The NTT Group consists of many companies, as shown below. The group employs more than 240,000 people, and its total revenue was greater than $110B at the end of March 2015.
(Source NTT Group Home page)
Among these companies, NTT DoCoMo is well known in the US, but NTT Communications and NTT Data are large entities as well and as influential as DoCoMo. By the way, NTT America is a subsidiary of NTT Communications in the US. NTT East and NTT West provide domestic services in Japan.
Many of the research results come from the NTT Basic Research Laboratories (hereinafter, NTT Research). NTT Research consists of five research organizations, including the one in Musashino where I visited a few times before. In addition, DoCoMo has its own research laboratory. NTT Research belongs to the NTT holding company. NTT Research conducts research on behalf of other companies under the holding company in exchange for research funds received from them.
In this blog, I cover the AI developments at NTT DoCoMo, NTT Data, and NTT Communications, which exploit the research results from NTT Research for their respective areas of business.
A virtual assistant is available on DoCoMo phones and is similar to Siri in functions on iPhones. It is called Talking Concier.
According to its press release (only available in Japanese), it established the AI Solutions Promotion Office October 1, 2015. NTT Data took the results of NTT Research’s AI work and integrated them with its platform (called information application knowhow). It is targeted to support front and middle office assistants in communications with consumers and the public sector through the use of humanoid robots and the development of a wide range of systems and services utilizing AI.
They are staffing this office with 20 AI specialists and will gradually increase the number of people. With this office, NTT Data expects more than 20B yen of business (roughly $200M).
At this point, there is no detailed information available, other than this press release.
In collaboration with IPsoft, NTT Communications (hereinafter, NTT-C) plans to develop Virtual Assistant (hereinafter, code name, VA). It plans to make it available in summer of 2016. It solicits companies that agree to participate in proof of concept (POC) trials in February 2016.
IPsoft’s platform is used by several clients, including Cisco, Accenture, and Infosys, as well as by NTT-C. In the February/March issue of his newsletter, StormWatch, Dr. Adrian Bowles, founder of Storm Insights, pointed out that IPsoft’s significant deal with Accenture should drive the growth of its Amelia in the US. It remains to be seen whether NTT-C can do the same for the Japanese market with IPsoft’s Amelia.
The following diagram depicts how their virtual assistant works.
Source: NTT Communications Press Release
NTT subsidiary companies have started to work on artificial intelligence products and services by exploiting the research results available from NTT Research.
At this point, virtual assistants with text and voice interaction appear to be prevalent, as other companies like IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon find them an easy entry point to productize artificial intelligence technologies.