Driving technological innovation

Ms Nina Simosko, the chief executive officer of NTT Innovation Institute Inc. (NTT i³), explains how the company stays ahead of the curve

Every company likes talking about innovation, and in line with that, disruption, but few organisations embrace both better than the Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT) Group.

To better serve its customers, NTT set up the NTT Innovation Institute Inc., also known as NTT i³, which focuses on fostering strategic innovation. 

Novel approach

Based in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, the company works with established enterprise companies looking to adopt new and evolving approaches into technology-first and digitally driven businesses.

NTT i³ also partners with early-stage digitally native businesses to expand their presence and differentiate them in the marketplace.

The innovation of NTT i³ has led to breakthroughs in networking, healthcare, sports, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning sectors, as well as the automotive industry and agriculture.

This ensures that NTT Communications offers the most cutting-edge solutions for their customers.

To learn more about this unique approach to technology innovation, we managed to speak to Ms Nina Simosko. The chief executive officer of NTT i³ was in the middle of a whirlwind schedule — meeting partners in Japan, Orlando and Johannesburg.

Developing disruptive solutions

 A challenge for any organisation who wants to innovate is knowing where the focus should be.

Ms Simosko says: “We focus heavily on automotive, healthcare, fintech and sports sectors, and a little bit on agriculture.

“I've really defined this huge scope to specific verticals, otherwise it could get completely unwieldly. I say ‘no’ a lot.”

One of NTT’s many innovative products is Hitoe, a material that can be incorporated into clothing to measure biomedical signals such as a person’s heartbeat muscle activity.

NTT i³ has also developed data analytics algorithms to leverage its data sets and incorporate the fabric in sports and healthcare applications. In fact, the F1 McLaren Honda team is already using it to monitor a driver’s condition.

Other NTT i³ innovations include agricultural solutions that enable farms to better visualise and manage their agricultural businesses through automation and the IoT. The company is also working with fintech and various blockchain applications.

Says Ms Simosko: “Our work on blockchain is actually leveraging some of our cloud and edge computing solutions. Sometimes, our work may seem unrelated, but it is.”

Seamless integration

The company’s latest invention is the CloudWAN solution, which combines both software-defined Wide Area Network technology (SD-WAN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) into one environment to enable enterprise customers to deliver advanced services.

Ms Simosko says: “Many SD-WAN products are sold separately, so integrating these components into one operable system is a big issue to many customers. 

“With CloudWAN, customers can have one multi-purpose platform without being annoyed with the integration issues. So we have a multi-tenant product, unlike many of our competitors.”

Such innovations are enabling NTT’s operating companies to improve its customers’ digital transformation strategies.

For example, NTT Communications has incorporated similar technology, which it offers as part of its “Software Defined Everything + Management” solution (SDx+M).

Customised solutions

While technology solutions like SD-WAN faciliate digital transformation, enterprises also need to be able to visualise and manage their entire ICT systems for productive operations.

Says Ms Simosko: “The world is not homogenous, so it's critical for our regional companies like NTT Communications to provide regionally tailored services for their customers.

“Similarly, NTT Group needs to deliver globally competitive solutions. This innovative approach differentiates us from other IT players.”

She adds: “Our latest software defined networking product is extremely disruptive.

“But if we don't disrupt ourselves, someone else will, and it’s better that we do it rather than some random start-up or major competitor.”

Indeed, this capability and freedom to innovate has made NTT i³ and its operating companies, including NTT Communications, leading global ICT solution providers.

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This article was reproduced from CIO Asia with rights and sponsored by NTT Communications.