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NTT DATA, the $13-billion IT services arm of the $112-billion Japanese giant NTT Group, is leveraging its India centre to make several Japanese firms to expand globally.
The programme - Japan to Pune (J2P) - was kicked off in 2008 for NTT DATA employees. This was subsequently offered to other companies in Japan wanting to expand their global presence. Since 2011, J2P has worked with about 20 firms and trained 100 Japanese professionals on an annual basis.
NTT DATA’s Pune centre works with four-to-five companies, on an annual basis, which means training at least 100 Japanese professionals. The reason to use Pune as a centre is because it was already catering to the Japanese market with 50 per cent of its employee base conversant in the Japanese culture as well as language.
“This began with the global engineers of the company, wherein we trained them in soft skills like language, cultural aspect and understanding the global market. This was further rolled out to employees in the sales, corporate finance and others,” said Sanjay Khorate, senior director and human resources, NTT DATA Global Delivery Services.
When NTT DATA entered India by acquiring Pune-based Vertex towards the end of 2007, it was also a signal to the executives within the company that the company had global ambitions and wanted to grow inorganically. “Japanese firms are culturally rooted. So, to be able to tap into the global market, they needed the capacity and ability that would allow them to liaison in future This situation is true for several of the Japanese firms today,” added Khorate.
While the programme was initially launched for the benefit of its own employees, NTT DATA made the programme available to other multi-national companies (MNCs) in Japan towards the end of 2010. “Before the acquisition, Vertex was already catering to the Japanese market, so we had people with language capabilities and we also understood the Japanese culture and mindset,” Khorate noted.
The programme is spread over six-to-eight weeks. The curriculum not only involves making Japanese professional to be fluent in English language, but also teaching them how business is done - such as how to make a sales pitch, do project management etc. “Generally, the company tells us their problem area and we work accordingly, but the glossary is all around business context. For instance, presentations made by Japanese professional are very visual unlike in other markets, which are verbose. The sales strategy that this market follows is very different. Meetings in Japan happen to announce a decision, unlike in other countries where meetings are rounds of discussion to reach a decision,” Khorate explained.
Along with the theory, these professionals are also made to work on live projects and each of them has a ‘buddy’ who helps them get around. “Each buddy also takes them to their house and makes them experience Indian culture,” said Khorate.
The J2P programme has helped several Japanese businesses including e-commerce players and MNCs to expand their global reach.
One such instance is of a leading e-commerce player in Japan. The e-commerce players had plans to set up a development centre in India, NTT DATA helped them hire engineers from India’s engineering institute, who were then trained in Japanese language and culture. “We hired 20-25 engineers for them for almost three years; today, they have expanded their presence in several Asia-Pacific countries,” added Khorate.
NTT DATA charges about 1 million Japanese Yen per person for the programme, for which it uses four-to-five faculty members. “We have people from the industry coming and talking about business issues like sales strategy and global delivery models.”
According to Khorate, collaboration is key within the Japanese industry even if these firms compete with each other. “This programme has been taken mostly by MNCs in Japan. The good part is that now universities from Japan also want to work with us and give such exposure to their students,” he added. Last year, the Pune centre worked with one university; it is at present in talks with two more.
NTT DATA has 10,000-11,000 employees in India across Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Gurgaon and Noida. The Pune centre has 500 employees. About 70 per cent of the revenue of the Pune centre comes from Japan and 50 per cent employees are fluent in Japanese.
Correction: Due to an editing error, NTT DATA was earlier mentioned as NTT Data. The error is regretted.