Companies today face a new world. Even the largest corporate behemoths are fretting over shifts in consumer preferences, the competitive landscape, and the next shock. For many firms, COVID-19 was a wake-up call. Now, they’re taking nothing for granted and are racing to seize every advantage.
Japanese giant Fujitsu is no exception. The 86-year-old technology company, whose 126,000-strong workforce operates in countries across the globe, has been on a mission to revamp itself under two separate but related programs: Fujitsu Transformation (Fujitra) and Fujitsu Uvance.
The former is focused on internal transformation and the latter on external-facing lines of business. Both aim to leverage Fujitsu’s strengths in IT to provide best-in-class solutions.
Embracing culture change
In many ways, Fujitra is a mindset shift, says Yuzuru Fukuda, Fujitsu’s chief information officer. Companies that succeed in the future must stay one step ahead of new definitions and realignments in various sectors, he notes.
“What is this thing we call IT?” he asks rhetorically. “Are we sure this ‘industry’ will exist 10 years from now?”
Fujitra draws from long-standing precepts in corporate and management theory, particularly agile and design thinking. Fukuda describes a working archetype for a traditional company under the framework of plan, do, check, act (PDCA).
The PDCA model helps companies excel in their pre-existing, well-established areas of expertise. This creates a well-oiled machine that can thrive largely on its own momentum. “Everything in the company is optimized to keep this cycle going,” Fukuda explains. “It’s completely natural, because that’s where profits come from.”
To keep up with external pressures, however, a new kind of cycle must be implemented: observe, orient, decide, act (OODA). This framework emphasizes learning from failure and iterating rapidly.
Under OODA, rules are adapted to suit the environment, and individuals are empowered to work autonomously toward a collective goal. OODA typically drives fast-growing startups in the Silicon Valley mold. “OODA wears jeans while PDCA wears a suit and tie,” Fukuda sums.
For a company as large and prominent as Fujitsu, it’s not a matter of one cycle displacing the other. Both must coexist in order to maintain stability in operations while creating a fertile environment for future growth. As part of this rethink, Fujitsu is unifying processes across regions and departments.
A key pillar of design thinking is giving employees a voice to surface their own vision for change that can be experimented and iterated upon in the fail-fast OODA mindset. The Now Platform® provides a perfect platform to do exactly that.
And Fujitra’s employee satisfaction is on the rise. Fujitsu internal survey results show growth both in acceptance of the company’s transformation among staff over time and in evangelism—what Fukuda calls “promoters.”
“We saw an increase in promoters from 20% to 42% and a decrease in detractors from 20% to 7.5% from this time last year to six months ago,” he says.
Shrikant Vaze, an India-based vice president in executive management and global delivery, emphasizes the noticeable positive change in working processes. Several years ago, he says, requests involving personnel, IT, or systems management were “frustrating and time-consuming.” That’s no longer the case.
“I can now work my own way, anywhere and anytime I wish or need to,” adds Stephen Isherwood, a UK-based employee in global marketing.
“I am noticeably more productive and have more time on my hands,” Isherwood continues. “For example, I recently had to visit my aged parents to help them out at short notice. Not only could I stay connected with work, but I was able to ensure my team was supported and the work flowed uninterrupted. This really is a quantum leap in the way I can work.”
Enabling citizen development
Part of the success entails embracing a low-code culture that allows employees without computer science experience to build applications on their own. “As our way of working and way of interacting were changing, employees were saying, ‘We can’t simply stay where we are,’” Fukuda notes.
The challenge in this paradigm shift is to strike a balance between implementing a solution quickly to work out problems on the fly and mulling over the implications of implementing a solution only once the right path becomes clear. Finding the best way to thread this needle is a journey. Fukuda says ServiceNow will be an integral part of the path forward.
Fujitsu can move toward a nimbler approach by replacing complex legacy applications with more granular services and/or an open platform, he notes. ServiceNow could also help Fujitsu gain a leg up in the war for talent. By supporting both the “jeans wearers” and “suit wearers,” the single platform can enable a consistent experience for all users, providing flexibility to support individual needs and working styles.
“If we compare our system upgrades to remodeling a house, in the past we would only unveil an entirely new house every two years or so,” Fukuda says. “Now, we can do just the kitchen or just the bathroom and then fit them together.”
Establishing the foundation
The mindset shift extends to Fujitsu Uvance, the company’s external-facing initiative unveiled in October 2021. Under the seven pillars of the program, sustainability is a key focus, particularly in the manufacturing space, where the firm has established itself as a leader in smart factory solutions.
Allowing customers to incrementally build toward their outcome and quickly realize value from their investment, rather than a long and cumbersome process of education and implementation, is the aim, Fukuda notes.
“This is not only about technology,” he says. “ServiceNow is enabling a culture change within our organization and those of our customers, empowering them to confidently move to an agile and more sustainable future.”
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