Creating a new platform business with visualization technologies at the core
By combining state-of-the-art IoT and AI technologies with the imaging technologies we have refined over our long history, we are taking aim at changing ourselves into a service provider that excels in data utilization supported by imaging technologies. “Imaging IoT technologies” is the collective term we have given to these core technologies, and the “imaging IoT platform” is the entire environment surrounding business centered on imaging IoT technologies.
The imaging IoT platform is a vehicle for providing services that facilitate better workflows in wide-ranging workplaces such as production, healthcare, and caregiving, and visualization is the driving concept behind it. Image data is captured from a Konica Minolta measuring instrument, sensor, or other input devices. Then, based on the data, we add in our own processing, visualizing the previously invisible. This can create customer value in many ways. For example, we can automatically ascertain a person’s physical condition, discover invisible gas leaks, and automatically detect the position and number of cells in a pathological exam. Our efforts to create ever higher added-value services by utilizing accumulated data is what we believe will lead to high-profit data services enabled by imaging IoT technologies.
Konica Minolta’s imaging IoT platform business
Creating new businesses by evolving imaging IoT technologies
The rapid advance of AI technologies in recent years has seen many companies, including IT giants, focusing on development. Konica Minolta has established three areas of unrivaled competitiveness—human behavior, advanced medicine, and product testing—and have built an environment specialized in these areas and focused on developing unique AI algorithms. We also have strengths in imaging IoT technologies, one of which is our capabilities for developing image input devices, which we have honed through our imaging business, as well as our embedded AI technologies , which we have developed through our MFP development and which process AI algorithms at high-speed.
Our efforts to improve with regard to such technology development have seen us rise to the top echelon globally when it comes to image recognition technologies that enable faster, more precise human behavior recognition and object detection. Going forward, we believe that even the partner companies with which we collaborate will view us as possessing a level of technology that provides ample Konica Minolta value.
During the period of the previous medium-term business plan, SHINKA 2019, we used these technologies to build new functions that include the Intelligent Quality Optimizer Unit IQ-501, an automated color and registration adjustment for digital printers, along with new businesses such as the HitomeQ Care Support services for caregiving facilities and our gas monitoring solution service for plants. At the same time, we finished building a foundation for conducting a full-scale rollout of imaging IoT businesses, which included an ecosystem with a partner company and a service payment system.
Furthering collaboration with partner companies
in order to grow the imaging IoT business
The further expansion of our imaging IoT business will be a major theme over the three-year period of the next medium-term business strategy, DX2022. We are now considering what new service model to adopt—whether to provide customers with applications from our partner companies over a platform, generate new value by sharing data accumulated on the platform with partner companies, or create service packages and provide them to a wide range of customers. We plan to expand our business by providing prepared technologies together with a platform environment.
Expanding our imaging IoT business in such a way will require combining a variety of technologies, so we will be ramping up collaboration with partner companies. Along with completing a new development annex at our Takatsuki Site in Osaka, in August 2020 we also established an R&D facility in North America (Canada) and commenced joint research into advanced AI technologies with a university.
We will bring together imaging IoT development functions and talent at these sites, where they will advance open innovation with partner companies.
Since an IoT business cannot succeed through the efforts of one company alone, few have achieved success anywhere in the world. It is amid these circumstances that Konica Minolta, with its strength in imaging IoT and a customer base of two million companies, will build an open platform for partner companies to use. Then, as a result of friendly competition between these companies, we will provide high-value services that put the customer first. We will be the first in the world to create such an environment.
Increasing imaging IoT and AI talent to 1,000 people
In preparation for a future business portfolio transformation, Konica Minolta has spent nearly the last 10 years focused on developing imaging AI engineers, data scientists, and system architects, among others, to build businesses centered on developing imaging IoT technologies. Additionally, as in-house training programs, we have also established skill level-specific certification and registration programs for three levels: “entry,”“standard,” and “expert.”
We currently have close to 500 imaging IoT and AI talent, including outside hires. Further increasing the number of internally-developed personnel will give us an advantage both in terms of speed and development skill, and will also be advantageous in our collaborations with partner companies.
To this end, we aim to double our talent pool to 1,000 people over the period of DX2022. As part of this effort, and in order to grow our IoT-related business in the future, we want to increase our number of data engineers, who solve problems primarily using data analysis, and the product engineers that build applications and services packages. More and more of these people have been working with sales staff around the world as experts, helping to cement business deals.Developing engineers like this who can create services and expand our business will be a focus going forward.
In the future, we will use our imaging IoT development facilities in Europe and newly-built R&D facilities in Japan and North America as bases for fortifying our talent as we accelerate efforts to cultivate and recruit people for imaging IoT business in our three business regions of Japan, the U.S., and Europe.