Updated on August 23, 2017
To pursue its mission of "being a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity," Sony must engage in innovation to win new customers. Sony continues creating new technologies so that its engineers can develop products that provide functional value while appealing to people's sensibilities and inspiring them.
Sony is technology-driven. To become even better at what Sony does, achieving overwhelming technological superiority is an absolute imperative. Toward that end, the entire group is pooling its efforts as part of the One Sony strategy. Strong inter-organizational ties accelerate technical progress, bring about technological integration, and yield new products and services unlike anything seen before anywhere. Business units have been spun off to operate as independent, autonomous subsidiaries. At the same time, Sony seeks to strengthen cohesiveness by creating arrangements that span the boundaries between Group companies. With that aim in mind Sony established field-specific technology strategy committees in fiscal 2015, and these committees are now in operation.
A technology strategy committee is established for each field. Each one consists of specialists who are selected from across Group companies. These committees work to achieve technical innovation and roll out organization-specific technologies across the Group. Technology is developed by people, so technology strategy committees implement related human resource measures. Sony offers human resources development programs such as a key technology training course as well as personnel recruitment; this approach accounts for the special features of different technologies, and transcends the boundaries between different Sony Group companies. In addition, Sony has group-wide engineer certification systems—such as the Sony Outstanding Engineer Award*1 and the Distinguished Engineer system.*2 Discussion and judgement for these recognitions are done within the framework of the technology strategy committees.
At the Sony Group in Japan, approximately 200 Sony engineers with frontline expertise in key technological fields develop curricula and textbooks for use in technology training courses, aiming to enhance the expertise of engineers. These courses, which are designed to provide a basic understanding of technical matters, are attended by more than 5,000 employees every year. In addition, Sony provides a wide array of opportunities for employees to learn about cutting-edge technologies. Among other activities, outside experts are invited to deliver lectures and conduct training workshops, and internal open house events are often held.
Sony enhances the skills of its new recruits by offering them general technological training designed by leading Group engineering experts, as well as specialized training programs developed by each of Sony's business units, which are designed to familiarize the trainees with technologies specific to each business. Furthermore, under the guidance and advice of their supervisors and tutors, the recruits participate in theme-based training carried out at Sony Corporation and several group companies to address issues that they themselves had chosen to work on. While picking up technical skills and know-how, participants also develop a better understanding of the importance of communication and how business is conducted, thereby preparing them to take on challenges early in their careers.
In fiscal 2003, Sony established the Sony Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award to recognize Sony Group employees who have developed innovations that create new value for customers, and who have worked hard to solve advanced technical problems by applying specialized expertise and knowledge. A total of 263 employees have been honored with the MVP Award, which is the highest honor an engineer at the Sony Group can receive.
In 2016, however, the Group launched a successor to the MVP Award, called the Sony Outstanding Engineer Award. Sony's purpose in launching this new award is to pursue its mission of "being a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity," and to seek future growth while encouraging engineers to accelerate efforts to take on new challenges.
In order to develop products and services that appeal to customers' sensibilities, there is a wide range of technologies that Sony will have to work on. In addition to elemental technologies, there is also a need to integrate creative new technologies, and to optimize complex systems. Intended to increase the motivation of engineers, such awards have encouraged employees to be proactive in addressing challenges and have also promoted a corporate culture that emphasizes value creation.
The Distinguished Engineer (DE) designation is a group-wide system for providing recognition to employees who possess outstanding technical expertise in Sony's key technological fields and have made a significant contribution to Sony. The DE system shows that "the face of Sony technology" is important to Sony because it plays a leading role in resolving problems and technology strategies. By publicizing this system group-wide, Sony enables its Distinguished Engineers to serve as role models for younger engineers. The group-wide launch of this system has helped to provide solutions for issues at their respective departments, while creating technology-based inter-organizational ties which can be expected to contribute in many different ways, including human resources development.