Working Toward a Sustainable World

Learn why future-focused companies that place people and the planet alongside profit are best positioned to thrive in the coming years

NTT’s President and CEO, Akira Shimada, outlines the Corporation’s vision of a more sustainable future for business and society, explaining how its latest technological innovations help to enable the digital shift to a new social infrastructure

In short, forward-looking companies that place people and the planet alongside profit are best positioned to thrive in the coming years. But, most significantly, their success will enable societies to flourish in a virtuous circle.

Global technology firm NTT is one such business guided by sustainability at the core of its strategy. “Our mission is to create a better employee experience that will enable us to provide a greater customer experience,” says Akira Shimada, NTT’s President and CEO, outlining the company’s current vision of a more sustainable future.

“We will transform ourselves to enhance our capabilities from a company of communications and computing systems to a company that connects innovative technologies and data to create new experiences, new value and a better future”.
Akira Shimada
NTT’s President and CEO

NTT published its Global Sustainability Charter in November 20211, when it restructured its mid-term management strategy. The Charter is a cornerstone document, articulating the organization’s long-term commitment to promoting sustainable initiatives that achieve growth and prosperity while simultaneously resolving social issues.

Three pillars, nine challenges

The Sustainability Charter lists three central pillars or themes, each comprising three challenges and 10 business activities that NTT believes are important for building a sustainable society.

The first pillar ensures the coexistence of nature and humanity and aims to solve environmental issues while promoting economic development. NTT Group will focus on moving toward a decarbonized society, and commit to resource recycling while promoting initiatives that encourage greater harmony between people and nature.

The second pillar pledges to improve prosperity for all people and cultures. To realize this goal, NTT will establish shared ethical standards and accept diverse, democratic cultures while aiming to improve society and create value. Furthermore, it will prepare for the future by innovating with trusted partners and developing powerful new technologies, paving the way for safer, more secure and resilient communities.

“Our mission is to create a better employee experience that will enable us to provide a greater customer experience.” – Akira Shimada, President and CEO, NTT

The final pillar aims to maximize wellbeing for all by respecting human rights, encouraging diversity and inclusion, and exploring new workplace models.

In line with this final commitment, NTT embraced a new management style2 in September 2021 that aims to build a decentralized, network-based society. It will focus on remote working, which was vital during the Covid-19 crisis and will become even more so in the post-pandemic age.

NTT’s approach is founded on accelerating technological innovation that supports society and industry as a whole by collaborating with partners and innovation experts. It also supports a transition from individuality and isolated groups toward more diverse cultures and highly connected communities—essentially a “community of communities.”
Self as we: holistic, more impactful

A month after launching its Sustainability Charter, the company published the NTT Group Sustainability Report 20213, reinforcing its commitment to becoming a sustainable organization.

This approach has been developed based on the “Self as We” philosophy proposed by Professor Yasuo Deguchi of Kyoto University. His theory is that individuals do not exist or succeed in isolation (“self as I”), but are supported by their connections with a broad range of people, nature, objects and technologies. He points out that we need a greater awareness of these relationships and that the ideal approach is to aim toward coexistence in much the same way as the natural world. He also explains how this mindset can be applied in everyday life.

“We cannot do anything at all by ourselves, alone. The idea of ‘we’ is sometimes lost in the modern idea of human beings. As a result, the positive impact is limited to just a few people—a family, a village community or a single nation-state. My idea of ‘self as we’ is holistic; it’s membership on a grand scale. The bigger way is a better way.”

In the coming years, interactivity between people, objects and technologies within cyberspace—such as the metaverse, artificial intelligence and similar services—must be encompassed by the “we.” This recognition that technology now forms part of the “we” is key to ensuring the proper use of technology in an ethical and virtuous way.

Tangible work toward sustainability

An example of NTT’s innovation that contributes to a sustainable world is IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network). It is an ultra-high capacity, low-latency communications networks and computing infrastructure based on the principles of photonics—technologies that work with fiber optics and photons at all levels.

This IT social infrastructure concept comprises three main technology components: All-Photonics Network, which uses optical technology at every level, from networks to devices; Digital Twin Computing, which provides interactions between the real world and digital representations to make future predictions; and the Cognitive Foundation, in which all these resources are controlled harmoniously.

In summary, IOWN’s roles and functionality serve as part of a new social infrastructure that ultimately contributes to a more sustainable world.

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