Game Changers: New Opportunities and Challenges in the Digital Transformation (DX) Era

FEW 2021 May MM Screenshot 1

FEW Japan welcomed financial expert Noriko Saeki-Rzonca to give much appreciated insights on the DX field, trends and careers. Noriko’s stellar career path includes roles such as Decision Management and Advance Data Analytics. Currently Noriko is leading the DX Strategy at Sony Bank. 

What is DX and all that?

This hot buzz word refers to Digital Transformation where businesses or services are in the process of adopting new digital technology. This involves replacing manual processes with automation to introduce completely new digital creative ideas and innovation. Thus, DX is very much synonymous with Game Changers. 

Skills required in DX go beyond just the technical such as data science programming skills and knowledge of data infrastructure as Noriko explained. Creative, critical and logical thinking are essential. There are management skills further categorized into project, team and data management. Industry knowledge and presentation skills are just as necessary.  

Noriko stresses that not everyone has the complete skill set that encompasses the world of DX, but people should not be discouraged if they want to pursue a career in this area. Teamwork is the key as many diverse skilled members contribute to this field.

Why Psychology?

What does DX have to do with this? Understanding customer behaviour is critical to marketing and to introducing new processes. Not only is there statistical data to be analyzed and forecasted, but there is an element of human behaviour and thinking that cannot be ignored. Japan being what can be described as homogeneous, takes special consideration. How do one group of people compare to another group of people? How are they different? How can we statistically measure and forecast behaviours such as technology adoption, purchasing behaviour etc.?  Noriko commented that even though she is born and raised Japanese herself, she has never seen another society with such a group dynamic like Japan. She is truly fascinated and skilled to find the answers to such questions. 

Noriko’s Philosophy on her DX Career Success: Left and Right

We should aim for balance between the scientific and creative calls of the two sides of our brains. Both sides, with the left being analytical and the right being creative, seem to help answer the other’s questions. Cultural and work factors can influence how well this balance can be achieved. Noriko-san says your optimum performance can depend on this very much and encourages us to work towards this awareness to achieve such balance.  

Thoughts on Japan

Digital Transformation is happening throughout the country with the government taking a lead by establishing a Digital Bureau. There is a push to eliminate the use of seals (hanko) for official approvals and the use of digital devices such as tablets in the public school classrooms. The financial industry is responding through merging ATMs to reduce inefficient operational costs of the Japanese banks. More encouragingly, there is an emphasis on “Know Your Customer” to make sure digital efficiency enhances customers needs and experiences. 

The challenge for Japan, especially for many corporations, is changing from traditional ways. Part of this is due to cultural norms that reward being “one of them” as opposed to “one of a kind”. In essence, it is conformity versus individualism and having one over the other greatly influences whether game changers can emerge. Some rules need to be questioned, improved or even ignored for creativity and innovation to take place. The lack of bilingualism in Japan puts the country in a less favoured light with global competition as corporate and government workers cannot get information quickly enough to advantageously respond.

The education system in Japan doesn’t nurture creativity as much as other countries. As Noriko explains, teachers serve as knowledge-givers and many Japanese lack critical thinking skills. The information learned by Japanese students in the public school system turns into crystallized knowledge. New business models can adapt much quicker in a society that is not one consisting of a great number of followers waiting for directions and orders. Japan needs to reward initiation and individual creativity while reducing the reliance on such stored knowledge. Adapting to the future challenges – most recently surrounding COVID-19, requires sound problem solving skills and resourcefulness. 

Potential for Women as Women are Potential

Addressing whether or not FEW members have a chance at being a game changer if they wish to pursue a career in the DX field, Noriko assured that most likely we have the founding skills and work experiences required already. There is no need to shy away as Japan needs to use all the talent they have especially with women offering so much potential. Today, especially with remote work, those women returning to the workforce have many opportunities before them. Noriko says to approach those opportunities with, “Hello, inspiration.”

Thank you Noriko for giving such an impressive look into the world of DX that many of our FEW members and guests hadn’t had a glimpse into before. Also for giving an optimistic view on how we can be game changers ourselves and harness the skills we have already for career development and transition. We are left with this gem of encouragement from Noriko: Don’t miss it, ride that tailwind!