SELECT Innovation Awards 2018 – pushing the boundaries of Innovation

There are some annual milestones that always make me stop and reflect. Year Ends are times when I look back at previous years and try to take stock of both the progress I’ve made over the course of previous twelve months and the extent to which I have achieved my goals. The same is true of our annual SELECT Innovation Awards. These acknowledge the hard work and the outstanding achievements of our partners over the course of the last year.

We receive incredible submissions for these awards – and each year, the entries chart the evolution of our channel. As businesses increasingly look for trusted partners to help them undertake their digital transformation, our channel partners have stepped up to the mark. SELECT Partners have moved far beyond the stage of a number of years ago, where a majority were selling and installing equipment, to the situation today, where most are designing and implementing incredibly diverse and innovative solutions for their customers.

This transformation was reflected very strongly in the impressive shortlisted projects – from South African Partner Sizwe, Green IT – Das Systemhaus in Germany and the ultimate winner, D.FI, from France. These were three very different projects, but they all had two things in common – innovation and the fact that they truly are pioneers: leading the way for many others to follow.

The Green IT project is a forerunner for a trend that I think we will see more and more – that is delivering environmentally friendly technology services. The company and its leadership are very much focused on responsibility in terms of how the work they do impacts on people, resources and the environment. Consequently, when the company wanted to expand its existing offering to cloud services, it sought out an almost carbon neutral way of doing so.

The solution involved delivering a series of as-a-service options by leveraging a data center located inside a wind turbine in Paderborn, Germany, which provides almost all of the data center’s power. The facility is part of the WindCORES initiative from German electricity provider WestfalenWIND IT and takes advantage of the empty space inside the huge turbine shafts. Fujitsu is playing its part, too: extremely energy-efficient PRIMERGY servers and ETERNUS storage systems keep power consumption and cooling requirements at a minimum. As a result, Green IT is able to offer truly green cloud services to customers and pass on the low running costs in its pricing.

Another company that is breaking new ground is our SELECT Partner Sizwe in South Africa: helping combat some of the very real challenges to delivering education in many rural South African communities. This is a region where a large percentage of children starting Grade 1 never obtain their National Senior Certificate, largely due to the fact that many villages and urban areas have no schools and lack the infrastructure, facilities or even power and connectivity needed to effectively educate their children.

Sizwe came up with a novel solution – in the form of a 28m2 solar powered, eco-friendly mobile smart classroom. Each unit can accommodate up to 27 pupils, sitting at benches, and using individual thin clients. These are connected via a local Ethernet network to a Fujitsu server which can deliver a rich variety of offline educational content. All the equipment has been developed to be highly robust – and is able to withstand the region’s dramatic temperature range. This results in fully-sustainable mobile classrooms that provide local educators, learners, their families and communities with the support and facilities needed to power real change for future generations and make a long-term impact on the country’s social and economic growth.

The ultimate winner of the 2018 SELECT Innovation Award was D.FI – a partner already heavily involved in supporting its customers in digital transformation. The team really took advantage of the support that Fujitsu provides to partners in terms of gaining expertise in emerging technologies, to roll out an entirely new and differentiated service. D.FI worked with our Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence in Paris to design and build an intelligent solution that can effectively manage the many thousands of support requests it receives every month.

Once the initial system was built, D.FI also validated the system via our AI test environment – meaning that the whole process from design, to proof of concept then deployment was just six weeks! Now the system automates the way support tickets are handled when they arrive – using natural language processing to understand their contents and effectively allocate them to the most appropriate location to be resolved. The system has significantly reduced errors and also enables D.FI to anticipate and prevent incidents. But even better, the system can now be replicated and rolled out to D.FI customers, delivering additional value for customers and revenue for them. And if I know the team, then this will only be the start of a range of new services developed in this way.

In summary, I could not be prouder of what our community is achieving. The channel remains a crucial part of Fujitsu’s ongoing success. My team and I invest a great deal of effort into ensuring that our partners continue to receive the support, products and services they need to succeed. Judging by the amazing projects that they are delivering – we must all be doing something right! I’m already looking forward to next year’s milestone to see how they have further pushed the limits of what is possible.

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