Organizations need to invest in digital technologies to meet the challenges of constant disruption.
Disruptions have always been a factor in business, but lately they have become the constant norm. From work and travel to social interactions, customers expect disruption everywhere. Over the past few years, companies have embarked on digital transformation journeys to build the capacity to respond effectively to ongoing change, but the pace of transformation had been slow – until the pandemic. Organizations today have undergone digital transformation at a rapid pace and continue to take steps to digitize their operations. However, those who were slow to adapt suffered losses.
The pandemic and the many associated changes have had tragic consequences globally, but organizations that have embraced digital transformation have found major benefits. One of the biggest changes came in the form of working from home, as offices were forced to close. Even so, employees were able to stay productive from home. Today, employees want to work for flexible organizations, although less than a third of companies say they are very prepared to deal with workforce and workplace disruptions, according to NTT DATA Innovation Index research report. The need for hybrid or even fully remote workplaces has changed the way businesses operate, and that change is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
ETBrandEquity spoke with Ankur Dasgupta, Vice President for Marketing, Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) India/APJ at NTT DATA Services. The conversation focused on how businesses can continue to maintain touchpoints in their ecosystems in this rapidly changing digital world that is still reeling from unprecedented disruptions such as the pandemic.
Q) How does NTT DATA operate in the new normal? What is your new generation model?
NTT DATA was already undergoing digital transformation when the pandemic was first declared. When the whole world struggled to switch to the remote workforce, we were ready to make substantial changes to the way we did business. Within two weeks of the declaration of the pandemic, we moved over 40,000 employees to remote work. It was an incredible test of our ability to move with unprecedented speed and urgency on an enormous scale.
We were already helping forward-thinking clients on their digital transformation journey, and quickly helped them adopt remote models as well. NTT DATA is always developing its organic capacity for innovation. In fact, we recently acquired Vector shape to develop our digital strategy, innovation and design capabilities in addition to Nexient and Hashmap, which support NTT DATA’s strategy to be the preferred digital partner in the market by providing proactive innovation, thought leadership and excellent delivery.
We bring all of these capabilities together to help maximize organizational capabilities, empower employees, and help clients create superior customer and employee experiences. That’s what we did with our own workforce. It’s really personal for us! For example, our sales force had to instantly deal with travel bans, international border closures, and 100% remote and virtual work. By adapting to remote and digitized working, we have actually improved our engagements on a more substantial level. We had more frank discussions and fewer presentations. This led to very good business performance, even though all of our interactions were virtual. There have been several instances over the past two years where we have won very large contracts without ever having met the client in person.
NTT DATA wants employees to be emotionally invested in the company so that together we can realize our mutual full potential. We are in a company that values people, their preferences, their intellect and their emotions. We’ve made sure to engage all of our employees in virtual development engagements as well as the right balance of fun activities and virtual sessions on mental health, motivation, yoga, meditation, and fitness, among others. . Even now – when many companies are talking about an urgent need to relocate their employees to physical office environments – we have announced internally that we are implementing a hybrid workplace model in the hope that most employees will primarily continue to work remotely. Of course, we intend to comply with customer requests and government requirements in particular locations, but overall we envision a hybrid model.
Q) What strategies do you have in place to maintain existing customer relationships and establish new ones as well?
The pandemic has accelerated the demand for IT modernization and digital transformation. It was an opportunity for us to support our customers in three main areas: enabling our customers to work remotely while continuing to offer excellence, and helping our customers imagine and adapt to new models. innovative digital economies. We have undertaken various digital initiatives, including breakthrough automation and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to improve our customer experience.
We’ve expanded our global digital offerings, increased spending on data security, increased asset migrations to the cloud, and enabled remote working. To deliver additional value to our customers in a modernized environment, we have tailored customer strategies and supported them, based on their regional needs.
By celebrating milestones, rolling out regular Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSATs), and hosting quarterly business reviews and virtual town halls, we tested strategies and pursued the most effective methods to help our sales and support teams. delivery to discover and respond to changing customer needs and priorities.
Q) In the world of offline limitation, how do you bring social impact and sustainability to your employees?
The past two years have taught everyone important lessons – that being physically present to get results isn’t always necessary. Many companies (including ours) have seen their productivity and bottom line return in spades when we have adapted to a 90% remote workforce. Keeping employees safe and helping to provide much-needed support to those who need it most remains a priority for us. The shift to virtual volunteering options was also crucial.
We met many of the recommendations from our CSR partners, which required immediate attention during the peak period of the pandemic, including a cumulative contribution of $3 million (US) from NTT Group to alleviate the crisis in India. Also, on the ground here in India, our team culture has made a huge difference in our overall response. For example, when migrant workers were stranded and at risk of starvation, countless team members took personal initiative to work with local authorities to obtain permission to go out and provide people with food. in need.
Another good example happened on the other side of the world. In North Texas, NTT DATA supported a local peanut butter drive to ensure no child went hungry in a 10,000 square mile area, and we created a safe environment for every volunteer who donated his time in addition to money and real peanut butter. More recently, NTT Group donated $2.5 million for humanitarian aid in Ukraine and neighboring countries, and NTT made international calls to Ukraine for free.
When it comes to environmental sustainability, the pandemic has shown everyone an important lesson. During the shutdowns, as traffic dropped drastically and many factories closed, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in many cities actually reached healthy levels! This tells us that it is not too late to change the fate of the planet, but governments, businesses and society as a whole must take action to ensure that we can continue to grow national economies. and global in an environmentally sustainable way. Accelerating hybrid working models is an important step. For further, NTT DATA has joined the Green Software Foundation to help society achieve carbon neutrality, and NTT Group is committed to being carbon neutral by 2040.
It’s remarkable how sustainability efforts and hybrid working models also help us create more flexible work policies, improve employee experiences, and support talent acquisition and retention – of course in parameters of what local jurisdictions will allow.
Q) As a conscientious organization, what are your challenges and strategies for the future?
NTT DATA has a long-standing commitment to leveraging IT innovations and global business to contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable society. Our CSR efforts improve our local and global communities through forward-thinking educational, technological and economic philanthropy. For 2022-2023, we are primarily focusing on these six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as defined by the United Nations: zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth. , and climate action.
We see the challenge of virtual employee engagement in CSR as a welcome opportunity to use digital technology to transcend logistical and geographic barriers, which should allow us to drive even more engagement.
Moreover, when we talk about CSR, we consider this commitment as a corporate citizen of India and the world at large. Digital transcends all borders. Likewise, CSR activities should reach everyone who needs help.
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