President and General Manager Cisco Systems G.K.
The seasonal flu epidemic and the second wave of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19) could reignite a public health crisis. As COVID-19 has already taken its toll on society, we have been warned that a large wave of infection could occur again from autumn to winter this year, resulting in a second wave of outbreaks and increased economic pressure. Some experts and analysts say that the worst of the pandemic is over and we can go back to business as usual, but scientists and health officials are disagreeing; now might not be the time for companies and society to let their guard down. If there will be a second wave of COVID-19, as forecasted, I firmly believe that the next few months will be a critical period in which digital transformation initiatives will determine the survival of many companies. For this reason, government agencies and all organizations need to quickly prepare for a second wave over the next few months.
In COVID-19’s first wave many businesses were unprepared for its impacts on supply chain, employee productivity, consumer spending, and investment. It surprised us all. Many Japanese companies managed to keep their business going, but only 30% of them were able to effectively support telework, remote operations, and work from home. The remaining 70% struggled with organizational culture, leadership commitment, Industry demands, or technology to support new ways of working and were forced to continue to commute to office or take time off from work.
Some customers are already taking the time between first wave and second wave to improve their internal and external digitization processes and develop a culture that supports flexible working styles. Companies and societies that can use digital technologies to efficiently provide business and citizen services have a significant competitive advantage over companies and societies that cannot. The gap will continue to widen through COVID-19.
How are we helping? Over the last few months, Cisco saw the need to provide Cisco Webex, a secure video conferencing system, to Japanese companies and organizations to support secure work from anywhere, and in cooperation with the National Institute of Informatics (NII), has been providing supporting programs as the basis of distance learning to universities, junior colleges, and technical colleges throughout Japan. This was because we wanted to support students, teachers, companies, and government organizations. In the area of security, Cisco is committed to providing more access to our security software for the foreseeable future.
We are now focusing on institutions that provide healthcare and government services that require diagnostic and laboratory tools. We have also started to provide programs to support the construction of networks necessary for medical institutions to set up temporary medical facilities quickly and safely. Cisco Webex enables healthcare providers to communicate and collaborate remotely, even when doctors and patients are geographically separated. Doctors can provide medical examinations and second opinions without having to meet patients in-person.
With COVID-19 first wave, organizations have made rapid progress in remote work. Our mission is to help businesses and public organizations make the most of technology, transform work styles, and digitize business practices before the anticipated second wave arrives.
Cisco has built up a wealth of expertise and knowledge accumulated over many years through its own remote work practices, as well as technologies to ensure a secure environment and smooth communication, which are major challenges in remote work. We are committed to providing our customers with the latest digital technologies to help them work securely and productively from anywhere in a variety of industries.
As a company, and as a Cisco Japan team, we are committed to making positive contributions to Japanese society by providing solutions to support the digital transformation of our customers and society.
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