What’s on the Radar Screen of an International ICT Company?

Fujitsu has been one of the most successful companies in Japan, and it also has operations worldwide, including North America. The revenue distribution is Japan, $36.1B (61.8%); EMEA, $9.9B (17.9%); APAC/China, $5B (15.6%); and the Americas, $3.5B (4.6%), for a total of $54.5B worldwide. Because I cover the intersection between ICT and energy, I wanted to find out what they are thinking of in terms of applying ICT to sustainability. Incidentally, Fujitsu recently held its sixth annual conference, Fujitsu North America Technology Forum 2013, at the Computer History Museum.

Fujitsu hosted the conference, and attendance was free and included breakfast, lunch, and cocktails. Over the years, the number of attendees has grown, and ICT analysts, such as Gartner and IDC, were in the crowd. On top of that, they got very prominent speakers, like Dr. John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, and Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab. It is a good deal, to say the least

The following is my take on what was presented.

Fujitsu develops products over a wide range of areas, including hardware and software, as well as services.

Fujitsu covers many areas, as shown in the picture above. Many Japanese companies are considered good at hardware but not software. But Fujitsu actually does pretty well in the areas of software and services as well as hardware. Because they put their foot in many areas and their base is ICT, it is very interesting to see how they view the current state of ICT. ICT used to stand by itself without much regard to other areas, like energy. In the past, ICT technologies alone could generate revenues. But things have changed a lot recently, and ICT needs to find other application areas. O.K., the following is how Fujitsu sees the world in conjunction with ICT.

This picture shows that ICT could be applied to areas like food/water, economy, energy, population/aging, health, natural disasters, and transportation. Cloud computing would tie them all together. If they are right about this, there are still a lot of application opportunities for ICT to generate revenues, which is good news to many people in the ICT field, including myself.

Following the first keynote on Fujitsu’s business, Stanford’s Hennessy gave a talk and there were three presentations by Fujitsu people. I covered Hennessy’s presentation in a previous blog. The Fujitsu presentations were categorized as future solutions for smart energy deployments, which is very relevant to what I look at these days. Along with these three technologies, a total of 23 technologies were demoed. First, let me touch on the three presentations

Energy management system (EMS)

The first was about Fujitsu’s energy management system (EMS). In 2011, electricity saving by visualization was implemented to cope with the power shortage after the big quake and the shutdown of the 50 nuclear plants in Japan. From 2012 to 2013, Fujitsu developed a cloud-based building energy management system (BEMS). From 2013 to 2015, it plans to move its focus to smart city. An example of that is to cut power consumption by observing peak times and by controlling battery charging and discharging of laptops at offices. Their experiment showed that they could reduce total office power consumption by 2–3% by doing this. In most building energy management systems, attention is usually given to high-power consumers like HVACs. It is very Japanese to even pay attention to laptop battery charging. But who knows? Small savings may add up to a big saving.

OpenADR

The second was Fujitsu’s implementation of OpenADR.


Overview of OpenADR

Fujitsu was the first Japanese company to participate in the OpenADR 2.0a interoperability test. Demand and response (DR) is one of the easiest ways—by shaving off power at peak time—to generate logical power. Usually, when demand increases, supply must be increased to cope with the higher demand. Instead, demand is curtailed to fit the supply at a given time. In a way, logical power was generated to solve the demand-and-supply imbalance. OpenADR is a protocol specified by the OpenADR Alliance to dictate in what form the DR signal is transmitted. The member companies are listed here. I chatted with a person who was manning the booth. Their product is a demand response automation server (DRAS) paired with a client. Because OpenADR is a protocol specification, each vendor could build their products based on the standard communications protocol for competition. Fujitsu’s involvement is basically in the US; Japanese utilities are not ready to consider DR.

Efficient power supply

The third Fujitsu presentation was about the power supply, which has a conversion rate of 94.8%. An organization called 80 Plus promotes a high conversion rate for the power supply. Even with 80 Plus Platinum, however, the conversion rate is only 90%. Fujitsu developed a few technologies to increase efficiency. Fujitsu plans to release a product with this technology in 2014.

I had to be elsewhere so missed the subsequent sessions. I think ICT has a lot of potential in many areas. Energy is one, and Fujitsu seems to understand it very well.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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