Sharath Burla, CEO of NTT Data Business Solutions APAC, and Geuko Bosker, senior advisor to the CTO of NTT Data Corporation, discuss the importance of h...
Originally a part of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation, NTT Data has been an independent business since 1989, focused on developing ultra-scale IT systems. In 2005, the corporation set its sights on becoming a global IT innovator, embarking on a series of expansions, mergers, and acquisitions. In 2009, it acquired itelligence AG and Extend Technologies Pty Ltd, combining them to form NTT Data Business Solutions. Over the past ten years, NTT Data Business Solutions has grown to more than 10.000 and to 27 countries globally, focussed specifically on providing for customer needs centred around SAP solution portfolio.
Sharath Burla, CEO of NTT Data Business Solutions APAC, explains, “the way the company has grown is through value creation and a rich history of self-transformations.” NTT Data is in its 29th year of revenue growth. Since acquiring SAP re-seller and IT service provider itelligence in 2009, NTT Data has grown phenomenally, from 32,000 employees and 80% of business practice based in Japan to more than 125,000 employees and over 65% of business based outside of Japan. With a strong focus on key client-first, foresight, and teamwork values, NTT Data embraces its Japanese heritage as a trusted global innovator. “At Business Solutions, we use a combination of SAP and non-SAP solutions,” explains Burla. “To an extent we are technology agnostic.” As a Platinum SAP partner, Business Solutions is a market leader, delivering S/4 HANA Implementation and Transformation projects globally. “We work closely with SAP not only to deliver SAP solutions, but also to build our own unique industry-specific IT solutions,” he adds.
Adding value is extremely important to the corporation. Burla brings with him 12 years’ experience in tech, with a focus on growing companies, while Geuko Bosker worked at itelligence for 16 years before entering his current role as senior advisor to the CTO of NTT Data Corporation. “Our tagline is ‘we transform trust into value’,” states Burla, “We’re developing our teams to be more market relevant and lead client conversations, acting as the trusted advisor to our customers.” This is especially important in a world driven by digital transformation. “The customer drives the change. They want us to help them define themselves,” explains Burla. With customers more informed about their tech needs now more than ever, knowledge is a highly valuable currency at Business Solutions. It aids the knowledge acquisition path by implementing high-end training, tools, and customer engagement programmes. “Gone are the days when we push our solutions and products,” says Burla. “Now, it’s about taking a step back, understanding what the client is going through, their challenges, their desired outcomes and then looking at our solutions to determine what added value we can bring.”
Digital transformation has forced Business Solutions to re-evaluate internal processes. Projects that previously took two years from blueprint to implementation are being broken up into smaller pieces through design thinking and Agile methodology. “We used to have a project manager focussed on a specific budget and deadline,” says Bosker, “Now, we’re looking into continuous programme management with smaller Agile sprints rather than project-based management.” Tech plays a role as well. NTT Data’s DevOps platform, Altemista, and its low-code, no-code solution CAD (Cognitive Assisted Development) helps developers execute projects efficiently. Meanwhile, its research and development (R&D) team is looking into increasing both workflow efficiency and customer experience through Digital Managed Service solutions. Businesses practices are constantly updated in line with customer expectation. “People are important. They cement the binding of what we want to do moving forward,” affirms Burla. Establishing governance in the face of global expansion is one of the most difficult tasks for a multinational company. “Bringing everyone up to speed, despite all of our investments, continues to be a challenge.” Burla says, “It’s not easy to form that cohesive, collaborative, innovative, high-performing team we are looking for.” To combat this, Business Solutions provides methodologies, guidelines, and training that are mandatory across the board. Currently, NTT Data is also rolling out NTT Data Knowler, a knowledge platform based around ontologies, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI).
Automation and AI are an important tech avenue for the company. “People are still looking for the right angles in the pursuit of AI,” says Bosker. “You need to either train people or actually find the right talent to implement it successfully.” Bosker sees this as an opportunity. As a global company, NTT Data can attract a talent pool that most of its customers can’t. “Some of the R&D assets we are currently focusing on are to be deployed internally first,” states Bosker. “Although we intend to sell these solutions in the future, it’s important to digitalize our own processes and enhance our workforce to ensure we actually have enough resources to keep up with the work our growth is developing. This guarantees we can create the highest value for our customers, ensuring on-demand support for every single one of them in the future.”
According to Bosker, digital transformation has encouraged companies to reconsider employee relationships. The focus, he says, is on finding the right employees and keeping them in-house. Business Solutions uses a design-thinking model to be able to deliver on customer demands. The implementation of this model is aided both by cross-training employees across the company and through its leadership choices. “This is what we call a digital workplace,” says Bosker. “It’s around making all the knowledge we have available to our people and ensuring everyone can collaborate and communicate with each other, anytime, anywhere.” This is something NTT Data is embarking on from an R&D level as well, from virtual reality meeting rooms that have real-time language translation capabilities to the worldwide implementation of Succesfactors, which supports HRM processes around employee retention and long-life learning concepts.
“It’s about taking a step back, understanding what the client is going through, their challenges, their desired outcomes and then looking at our solutions to determine what added value we can bring” - Sharath Burla, CEO of NTT Data Business Solutions APAC
Looking to the future, NTT Data Business Solutions continues to experience significant growth in the APAC region, having completed acquisitions in Indonesia and Thailand as part of its plan to scale into the Indochina market. By industrialising its industry templates, best practices, and repeatable solutions, the company minimises the risk traditionally associated with transformative processes. Business Solution’s five focal points are customer experience and intelligence, employee experience and intelligence, financial intelligence, business intelligence, and systems intelligence. Its 2020 global plan outlines goals to help it expand its marketplace footprint. One of these is increasing workplace diversity and inclusion, ensuring the world within the company looks like the world without and championing female leaders. “We want to cross-pollinate our systems, our leadership and our talent,” affirms Burla. As a market leader in utilising SAP portfolios to help customers achieve intelligent enterprise, Business Solution’s sights are firmly set on achieving continuous growth over the next few years, both for itself and for its customers.