Recherche FFJ Research Statement Haruki Sawamura

Haruki Sawamura

Frontier of connectivity technologies and human intervention in mobility service sector in Europe and in Japan

How the human role and responsibilities are redefined by the introduction of connectivity technologies?


1. Social context and applicability

Connectivity is an emerging topic in the mobility sector along with the realization of fully automated self-driving. The technological advancements of next generation Information and Communication Technology (ICT) potentially bring different technological innovations that can be integrated to vehicles such as small energy-efficient sensors, high-speed large-capacity telecommunications and improvements in computing technologies. A connected car in this research is defined as: a vehicle that has continuous connectivity to the Internet and to nearby objects via wireless communication technologies1, having the capability to optimize its own operation and maintenance as well as the convenience and comfort of drivers and passengers with the help of different sensors, computing systems or human interventions.

Definition of Connectivity Technologies

The installation of advanced telecommunication technologies, such as 5G technology, significantly increase data transfer capacity. This facilitates the integration of different technologies to vehicles, i.e. as the consequence of this wireless data transfer capacity increase, variant real-time data about cars, roads, city traffic, weather, drivers and passengers can be used to provide practical information to drivers or concerned people, or to directly control the vehicle.

In this context, this research supposes that the augmentation of connectivity of vehicle is lead by Connectivity Technologies (CTs) defined as following: CTs are the technologies that are used to 1) collect data, 2) transfer data, 3) process data, 4) communicate processed-data through human interface or 5) project processed-data to control vehicle.

Table: Categories of Connectivity Technologies


Corresponding technologies

Data collection Sensing technologies
Data transfer Telecommunication technologies
Data process Computing technologies
Processed-data communication Human interface technologies
Processed-data projection Vehicle controlling technologies

Connectivity serves different purposes: it can increase convenience, security, and accessibility of mobility as well as seamlessness and energy efficiency of transport systems. The connectivity of mobility has thus far increased to date by the installation of real-time navigation systems (VICS in Japan), Electronic Toll Collection Systems (télépéage in France) and mobile-based ride-sharing services such as Uber, for example. These Intelligent Transport Systems are supported by wide range of CTs: 1) sensors that collect data, 2) telecommunications that transmit the data and 3) computing system that analyses the data. Further advancements of these technologies are awaited: brain-wave detection sensors, next-generation network technology such as 5G and quantum computing, for instance. The most significant advancement expected to be brought by advanced CTs is further automations in mobility system.

Applicability: Increase of connectivity is not only for vehicles

The diffusion of CTs facilitates the deployment of further automated consumer products/services not limited to automobile industry but also in other industrial domains such as health care, security service, delivery service and house cleaning. The results are expected to be applicable to other types of automated products as well.

2. Focus and objective

This research aims at understanding different innovations in mobility service sector brought by the introduction of connectivity technologies. The research takes mobility service as case to describe:

  1. Integrations of connectivity technologies in mobility service sector,
  2. Redefinitions of human role and human responsibility in organisations,
  3. Cognitions of connectivity technologies in different organizational cultures.

While some business processes are (semi-)automated in service sector, many business processes remain non-automated and depend on human interventions such as scheduling and dispatch of vehicles, drivers and passengers. Why do some activities remain non-automated? Are the reasons technological, emotional, financial or regulatory? Will they be automated by introducing advanced technologies or will they remain as they are despite the technological advancement? Is the acceptance of automation technologies differ from one organizational culture to another?

To discuss these points, this research poses following two research questions:

  • How the human role and responsibilities are redefined by the introduction of connectivity technologies?
  • What are the impacts of these redefinitions on the value creation and value capture process of organizations?

By answering these questions, this research aims at filling research gaps explained in the following section.

3. Literature review

Human role and responsibility

The research focuses on the role and responsibility of human that is increasingly important to design the social infrastructures of the near future including Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructures: wider range of people in the society will benefit from the automated products and services.

Automations and human interactions have been studied for different types of piloting such as space ships and aircrafts [1,2]. Automations in industrial systems should be designed to take advantage of human factors such as judgment, flexibility, experience, adaptability and motivations while minimizing the possible human errors [3]. As automations can deskill humans and lower their morale, soft and compliant technologies rather than rigid and formal ones are needed [4]. The augmentation of connectivity leads business process more autonomous and the role of human can be subsidiary in the automated process. Human would not interact regularly with the system but rather intervene in it if there is a need. The level of automation would differ depending on the cognition and credibility towards connectivity technologies in the organization.

