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Event Report

Kicking Off Our 2024 CIO Roundtable Series

We held our first CIO Roundtable of the year at the Tokyo American Club.  We invited seven CIOs from large Japanese corporations across various industries including manufacturing, pharma, energy and consumer packaged goods.  All executives held joint CIO and CISO responsibilities.

The executives were IT professionals or specialists, not lifetime employees who were assigned to their roles.  This is an important distinction in that these participants are less beholden to the status quo. They were recruited to implement change.

We dove into our roundtable discussion with the following questions:

  • What are your business priorities?
  • What factors are key in choosing to deploy new technologies?
  • What technologies are “must haves” for Japanese companies now and into the future?

What CIOs are Saying

The roundtable participants were focused on driving innovation and business improvements at their companies.  They were very open to new ideas and solutions.  At dinner, they were extremely candid about their challenges and frustrations, as well as opportunities.  Below are a few comments and issues raised by the executives:

  • Foreign software firms are great at selling but need to improve their post-sales support
  • Should security be its own business unit, reporting directly to the CEO?
  • How can IT contribute more to improving labor productivity?  What kind of organizational structure, values, and processes are most effective?
  • Japan’s developer productivity is said to be lower than that in the US-how do we fix this?
  • How do we improve the productivity and agility of systems integrators?
  • How do we use Generative AI optimally, securely, and cost-effectively?

Key Takeaways

Following are key takeaways from the roundtable.  Again, their candor was refreshing. These executives are on a mission to change their companies.  There are few sacred cows.

  • Japanese companies look to SaaS to accelerate their business, to speed up engagement with customers
  • Japanese companies are currently focused on the basics, i.e. engaging with customers, ensuring security, and improving developer productivity
  • Japanese companies have a huge need to access global knowledge-Japan Cloud has an important role to play in providing this access
  • SaaS companies need to double down on customer success.  This requires developing their team and building a culture of customer success locally, as well as educating customers about how to derive maximum value from their deployments

Upcoming CIO Roundtables

We are planning on organizing CIO Roundtables throughout the year in Tokyo as well as in Osaka.  Our next one will be in late May.  Special thanks to Fukuda-san and our marketing guru Tomoko Hashimoto for organizing these incredibly valuable events!