Tokyo GBE Day 4: Into the wonderful world of Robotics… introducing Pepper

By Giri Kesavan, MBA2021

Giri is the Co-President of The Tech & Media Club at London Business School. An MBA2021 student, he also chairs the degree & careers wide Technology Sector Steering Committee, working with the school, faculty, industry, alumni and Careers Centre on Technology education & careers. Over his time at LBS he has been interested in experiential learning at the school, including coordinating student-led physical and virtual treks to connect students to industry, from London to the world.

Into the second half of the GBE! While a lot of our focus in the coming few days is focused on our Business Challenge and Debate (more on this tomorrow), this morning we kicked off the day with a virtual visit to Softbank Robotics and had a chance to talk to Pepper (that’s a robot – not human…).

A friendly robot that detected and responds to emotions, it was remarkable to see first-hand how ‘human’ Pepper actually is, with natural movements, responses and even natural blinking! With over 35,000 Pepper robots deployed across 70 countries, we had a first-hand glimpse into the key use cases of robotics in collaboration with humans.

It was also interesting to learn how the cultural differences in a Japanese multi-national are handled when interacting with global teams:

  • Mapping the cultural differences between the team is key.
  • Product Marketing needs to be regionally focused and tailored to the target market. For example, Pepper’s marketing in the US is more direct and to-the-point, while in Japan it’s far more in-depth and technically centered.
  • The cultural differences in adoption of robotics is key to bear in the mind. While in Europe and the US this all sounds like science-fiction, this is just another day in Tokyo!

Thank you to Softbank Robotics for an eye-opening session into the future of robotics! As we wrap up the Global Business Experience, our group is now focused this afternoon on preparing for our final assessments tomorrow! Working backwards from the customer (the Amazon way!), we’re currently drafting a set of FAQs, to highlight the key concerns and questions that end consumers might have in adopting assistive robots.

Consolidating our learnings from the week, we’re also preparing a UK Parliament style debate on the future of robotics and the Japanese economy – much more on this in the wrap up blog tomorrow…!

Missed the previous entries in the series? Catch-up from Day 1 of the Tokyo GBE.

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