Four outside directors share their views on corporate governance and sustainable growth issues for Ricoh.
Information and communication technology, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), and other high-tech areas have evolved far faster than anticipated. This progress has transformed the environments and structures of offices, which relate closely to the Company's businesses. Our challenges in such mature markets as Japan, the United States, and Europe are to refine technologies in those technology fields to drive innovations and create and enhance customer value. In expanding emerging nations, we need to deploy regional strategies that leverage simple systems to boost customer productivity.
I share my views on specific matters with other members of the Board of Directors in light of these considerations and the strengths of the Ricoh Group.
I constantly state that safety, the environment, and compliance are top priorities in tackling change, and I want all employees to embrace that commitment. Through my involvement with the Board of Directors, I aim to contribute to a dynamic and rewarding corporate culture for employees.
The Board progressed in addressing the effectiveness of evaluations, which was an issue in the previous year, and both the Nomination Committee and Compensation Committees performed well. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, I would like to deepen deliberations about challenges that are vital for the success of RICOH Resurgent, such as reinforcing growth strategies and global management.
IoT is the fruit of the relentless progress of computers, information, and memory devices. Products and services linked to the Internet can exchange information and provide new value. Ricoh is also focusing on IoT, primarily through its MFPs and RICOH THETA spherical camera. It has based its products and services to date on the ideas and inventions of its developers. In contrast, IoT empowers anyone to determine what to connect THETA with. Employees in general have to offer ideas for innovative services, promptly acting on them where possible.
What organizations tend to neglect is the Three Reality Principle that was central to the ethos of Soichiro Honda, Honda Motor's founder. He believed in going to where things happen, identifying what is happening, and being realistic. While it may be hard to always apply that principle today, its essence remains unchanged. Enterprises typically lose sight of where they actually stand as they grow, so I will make keeping things real pivotal to overseeing management.
In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, the Board was able to discuss mid-term management plans extensively because it had optimized the selection of agenda items throughout the year and had streamlined the handling of reporting items.
I believe that our deliberations should increasingly encompass such future-oriented areas as research and development and new businesses.
I recognize that my role as an outside director is to help the Ricoh Group formulate its business strategies and make management decisions by drawing on the broad perspectives and vision I accumulated as a general trading firm executive.
Economic globalization has created far more business development options, complicating decision-making. Our actions may have broader consequences in the form of unexpected obstacles and complaints. So, it will likely become essential to secure wide-ranging views from companies and individuals around the world to make the best decisions and avert crises.
In view of the diversity of technological innovations and their great impacts, particularly in AI, IoT, and robotics, it will become more important to persist with efforts to transform new technologies into profitable businesses. It is also crucial for corporate managements to remember that focusing excessively on near-term profitability may prevent them from improving enterprise value over the long term. I will keep that uppermost in mind as an outside director in monitoring management.
Outside directors and internal non-executive directors engaged in free and vigorous debate through the Board of Directors and Nomination and Compensation committees. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, we aim to assess governance from companywide perspectives, including through auditing and internal controls, and push forward with improvements.
It is crucial to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Social Development to help resolve global social challenges. People will increasingly assess companies based on their ability to swiftly tackle such challenges without compromising management ethics. Ricoh was swift to set goals based on SDGs in its 19th Mid-Term Management Plan. It will be strategically important to align innovations in core and new businesses to these SDGs.
As an outside director, I will draw on my corporate and academic background and diverse external perspectives and ideas to contribute through the Board to making business growth through innovation compatible with sustainability.
The digitization of all levels of society will change everything. A good example of that so far is that the world's biggest retailer does not have a physical store. Ultimately, companies may no longer have offices. I believe that by achieving true innovations in knowledge creation, Ricoh can offer and drive progress with grand design for society.
The Board engages in extensive deliberations as part of the governance process.
I believe that the Company will need to make its deliberations and decision making even more transparent and swift from global perspectives to materialize its RICOH Resurgent goals under the 19th Mid-Term Management Plan.