The pace of digitalisation is accelerating rapidly and every aspect of our daily lives is being transformed writes Rukmini Glanard, Executive Vice President, Global Sales, Services & Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. How we work, how we live, how we travel, and how we access healthcare are just some of the things that are undergoing a major evolution.

In response to chronic social challenges and inequalities including its aging population, Japan set out its transformative vision for the future: Society 5.0. More far-reaching than Industry 4.0, Society 5.0 takes technology up a gear and blurs the boundary between cyberspace and physical space.

Society 5.0 will create ‘super-smart societies’ where the goal is to achieve a sustainable and inclusive socio-economic system, enabled by technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and big data.

Human centric

Following the global health crisis, we will see the re-humanisation of the world. It forced people to reconnect on a human level with many aspects of their daily life. Whereas in Industry 4.0 digital advancement was driven by technology, in Society 5.0 humans will be at the heart of advancement.

This human-centred approach will see technology, society and nature operating in harmony. All with the aim of delivering economic development while creating solutions to overcome social challenges.

Inclusive

Access, or lack of access, to technology has the potential to reinforce social inequalities. This ‘digital divide’ has to be bridged with governments and other institutions taking responsibility for it.

Inclusivity and accessibility are key aspects of our CSR activity, making opportunities available outside of the restrictions of geography, also extends to closing the ‘digital gap’ and facilitating the use of technology for universal benefit.

Demand for energy is increasing but we also need to reduce emissions; demand for foodstuffs is increasing, and we need to increase production; the population is aging, and we need to mitigate the costs associated with an aging society. These examples illustrate the correlation between economic development and societal challenges that will be addressed within Society 5.0.

Making it happen

There will be no one-size-fits-all approach to Society 5.0. Different regions have their own unique socio-economic challenges and constraints.

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However, mission-critical networks which deliver high bandwidth to the city, or extended city, will be the enablers of digitalisation as these are the foundations which underpin everything in a fully connected world.

By connecting citizens and employees, and utilising technologies like unified communications as a service (UCaaS), contact centre as a service (CCaaS) and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) we can deliver life-changing intelligent connectivity services. By complementing these with location-based services or asset tracking, we can exponentially multiply the number of possible use cases.

Collaboration

Enterprise has a significant part to play in delivering Society 5.0, but there must be a collaborative approach. The goal is to create shared value, where companies pursue financial success in parallel with delivering societal benefits.

Collaborations between industry, academia and government will accelerate initiatives that aim to build digitally inclusive societies, create stronger and more resilient economies, and enable the workforce of the future.

There must also be a commitment to change among all stakeholders. Any resistance will stifle the innovation that will be required for lasting change to happen.

Sustainability

Sustainability is vital to Society 5.0 and will be used as a measurement of its success. Everybody across all industries including government, transportation, and healthcare wants to deliver state-of-the-art technology while minimising their impact on the environment.

Ecology of communication

Our aim for the future is to curate the overwhelming, ever-growing and ever diverse flow of information between individual members of a society or organisation and the digital sphere through contextualisation. Employee wellbeing is placed highly on our business agendas, we understand the detrimental impact of stress and are keen to develop methods to reduce potential burnout and information overload.

It also reduces the energy footprint of such systems as less storage is used to hold only time relevant information, and less computing power through the use of consumption aware AI algorithms. At the organisational or societal level, the implementation of contextualisation provides novel real-time analytics, known as social graphs, to build an accurate picture of how policies or processes are working and anticipate / correct social inadequacies.

Many of the enabling technologies for Society 5.0, such as IoT, AI and robotics, are already here and paving the way for the future. However, harnessing the power of Society 5.0 and achieving a digital utopia will require robust networks, collaboration, communication and, above all, a commitment to change.

About Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

At Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, we are looking ahead and ready to embrace the future. Our business has been established for over 100 years, and we have seen many technological changes during that time. Through initiatives such as our GoGreen program, we are committed to protecting the environment and ensuring a sustainable future for all.

In recognition of this, we were a recipient of the 2021 EcoVadis Silver Medal Rating. Our R&D teams are working on communications and collaboration solutions to support the implementation of Society 5.0 objectives. Our vision is to develop a full ‘ecology of communication’ around the use of such systems with the help of AI technologies.