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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Matsushita to Supply Network Computers to 4,000 Employees
  • January 29, 1999 (TOKYO) — Matsushita Electric Works Ltd. plans to supply about 4,000 network computers to employees by the year 2000.
    The plans call for the company to develop an environment which allows its entire staff, except a few of those who are at the production headquarters, to use intranets via the network computers (NCs).

    Matsushita plans to operationally test several hundred NCs at its sales office in Nagoya. It then plans to gradually introduce NCs at offices nationwide. Matsushita is the first company in Japan to introduce NCs on the scale of several thousands of units.

    Matsushita has been working to introduce a company-wide information system on the basis of the intranets. It has already distributed one PC to each of its more than 10,000 employees. About 4,000 employees who deal with order acceptance/distribution tasks will be given their PC later.

    Matsushita aims at having its company-wide intranets run NCs, which will replace host computers’ exclusive terminals. NCs will be distributed to some of the management board members, including the president.

    Although use of application software available for the NC is limited, “NCs can not only be used in place of host computers’ exclusive terminals, but also used for the Web as well as for email. Quite a few staffers consider NCs more than sufficient for daily tasks,” said Masahiro Hamada of the Information System Center of Matsushita.

    Matsushita said it ended up spending more than 100 million yen (US$880,000) when in 1996 it replaced Windows 3.1, an operating system for 3,400 PCs, with Windows 95.

    “A large part of operating system replacement must be done manually, therefore, the more the number of PCs to be worked on, the higher the costs. We are currently holding the upgrade of Windows 95 to Windows 98, however, the operating system will have to eventually be replaced again within several years,” said Hamada. Because of this, the introduction of the one-PC-per- person system is restraining total cost of ownership.

    The NC can easily be centrally managed as it downloads software from a server only when it is necessary. “This makes the software replacement task very simple. Moreover, since our employees are not allowed to freely add software to NCs, we can avoid unnecessary troubles,” said Hamada.

    “NC Desktop,” Oracle Corp. Japan’s operating system for the NC, will be loaded on the server. Matsushita plans to select a product equipped with a built-in processor and priced similarly to low-priced PCs. Negotiations with several makers such as Fujitsu Ltd. are currently under way.

    “The price is expected to be slightly lower than PCs with similar performance,” said Hamada.

    Related stories: Matsushita Electric Works to Use NCs for Enterprise System

    (Nikkei Information Strategy)

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