Business Model Innovation

More advanced CTs, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, will be integrated into business processes and they are expected to increase its business performance. The findings of the research will give significant insights on business model innovation and organizational change management study: the integration of CTs requires the companies to rethink different parameters in their business process such as the efficiency, credibility, accountability and resilience.

This research aims at contributing business model innovation study from organizational change perspective. While business model innovation is defined for example as the process of designing a new, or modifying the firm’s extant activity system [5], no precise definition of business model innovation has yet emerged [6]. As the role of organizational design has been almost completely neglected in business model innovation research [7], the process of organizational change can be one key phenomenon to better understand the nature of business model innovation. This research addresses this aspect by observing the redefinition of human role and responsibilities in organizations integrating CTs into value creation/capture process of the business. For the sake of research facilitation, this research temporally adapt the definition of business model innovation as “a new integrated logic of value creation and value capture, which can comprise a new combination of new and old products or services, market position, processes and other types of changes [8].” This shall be discussed at the end of the research.

4. Methodology and schedule

This qualitative research constitutes three phases to explore the answers to the research objective: literature reviews, field surveys and analysis.

Phase 1 - Literature reviews and identification of case studies (Sept. – Nov. 2019) This literature review phase mobilizes books, academic articles, industrial reports, news articles, and governmental publications as information sources.

This phase aims to:

  • identify new mobility services using CTs (e.g. Navette Autonome in France),
  • classify CTs used to provide mobility services,
  • clarify the definition of important concepts (e.g. Connectivity).
A short report will be made to prepare the next phase of the research.

Phase 2 – Field surveys and data collection (Dec. 2019 – February 2020) Field surveys will be conducted to make detailed case studies of selected projects identified in Phase 1.

The managers and field operators will be interviewed to understand:

  • what kind of human interventions are still required to provide the mobility service,
  • why do those human interventions remain in the process,
  • what are the difference in the cognition of automation technologies in different organization having different cultural background?

Phase 3 – Analysis, documentation and preparation of seminar (March – May 2020)

After conducting field surveys, the collected data will be analyzed and discussed with the cooperation of research collaborators. Through summarizing the results in the final report, the final seminar will be prepared.

5. Comparative and exploratory research

This research is a comparative research between cases in France (or in Europe) and in Japan. This research is an exploratory research so as to address relevant issues to the research objective.

Comparative research

The research also aims at highlighting the social acceptance and credibility towards automation technologies that vary from one culture to another through the observations of integrations of CTs by different organizations in different regions (in Europe and in Japan).

Other dimensions to be explored

Apart from above-mentioned two axes: business model innovation and “human role and responsibility”, this research also aims at observing issues such as:

  • Correlation between changes in role and responsibility of human and changes in the design of the service and/or product,
  • Completion of business model innovation and inappropriate (sometime illegal) activities due to lack of appropriate infrastructure or clearly defined regulation (= regulatory grey area),
  • Diminution of the boundary between personal mobility and public transportation.


[1] McFarlane, D. C., & Latorella, K. A. (2002). The scope and importance of human interruption in human-computer interaction design. Human-Computer Interaction, 17(1), 1-61.

[2] Sarter, N. B., & Woods, D. D. (1992). Pilot interaction with cockpit automation: Operational experiences with the flight management system. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 2(4), 303-321.

[3] Haight, J. M., & Kecojevic, V. (2005). Automation vs. human intervention: What is the best fit for the best performance?. Process Safety Progress, 24(1), 45-51.

[4] Norman, D. A. (1990). The ‘problem’with automation: inappropriate feedback and interaction, not ‘over-automation’. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B, 327(1241), 585-593.

[5] Zott, C., & Amit, R. (2010). Business model design: an activity system perspective. Long range planning, 43(2-3), 216-226.

[6] Schneider, S., & Spieth, P. (2013). Business model innovation: Towards an integrated future research agenda. International Journal of Innovation Management, 17(01), 1340001.

[7] Foss, N. J., & Saebi, T. (2017). Fifteen years of research on business model innovation: how far have we come, and where should we go?. Journal of Management, 43(1), 200-227.

[8] Björkdahl, J., & Holmén, M. (2013). Business model innovation–the challenges ahead. International Journal of Product Development, 18(3/4), 213-225.

1. Wireless communication technologies such as 4G (/5G) and Bluetooth.