Setting sail towards organization-wide optimization - while navigating a VUCA sea

Fujitsu / November 22, 2022

Imagine each department and division in your organization as one ship in a fleet, sailing toward the same destination. It may be tempting for each of these ‘ships’ to pursue efficiency and optimization initiatives individually. After all, not every ship is built to the same specs. But a fleet is a fleet and the fate of each is tethered to the others. And that’s why Fujitsu EVP, Deputy CDPO (Chief Data & Process Officer) Shunsuke Baba insists that standardization must go hand-in-hand with optimization to reach the destination as a united force. Learn about the OneERP+ Program—the data-driven optimization approach he is piloting within Fujitsu—and get inspired to chart a course for your organization, even during times of unprecedented instability.

Better processes mean better business

Shunsuke Baba, Fujitsu’s EVP CDPO (Chief Data & Process Officer), doesn’t mince words when it comes to his assessment of the challenges that companies are currently facing. “We’re now in the VUCA(*1) era, which is characterized by change occurring at an explosive rate, with wide-ranging impacts,” he says. “For organizations that don't keep up with the speed and magnitude of shifts in the market, the game can change in an instant.”

How should organizations react to this new reality? As in the past, it is important to have a well-grounded strategy for formulating and implementing medium- to long-term plans. However, companies now also need to break down milestones to reach those goals and quickly create, execute, and provide feedback on small steps, or "Most Valuable Products" (MVPs), to determine the next step.

But even with the rapid implementation of MVPs, keeping pace with the speed and magnitude of these changes has made it increasingly difficult to react based solely on experience and knowledge. Decisions must be made based on objective data. “That’s a very hard thing to do for companies with a lot of analog tasks that depend on people,” Shunsuke elaborates. “We’re facing a situation in which companies can't survive unless they transform their structures in such a way that data is properly maintained and it is used in the decision-making process.”

(*1): A managerial acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is used to describe the many challenges that organizations face during a difficult period in time.

Simplifying over 2,000 systems to gain actionable insights

Even for a company that prides itself on being an innovator in digital transformation, this can be a daunting challenge. “Believe it or not, there are over 2,000 systems currently in operation withing the Fujitsu Group,” Shunsuke confides. “There are cases of several similar systems within a single business, each with a unique format for data storage, collection and aggregation. This makes it nearly impossible to collect the data we want immediately and could have a major impact on management decisions in a global business environment that requires speed.”

Seizing on this situation as an opportunity to make a major improvement, Shunsuke is spearheading Fujitsu’s “OneERP +” – a program to bring about data-driven management Group-wide by establishing a single system for business operations on a global basis. The ultimate goal is to completely standardize data and create a mechanism to quickly retrieve necessary data at any time.

Global Standardization through OneERP +: An unprecedented challenge for Fujitsu

“These efforts to thoroughly standardize data and streamline operations based on the resulting standardization are based on the Group's concept of ‘overall optimization’,” Shunsuke says. “On the other hand, it is also true that each group company, each region, and each department and division has individually optimized their workplace practices, and some say that it is difficult to optimize everything as a whole.”

Shunsuke understands these concerns, but believes he knows how to convince employees that this is the right way forward. “At Fujitsu, we have a corporate purpose(*2). You might think of it as the North Star guiding our actions,” he notes. “In the VUCA era, corporate management is like navigating a choppy sea. If we’re unsure about which way to steer, we can trust our North Star – our corporate purpose – and right our course.”

Thinking in nautical terms makes a great deal of sense for an organization like Fujitsu; Group companies, departments and divisions are like ships, and the entire Fujitsu Group could be badly fragmented if each ship proceeded on an individual course. Here’s how Shunsuke frames it: “Every ship has to look towards the North Star and steer its management decisions with a purpose-driven approach. From the perspective of each group company, department or division, they may feel that overall optimization is not necessarily essential. To them, I would say ‘Look towards the North Star.’ The Fujitsu Group as a whole should aim to achieve our purpose, and I strongly believe that OneERP + is what we need to get there.”

The Purpose of OneERP + : The Pursuit of Operational Excellence

A major boost for management

One obstacle to getting all ‘ships’ heading in the same direction is the misconception that the OneERP + program is just another backend IT project. That is simply not the case, Shunsuke insists. “We have adhered to the concept of ‘OneFujitsu’ for many years. I want to emphasize that this is project that is considered to be near the top of our list of priorities – in fact, all projects that start with the word ‘One’ are treated as such. OneERP + is no exception. One of the conditions attached to a Fujitsu transformation project is that the scope of the project must be global, meaning that the project is not limited to Fujitsu in Japan.”

Within Fujitsu, all ‘One’ projects must be based on the philosophy of OneFujitsu. In other words, it is important that all these projects are collaborative and help guide us along our path of digital transformation. To this end, promoting the understanding of the horizontal nature of projects such as OneERP + and OneCRM is important in strengthening Group-wide governance. Fujitsu is working to transform itself into a digital transformation company on a global level – and linking other projects with OneERP + is an important step. “This is where we stand today, and I believe it is the key to successful transformation across the entire Group,” Shunsuke concludes.

OneFujitsu Program

A model for customer success

What’s next on the horizon? “Now that all the requirements have been defined, OneERP + is currently in the execution phase,” says Shunsuke. “There is no magic in achieving great change or change in a world with many stakeholders. Rather than spending time looking for the sleight of hand, the best way is to find and solve problems one by one, by getting all parties involved on the same page. We’ve seen this approach success many times in the past.”

In this case Shusuke emphasizes that ‘all involved parties’ refers to the entirety of the Fujitsu Group. “Change is not something that only certain people participate in. It requires a team effort among all employees working together as one company. Our individual ships have all set sail to transform ourselves into a digital transformation company. My message is simple: we’re all aboard and headed in the same direction.”

Looking ahead, Shunsuke is optimistic that the knowledge gained through the implementation of OneERP + will be a catalyst for helping our customers embark on their own digital transformation journeys. The VUCA seas may be rough, but the lighthouse of digital transformation is a beacon leading organization in all industries to the safe harbor of innovation.

Shunsuke Baba
Fujitsu EVP, Deputy CDPO (Chief Data & Process Officer)

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