LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI: Kaoru Kato, NTT Docomo’s president and CEO, looked at the future of the mobile industry in this morning’s keynote and, if his own company is the benchmark, then operators will be forging links with everyone from retailers and industrial giants to farmers and even small robots.
“The key is to continue with innovation, and it will later become essential to users,” said the Docomo chief, outlining a series of cross-industry initiatives, many of them freshly agreed.
The Docomo chief had examples to back his case, including an alliance announced earlier this week with Laox, a leading duty free chain in Japan, that offers special privileges to users roaming on the operator’s network.
And a deal with Lawson, a leading convenience store in Japan with 12,000 outlets, whereby loyalty points are mutually exchangeable, as well as offering discounts to shoppers who with pay with the operator’s dcmx credit service.
And last week Docomo inked an MoU with GE to jointly develop an Internet of Things (IoT) alliance that will combine the US giant’s wireless router for the industrial sector with the operator’s network. The joint initiative will enable real-time analysis of industrial equipment.
And the operator is promoting ICT in the agricultural sector, so that farmers can monitor and manage a range of environmental factors including water level, temperature and humidity.
And then finally to the youngest target market, he said Docomo is working with Takara Tomy, a leading domestic toy firm. The two firms have joined forces on an intelligent robot aimed at children.
The robot can have conversations with kids, and hooks up to a cloud network. As well as being revenue-generating in its own right, Docomo hopes the toy is embellishing its innovation credentials, as well as showing its brand in a new light.