NTT Data had an extensive write up of their Vatican digital library project in the Financial Times recently, which must have pleased President Toshio Iwamoto. As he admitted in a recent interview in the Nikkei Business, despite the Vatican project, and also winning a global ERP support contract from Daimler, NTT Data’s brand is still not strong enough globally. Although the US represents the highest proportion of business for NTT Data overseas, they are still only #40 in the US systems market. Consequently, they do not get any approaches from major customers. “It’s not a problem of our technical strength, simply the challenge of getting them to knock on our door” says Iwamoto.
It takes time to build brand recognition “so we have to buy time”. By acquiring companies in Asia and Europe, NTT Data now has operations in 175 cities in 41 countries. Iwamoto wants the overseas to domestic turnover ratio of the company to be 50/50 by 2020. In 2014, overseas business was around Y400bn compared to Y1trn domestically. He expects to further increase overseas sales through acquisitions to around Y800bn in 5 years, and attain the remainder through organic growth.
“We have no intention of becoming a mini IBM or even a mini Google. We have to differentiate ourselves from them through creating our own value. This will be based on our experience in the Japanese domestic market of ‘a quality which satisfies the customer’ – a very Japanese aspect. Usually when IT systems companies say ‘quality’ they mean there are not many bugs in the software but we mean a total management of quality from sales through to the system management. Talking to our overseas employees, they say this quality will be recognised globally and that we should promote our ‘Japanese quality’. Previously, Japanese quality meant cars or consumer electronics, but now Japanese quality of service is becoming known around the world, in beauty or education, so we should be able to provide a service which cannot be replicated by local suppliers in the IT industry too.”
The interviewer asks whether the many parts of the NTT group (NTT Communications as well as NTT Data) all doing different things make it confusing for customers overseas. Iwamoto says there are historical reasons (presumably to do with government ownership) why this has happened, and that it can’t be helped. In fact it is often the case that NTT group companies even team up with other companies such as KDDI or Softbank to provide the customer with what they want. The trend is towards more open systems in the IT industry, he believes.
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