NTT Data Connected by Ecosystem: Social Transformation via AI Solution [AI inside x Innovators #1]
AI inside provides a platform with the mission of bringing AI to people and things to contribute to a richer future society. While our company developed as an AI platform, the presence of innovators who continued to incorporate AI into society was indispensable. Working toward publicizing the future that the innovators and our company envision, we have started this “AI inside x Innovators” series.
For this first article, Abe, the head of the partner growth at AI inside, interviewed Senior Manager Kazuhiko Mori, Manager Shunya Tachibana, and Kiyoto Oshio of Solution Innovation Division, RPA Solution Group regarding AI activities and strategies toward resolving societal issues portrayed by NTT Data Corporation (hereafter, NTT Data).
RPA and AI-OCR Solutions spread with Ecosystem
Social Innovation Division, RPA Solution Group, Senior Manager,
Mr. Kazuhiko Mori
Abe, AI inside (hereafter, Abe): To begin, may I ask about your department’s mission, services, and solutions?
Mr. Mori: NTT Data develops systems for clients and deploys their own network services. By solidifying our system integration (SI) combining business expertise and various technologies, we are aiming to be in the top five global IT service companies in 2025.
We, Solution Innovation Division, RPA Solution Group, support the digital transformation (DX) of our clients by combining the solutions and expertise of the RPA tool “WinActor” with the largest domestic share and those of our partners.
Abe: Could you share the story of your connection with our company and your projects until this point again?
Mr. Tachibana: Actually, we have been providing systems using OCR (Prexifort-OCR) mainly to municipalities, government offices, and financial institutions for 50 years. Previous OCR systems could recognize characters at high speeds and precision in set formats but had issues with precision in recognizing free-format handwritten characters. A few years ago, when it first gradually entered the market, AI-OCR still had low recognition precision and reading speed and was not in practical use.
One day, AI inside showed us a demo of the “DX Suite,” and we were truly impressed at the level at which the characters could be recognized. After that, in the ensuing short period of 3 months, we launched our service and began to cooperate with AI inside in 2019. At the time, I remember being excited, being sure that clients would be pleased with this.
Partnering with NTT Data Corporation, Optimizing Centralized Tasks via RPA and OCR | AI inside Inc. (Japanese)
Abe: We were still building the AI-OCR market ourselves at the time, but we remember that you were making considerable efforts to spread “DX Suite.” What factors were involved there?
Mr. Tachibana: We think what hugely contributed was the ecosystem we shared with over 3,000 partner companies and 350 dealers, connected through WinActor. Partner companies often proposed wanting to tackle automating hard copy processing as the next step to automating tasks using RPA. One factor is that we offer “DX Suite” as a good companion of WinActor because they are easy to connect, and their effectiveness in automation is easily demonstrable.
The First Step of DX does not End with Mere Task Improvements
Social Innovation Division, RPA Solution Group, Mr. Kiyoto Oshio
Abe: Are there any memorable moments in your dealings with our company?
Mr. Oshio: A case where a large enterprise implemented our product with promising results, which caused it to proliferate to group companies, was memorable. The strength of “DX Suite” is that co-using it across different departments, such as the purchasing and human resource departments, is spreading. In addition, another deciding factor for its spreading to group companies is that anyone can easily use it and produce results immediately. We felt incredible motivation from the large scale of impact in contributing to task improvements for the entire group. AI-OCR is a commodity generating a major impact, as Step one of digital transformation, and is not limited to merely timesaving via text digitization.
Creating New Value by Multiplying AI Technology and NTT Data’s Accumulated Know-How
Social Innovation Division, RPA Solution Group, Manager,
Mr. Shunya Tachibana
Abe: Having continued working on projects for a while, what is your strategy for cooperation going forward?
Mr. Tachibana: We would like to evolve to solutions that automate and optimize the entire task process from integrating RPA and AI-OCR into services and platforms that dealers and our company build as well as to reading and storing the text.
Abe: To enable our product to be easy to implement, we aim to thoroughly investigate the user experience. Are you also considering new services and endeavors that integrate our company’s technology?
Mr. Tachibana: Yes, we are very interested in the “Learning Center” that AI inside offers. We are enthralled by the technology where anyone can easily create “the eye of AI” with no code, which detects not only text but also objects. We just started considering new services combined with SI and the solutions that we provide. For example, we would like to revolutionize the tasks that were assumed would be done by humans, such as defect detection in the manufacturing industry, failure inspections in infrastructure, automatic diagnoses via x-rays in medical care, and fall detection in caregiving.
Abe: Our company developed the AI training platform on our own, from which we created, provided, and cultivated. This training platform, which provides services and promotes AI development democratization, is the “Learning Center.” With the collaboration of the two companies, we aim to deliver AI in various formats.
Mr. Mori: Our companies will work on how to achieve a world where people are not consciously aware of AI. We want to think about how to create a good society leveraging AI and other technologies. We need to continue combining the world that AI inside strives to create and our company’s technology and knowledge to explore solutions.
To that end, for now, we shall continue to release new solutions to the world. There will be some failures with that, but it is imperative to move forward releasing more valuable assets while listening to user feedback, without fear of failure.
New AI Leveraging to Create a Productive Society desired by Both Companies
Abe: I am thrilled that various things came to fruition while we were building our partnership. What are your thoughts on the outlook of the two companies going forward?
Mr. Tachibana: We would like to build an ecosystem that deploys the mechanisms of the task reforms implemented successfully at one company to other companies. We think that AI, in particular, is something for everyone to accumulate, share, and cultivate knowledge about, so we want to create an environment that allows for that.
Mr. Oshio: In 2021 alone, we have experienced major societal changes, including in the RPA and AI-OCR market. In 5 years, I imagine there being an entirely different world waiting. As such, we would like to create impactful solutions together, with AI inside’s strong product development and our expertise.
Mr. Mori: I feel that the pivot points that the companies value are similar. NTT Data’s corporate philosophy is to “create new ‘mechanisms’ and ‘values’ with information technology, to contribute to achieving a more productive, harmonious society.” On the other hand, AI inside’s mission is “bringing AI to people and things to contribute to a more productive future society.” Both companies are striving to achieve a “productive society” as their buzzword. Through trial and error, let us work hard together to achieve this envisioned future.
Abe: There is the obstacle of the proof of concept (PoC) before actually implementing AI, so we still have a high bar to clear before that point. Even if we can imagine change using AI, there is a lot that we cannot be sure will really be effective and will not be implemented. We feel that we will be able to find the solutions by working with your company, so it would be great to dig even deeper into making AI more ingrained in society. Thank you very much for today.