Enlivening SMEs with Advanced Technology.
The Joy of Continuing a Challenge.
eftax IoT Promotion Division Manager | Masuo Kobayashi
Involvement with Soleil Data Dojo
──What is your involvement with Soleil Data Dojo?
As manager of the IoT promotion department of eftax Co., Ltd., the management company of Soleil Data Dojo, I organize IoT study sessions and provides technical support.
I strive every day as a companion to create innovation such as introduction supports and educational approaches in many areas. There are many opportunities to work with interns on projects.
──How did you come to work for eftax?
Around the time when I had retired at the age of 60 and had just started working as a part-time worker, I thought that knowledge of data analysis would also be necessary in the age of cloud and IoT, so I took the “Data Analysis Training Course White / Brown / Black Levels” . Its organizer was eftax. This led me to join eftax in January 2019.
Background to IoT Promotion
──What kind of work did you do before that?
In my experiences in technical and administrative departments (cost accounting, internal control, personnel, and general affairs), software engineering is the longest. The main products I produced were medical devices, electric power distribution systems, and security and disaster prevention systems. I have designed software in a place tagged as “mission-critical” that required regular operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There, an open-source operating system called Linux was used for system development. In IoT, a business card-sized computer called Raspberry Pi was used as a reference, but the basis for this was the Linux OS.
The promotion of a Linux-based system that is closely related to IoT has not changed since my days as a software engineer. Initially, we were developing from scratch, but of course, there is a high risk of bugs and poor productivity. By developing software on a platform called Linux, we can now create efficient and high-quality network products. Even when producing a dedicated device, there are many other advantages, such as setting up an emulation environment to proceed with the development on a Linux personal computer before the hardware is ready.
By connecting Linux to our hardware and creating a Linux device driver, we made all the products we are in charge of into a Linux platform. With that flow, you will get to learn Raspberry Pi and a programming language called Python.
Single-board computers such as the Raspberry Pi came out around the end of my days as a software engineer. I was very interested in the emergence of a cheap and high-quality tool that utilizes the knowledge and experience of Linux that I had cultivated so far.
──The advent of the RaspberryPi, which was full of the wisdom of Linux at the time, led you to the IoT.
Another turning point came when I moved from the technical department that develops software to the management department. With that as an opportunity, I wanted to optimize the operations and increase the productivity of the management department. That led to the use of IoT technology in the attendance system created there. At that time, attendance was managed by stamping a paper time card and posting it to Excel. It all started with the question, “Why are time cards so analog, even though the company works on digitalization?”
By holding FeliCa over the NFC reader when clocking in and out of work, communication can be made, accessing the database, automatically sending an email to the employee and the bosses, and displaying the time in the attendance table on the spreadsheet. With this flow, I thought about digitizing the paper time card.
Overtime and paid leave could also be managed with this attendance sheet, which is also useful to the labor management responsible for work status.
Raspberry Pi was used for the IoT device, while Cloud SQL was used for the database. The spreadsheet is a high-performance front-end for displaying databases on the cloud. You can issue an SQL SELECT statement that extracts data with Google Apps Script to Cloud SQL and incorporate the required information into your attendance sheet.
IoT senses events and stores them in a database on the cloud, making it possible to make inquiries. In the case of the system of the IoT device I developed at that time, the identification number of the FeliCa card and the employee number are linked and stored in the database on the cloud together with the time stamp. The official operation started in November of 2014. Although minor improvements were made, it was used without any major problems.
In addition, while working on business improvement such as G suit introduction, I began to give lectures on IoT on Google’s user group. Nowadays I support system development as well as in-house production by disclosing the design information, including the source codes. In addition to holding IoT study meetings, I hold seminars as a local government registered expert in IoT introduction facilitation project services and as an IT expert in the SME digital support corps services.
Soleil Data Dojo’s Student Internships from a Working Person’s Perspective
──You have many opportunities to work with interns on projects. From your point of view, how would you like an internship at Soleil Data Dojo?
Student Internship at Soleil Data Dojo has the foundation for learning and to put into practice. The students will acquire the ability to become an immediate asset in society. An environment where you can listen to the views of people who are knowledgeable in data analysis is very valuable. By actually participating in the internship, I think you will experience the importance of being involved in society. I think interns will be pleased with a system that pays for the cost of technical books and a system where compensations and practical contents are based on their level of proficiency.
I was always challenging myself. A hopeless case who didn’t listen to what his boss had to say and did whatever he wanted to do. However, I thought by myself and overcame numerous obstacles, and advanced forward. When you turn 65, it is an appropriate age to retire. However, because I continued to challenge myself when I was active, I was in a state where I could think, “If I want to do it, I can do it.”
The seniority system that requires one to continue working in a particular company until retirement age has collapsed, and we are now in an era where we can play an active role regardless of age. I am also looking forward to working with young and talented people. I hope to see you at Soleil Data Dojo.