According to Yoshihiro “Zen” Nishi, CEO of Fujitsu Americas, the pandemic has changed the way we interact with technology.
According to Yoshihiro “Zen” Nishi, CEO of Fujitsu Americas, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in many different ways, but it has been a particularly interesting period for the tech industry, as the way we interact with technology in our everyday lives has taken a significant leap forward.
Over the past year the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world of business in many different ways, but it has been a particularly interesting time in the tech industry as the demands of customers and the way we interact with technology in our everyday lives have taken a significant leap forward. For Zen Nishi, president and CEO of Fujitsu America, Inc., the crisis presented both a challenge and an opportunity.
“COVID-19 challenged every business the world over, Fujitsu included, and forced all of us to completely rethink how we operate,” Nishi told CEO Magazine in an exclusive interview. “While an unfortunate situation all around, the past year did provide valuable insights—insights that we can’t ignore going forward.”
Fujitsu Americas, Inc. is a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, the world’s largest Japanese multinational information and communications technology company, established in 1935 and headquartered in Tokyo. In 2018, Fujitsu was the world’s fourth largest IT services provider by annual revenue. It has approximately 126,000 employees and its products and services are available in over 100 countries. Fortune magazine has named Fujitsu as one of the world’s most admired companies and a Global 500 company.
According to Nishi, Fujitsu has always been at the forefront of innovation, yet there has never been a more fascinating—or challenging—time for the company, as not only technology, but also issues such as sustainability and social responsibility, shape the future of the tech industry.
“During the pandemic, our immediate goals, naturally, were to assure the health and safety of our employees and help our clients pivot quickly,” he said. “Now, we are emerging from the pandemic, having built resilience in areas like remote work, education and supply chain optimization, and shifting our attention to how we can apply what we’ve learned.”
Fujitsu offers a wide range of services, solutions and computing products. Yet for Nishi, the same company today is on the verge of a historic transformation as digitization increasingly reshapes both the business world and our everyday lives. While Fujitsu historically focused on client computing devices, servers, storage and mainframe compatible server products, its more advanced technologies have recently taken center stage.
“Fujitsu has been a world leader in tech innovation for nearly 90 years, so we have a long legacy of innovation, technology know-how and global scale,” Nishi explained. “Now, our clients need us to meet this moment, which hinges on core DX solutions such as quantum, artificial intelligence, blockchain, multi-cloud and optimization solutions. These address a growing demand for sustainable manufacturing, consumer experience, healthy living, and trusted society solutions—key spaces in which Fujitsu can add value for our customers.”
Nishi stressed the importance of the company working together with customers and partners to co-create greater value. “Our clients tell us we are a wise, yet humble, partner, never assuming we’re the smartest ones in the room,” he explained. “Our job is stand side-by-side with our customers and truly know their business and industry so we can bring to bear the right technologies, talent and capability to solve for their needs.”
“COVID-19 caused upheaval across every industry, and most companies were forced into making major changes,” Nishi elaborated. “At Fujitsu, we recognized three major trends that were worthy of our attention: firstly, urban mobility, which refers to how people, goods and services move around in a digital—and pandemic stricken—era. Secondly, the convergence of manufacturing, retail, and supply chains, and thirdly, government productivity, which ultimately benefits the taxpayer.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE
Nishi was keen to stress the importance of Fujitsu’s highly talented workforce to the ongoing success of the company in North America. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company introduced something known as the Work Life Shift.
“We took a mandated work-from-home arrangement during the pandemic and have now institutionalized it for longer term sustainability,” he explained. “We lifted the restrictions of our traditional organizational setup to maximize employees’ creativity and imagination. That’s tens of thousands of people worldwide who are now empowered by technology, tools and upper management support to work in a way that fosters their optimal performance.
“Being people-first enables your employees to be innovative, well-coordinated, and outcomes-based—creating a world where they can continuously add value, pivot from risk, and find new ways to enhance the customer experience.”
Nishi credits the many strategic partnerships Fujitsu enjoys as crucial in providing world class solutions to its customers. The Fujitsu Group builds such partnerships through the Fujitsu Global Alliance structure which boasts a representative in each international market to streamline the process of procurement and ensure the right partners for each solution.
“Our business model is strategically based on our work with partners,” Nishi emphasized. “Many of our solutions are built in collaboration with our partners, such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow and many others, so the relationships within that global partner network are extremely important. We are not just delivering partner services through accreditations and joint sales and marketing programs; we are actually working hand in hand with them to co-create and innovate, leveraging talent and resources from both organizations.”
BUILDING TRUST THROUGH INNOVATION
Ultimately, Yoshihiro “Zen” Nishi views The Fujitsu Group’s purpose as one that goes beyond merely providing products and services to being an organization that can make a real difference to society. The company’s Responsible Business policy helps them to focus and innovate around key areas including the environment, community, diversity and inclusion, employee wellness, and operating practices. The company is also aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that everything they do from a CSR and business perspective contributes to the resolution of the world’s most challenging issues.
“Globally, we have taken many steps to position our company to realize its purpose of ‘making the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation’,” Nishi elaborated. “These activities help us better align with our counterparts around the world and facilitate our ability to deliver business value to our clients. They also inspire our employees to contribute and conduct outreach events, and we provide them with plenty of opportunities to do so.”
“From the environmental perspective, we want to contribute to resolving environmental challenges for customers and society,” he added. “Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, many companies have become more focused on how they can contribute to sustainability, and I believe Fujitsu’s technology and services will continue to contribute to those goals. Our long term aim is to use our technology to fight larger societal issues such as equitable vaccine distribution, poverty and climate change.”
By Paul Imison