in person and enjoy their experience safely and securely in the new normal era. Those solutions include touchless, walk-through security check, entry confirmation and on-site monitoring of visitors, enhanced on-site entertainment using smartphone apps, visitor density visualization to avoid overcrowding, and social distancing measurement technology to confirm that visitors are maintaining a safe distance between one another.

Digital Finance

Approach to Digital Finance in DX Era

WATANABE Mitsuhiro

Under the dizzying changes in the business environment, what can NEC Corporation do in collaboration with financial institutions? This paper describes the offerings of NEC Corporation based on a common understanding of the environment surrounding financial institutions and the potential of finance in the future world while examining the relationship with the digital government.

NEC’s Online Personal Identification Service Accelerates Innovations Toward New Normal Era

SHIMIZU Tomohisa, MIYAKAWA Koichi, OOISHI Masaaki, TORIYAMA Shinichi, ARAI Michiko, HORIUCHI Kumiko

In an unprecedented situation of the spread of COVID-19, various business types, business forms and services are being forced to change toward the New Normal. After the amendment entitled the Ordinance for Enforcement of the Japanese Act on Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds on Nov. 30, 2018, that would permit nonface-to-face personal identification, NEC Corporation began to provide an identification service making use of noncontact face recognition technology in 2019. It is expected that the use of digital technology would advance rapidly and the online identification service would play an important role in the world under/post COVID-19. This paper is intended to introduce the technology for implementing an online personal identification service matching the New Normal era and the enhancement of anti-impersonation measures.

Measures Required for the Banking System in the Digital Era


Today’s rapid pace of digital transformation (DX) is greatly impacting the banking sector, including banks that handle financial services, consumers who receive these services, and also the banking system itself that serves as the point of interaction between banks and consumers. This paper looks back at past changes in the Japanese banking system and discusses the requirements for the banking system in the future to deal with competition by responding to changing customer needs using the approach taken by NEC Corporation.

AI-Based Fraud and Risk Detection Service Ensures Transparency While Improving Operational Efficiency and Performance


Artificial intelligence is having a growing influence on the way modern society functions. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly vital for more fairness, transparency, and accountability with respect to the decisions made by AI. With our Heterogeneous Mixture Learning technology, which is what we call explainable artificial intelligence, or XAI, NEC has succeeded in ensuring these three requirements. As an example of effective utilization of XAI, this paper outlines NEC’s AI-based fraud and risk detection service, which supports fraud risk analysis at financial institutions. We also describe the component technologies that form the basis for this service.

Paving the Way to the Future with Digital Utilization

IWATA Daichi
Director, Digital Integration Division

Having witnessed the measures taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a harsh reality has become clear to me. For all its advanced technology, Japan is digitally backwards. I am convinced that effective utilization of digital technology―both to slow the spread of infection and to bring about a high-quality future―is something that is desperately needed right now. What is required for digital implementation is to think outside the box―to come up with ideas that are not inherent to the conventional economical and industrial framework.

General Papers

Development of Neoantigen — Targeted Cancer Vaccine Therapy

YAMASHITA Yoshiko, ONOUE Kousuke, TANAKA Yuki, MALONE Brandon

Cancer immunotherapy is expected to be the fourth cancer therapy after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Under this trend, NEC Corporation realizes that the mutation of cancer varies depending on individual patients and has thus proceeded to develop vaccine therapies targeting the tumor-specific antigens (hereinafter “neoantigens”) of each patient as cases of individualized medicine. This paper introduces the technique for identifying the neoantigen that can induce the strongest immune response of each patient based on effective use of genome analysis and AI technologies. Clinical trials of an individualized cancer immunotherapy using the technique introduced here have already been started.

NEC Information

2019 C&C Prize Ceremony