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International Newsmaker Q&A Gary Shapiro

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 06:00
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Nissan is among many global automotive operations that have been displaying and exploring the latest technological innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held each January in Las Vegas. CES 2018 is Jan. 9-12.

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Some 60,000 attendees from outside the United States, representing 158 countries, regions and territories, were walking the aisles at CES 2017, absorbing and pondering the offerings of 4,015 exhibitors.

During his keynote address at the 2017 edition of the event, Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the board and CEO, announced several new “breakthrough technologies,” including SAM – Seamless Autonomous Mobility.

Originating with engineering developed by NASA, SAM “partners in-vehicle artificial intelligence (AI) with human support to help autonomous vehicles make decisions in unpredictable situations and build the knowledge of in-vehicle AI.”

As part of Nissan Intelligent Integration initiative, SAM “could potentially enable millions of driverless cars to co-exist with human drivers in an accelerated timeline,” according to Ghosn, enlisting other firms to participate in the endeavor.

“We invite others to join us,” he said, “from tech partners to e-commerce companies, ride-hailing and car-sharing platforms, and social entrepreneurs who can help us to test and develop new vehicles and services, and make sure everyone has access to the latest technologies and services that bring value to their lives.”

Building on Ghosn’s goal of widespread autonomous vehicle adaptation, several Nissan executives explored the prospects of ongoing cooperative partnerships in a Q&A forum with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which produces CES. Shapiro shares his insights on the forum in this Q&A session.

Q: Partnerships are a big part of CES. What’s different about how companies partner today versus 10, 20 or even 30 years ago?

A: There’s been a huge change, even compared with two or three years ago. I’ve had discussions with major CEOs about this. Their whole attitude has changed. It used to be that you created a company and partnering was thought to be nice but it wasn’t a big deal. There were not a lot of people focused on it. Then the internet came along and partnerships became much more important.

When I’m talking with major companies, you can now find a corporate philosophy where they say, “We have to partner with small companies.” No one company has all the answers anymore.

Q: You say no one company has all the answers. What brought about the change?

A: Part of it is the technology, because of the app economy. And part of it also is that no company is good at everything anymore. Even companies like Apple, Sony and Samsung are doing partnerships because they have to.

It used to be that there was just a make-or-buy decision; you either made something yourself or you acquired it. Now there’s a third choice to partner; you don’t have to buy or merge. You can just learn and share. Maybe you’ll have a relationship that will allow you to acquire them, but meanwhile they’re giving you value that would otherwise take you years to develop.

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