Business Management

New NTT CEO drives globalisation overdrive

Despite being one of the world’s largest organisations, outside of Japan NTT is perhaps not as well known as it should be, and now the Japanese telecoms giant wants to fix that.

NTT, or Nippon Telegraph and Telephone to give its full name, was created in 1952 as the national telecoms supplier and like many state telcos was later privatised (in 1985) to foster competition. However, just as other former national incumbents found, shifting that local power base to create global reach was no easy task.

The man charged with the task of broadening NTT’s appeal is new president and CEO Tetsuya Shoji. Perhaps significantly, Shoji was in London last week for the first press conference he had given since taking over the top job a month ago.

An NTT veteran, this motor sport fanatic said it is “an interesting time to get into the driver’s seat” and that his motto derives from the great American driver Mario Andretti. “If everything seems under control you are not going fast enough. We need to press the accelerator and drive like Mario Andretti.”

Shoji’s experience across business units will be required as NTT will need to spread itself even further beyond core telecoms provisioning. However, it won’t be starting from a weak position and it does not appear to suffer from the sort of parochialism or inertia that can plague industry behemoths. NTT already serves about 80 of the world’s 100 largest organisation and it is unafraid of mergers and acquisitions. Deals such as those to bring in German security firm Integralis, Indian hosting company Netmagic, Virtela in Denver, Australian services rims Harbour MSP and Frontline, and South African ICT services company Dimension Data show it is serious about broadening its offerings and its international coverage.

Where can NTT succeed? In short, in adjacent markets such as datacentre hosting, IP backbone and network provisioning, cloud and managed services and by consolidating and orchestrating these new ICT hubs. The datacentre build-out is aggressive and Shoji pointed to new facilities all over the world including imminent moves in Spain and Indonesia, even if a UK datacentre caused him a couple of problems. “Excuse my pronunciation. For the Japanese it’s very hard to say this name ‘Hemel Hempstead’ - maybe we should have built it somewhere else,” he joked.

But he’s serious about internationalising NTT.

“If I were to summarise our goal it is to grow our international business,” he said. “It’s also true that we are much less known outside Japan where we are a household name.”

NTT wants to “reduce friction for enterprises” – in other words make it easier for companies to globalise and that will require more people on the ground everywhere to quell fears over data protection and privacy but also to have employees who understand local culture and ways of doing business.

“It’s as much people and culture as it is technology,” Shoji said. “When enterprises undertake such a project [as large-scale datacentre consolidation] they are trusting us with their reputation. We want to earn this respect.”

Of course there are plenty of other superpowers and telcos that want to become the nexus for global organisations but NTT is a huge organisation that is doing a lot of the right things. In a world where globalisation is trumping local specialisms it’s no longer enough to be “Big in Japan” and as companies reconfigure their networks and IT provisioning NTT will be an attractive option.


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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