Virtual Company Presidents’ Roundtable Discussion
ICT & Electronics VC
Uenaka: We assume two roles in our operations, with the Tier 1 role as a primary supplier for automakers, mainly handling car navigation systems, and the Tier 2 role as a secondary supplier handling components, such as ECUs for automatic transmissions. In the Tier 1 role, there is an issue of how we should respond to the evolution of car navigation systems. Our strength lies in that we have vehicle information. In addition, Aisin AW had originally been handling high-precision map information. We intend to effectively combine these pieces of information with information equipment and jointly create new value with automakers. We are also looking into the creation of new Business to Business (B to B) services. In the Tier 2 role, we are required to offer even higher functionality and quality at lower costs, and this makes combining our products with IT systems more important. Along with technology development, we will make efforts to change our way of working. This means that within the VC System, we will assume a “Tier 1.5” role and foster collaboration in undertaking our tasks.
Ihara: Japanese manufacturers are forced into a difficult battle in this area, as is the case for semiconductors. Does the AISIN Group have a chance to take a competitive lead in this area?
Uenaka: We can differentiate ourselves by combining mechanical and actuator-related products, a source of the AISIN Group’s strengths, with ICT and electronics devices. We aim to channel more resources into this area and win out over the competition.
Ihara: We opened the Daiba Development Center in April 2017. What is your plan regarding personnel recruitment?
Uenaka: It takes time to nurture human resources. But we cannot wait that long. We need to cultivate the capabilities of our workforce through mid-career recruitment and other means.
Group Head Office
Mitsuya: For several decades, each company in the AISIN Group had conducted business separately. Taking the opportunity of the launch of the VC System, we need to reform this mindset by thinking what is best for a consolidated group, not for an individual company, and by questioning ourselves if our conventional way of working really generates value. As a first step, the Group Managerial Administration Sector will create a common platform by, for example, standardizing our accounting systems. We will then utilize AI and robotics technologies to automate routine operations and simple analysis and decision-making processes. Resources that have become available through higher efficiency will be allotted to overseas bases, to which we wish to add better management capabilities or assign more advanced, strategic operations. The Group Functions Sector will identify operations that are better conducted together in the areas of procurement, logistics, basic research and development, and leverage the scale advantage of the AISIN Group as an effort to achieve improvement.
Ihara: The Group Managerial Administration Sector provides good examples of integrated operations and unified systems of personnel affairs, accounting and public relations. On the other hand, the Business VCs and the Group Head Office have their own development, production, products, procurement and sales functions, just like before. The VC System will not work if we fail to define the clear roles of the Group Head Office and each Business VC. How will the Group Functions Sector handle the matter?
Mitsuya: We are indeed discussing with each Business VC about the roles of the Functions Sector. We will sort out our operations by first clarifying which operations are better conducted jointly.
Ihara: Taking procurement activities as an example, the system of purchasing main components at each Business VC and buying items that are suitable for bulk purchase, such as materials and electronic components, at the Group Head Office is a good, simple example. I hope you can achieve a similar separation of work in the areas of production engineering and development.
State of the VC System and Message for the Future
Ozaki: I felt certain that the VC System will be successful when I first addressed employees at the launch ceremony in April. As time passes, we will be able to build a heightened sense of unity within the Business VC. We are very thankful for receiving many inquiries from customers in the powertrain field. We will work to capture every chance and contribute to the growth of the entire Group.
Chassis & Vehicle Safety System VC
Ogiso: We at the Chassis & Vehicle Safety System VC are also feeling confident. Being able to talk to each other beyond the Group’s corporate borders is extremely valuable and is expected to generate a great outcome. We have many competitors in the chassis and vehicle safety field. To prevail over the competition, we absolutely need to transcend corporate borders and have frank discussions. We will facilitate exchange of honest opinions among the members of the VC System, draw on their individualities and work with a passion toward our goal.
Nishikawa: The VC System has been a driver of inter-company personal exchange. We will continue to expand this circle of exchange because we believe that natural interaction among people creates a strong system. Currently, the three companies are tackling issues for improving efficiency and utilizing “extra” resources generated through higher efficiency to expand our business. We will use the VC System effectively and work steadily toward enhancing the appeal of our products and increasing sales.
ICT & Electronics VC
Uenaka: The VC System has changed the atmosphere positively. We had collaborated within the Group in the past, but what differs most from our past initiatives is that members are very eager to provide ideas on what they would like to do. We already have 92 such action ideas. Achieving an outcome for each as early as possible will lead to the generation of new ideas on what to do next. We would like to establish such a positive cycle.
Group Head Office
Mitsuya: The Group Head Office started discussing about the VC System with each company around February of this year. Because there was only a limited time, we received varying opinions about the system at first. But as we explained our aspiration in detail, they gradually showed deeper understanding. We would like to set up a positive activity cycle by accumulating example cases, which make us feel we did a good thing and naturally create a sentiment to do more. About five years ago, we had conducted Group collaboration activities. Executive officers who gathered at that occasion were wearing different company badges, and I asked them to take those badges off and talk as members of the AISIN Group. We have only one badge today, and I no longer have to ask them to take it off. The entire Group will work as one team for the future of the AISIN Group.
Ihara: The VC System is, in fact, an extreme measure designed to secure the future competitiveness of the AISIN Group. In the age of great uncertainty, it is difficult to attain greater competitiveness through a work style that exists within the context of conventional ideas. Thus, the most important objective of the VC System is to reform our way of working and increase our competitive edge. The entire AISIN Group will strive together to continue to evolve through trial and error, meet the expectations of our stakeholders and move ahead to enhance our competitiveness.