Jason Stamper talks to NTT DATA's Heather Moore, head of UK, and Jonathan Birch, head of infrastructure for EMEA. Up for discussion is what the IT services and consultancy firm thinks of megatrends including Big Data and cloud.
I wonder if you could start by giving readers a quick introduction to NTT DATA?
Heather Moore: The NTT Group turns over $120bn and we have about 220,000 employees worldwide. We're a global company, and our heritage started in Japan - we're the largest telecoms company in Asia and the second largest in the world. About 10 years ago NTT Group started on its international expansion strategy and acquired various companies like Docomo which gives us global mobile operator capability. NTT Communications gives us infrastructure and hosting services; Dimension Data gives us office and desktop IT services; and NTT DATA is the IT services arm of the company. We turn over about $14bn and we are 55,000 employees in 36 countries worldwide. We operate regionally so for EMEA operations, NTT DATA is headquartered in London.
Do you serve particular verticals?
HM: We're particularly strong in financial services, telecoms and public sector, but we offer the full breadth of IT services in all sectors. We're a typical systems integrator, so we have the infrastructure, service desk and service management, a strong cloud services offering, a lot of applications development and management, business intelligence, customer management, and a strong online and mobile service practice as well.
How do you feel NTT DATA is different from other IT services firms in the UK?
HM: The key thing is the way we approach the market and the way we approach our clients. Although we are a global company, the local regions have the power to make decisions so we are able to very quickly service our clients' needs. Also when we do go to market we have the ability to develop account teams where we pull in the service expertise underneath the account director so that we are very easy to engage with. In some of our competitor organisations a customer might have to deal with three or four different people for an end-to-end solution. Our account director pulls in the right expertise wherever that may be in the world.
What are the big areas for you at the moment: cloud, Big Data, social and mobile?
HM: We do it the other way around - we go in and listen to the customer and what they need, rather than trying to push a trend on them.
And what trends are you seeing in cloud?
Jonathan Birch: In cloud we're seeing demand for private cloud solutions, which in reality is managed hosting. Whilst we are seeing a growing demand for private cloud, we are seeing virtually no demand for public cloud. I think that's down to the issues with security, even in the public sector where public cloud is being pushed, we're not really seeing the demand because concerns over what happens to your data, where it's going to be and who might be able to see it. I see more demand for a private or hybrid cloud but not public.
What about Big Data, what are you seeing there?
JB: It's interesting terminology - is it anything new though? A business needs to understand their KPIs - what drives the business, what do they need to measure to perform better? They need to understand all of that before you get to the question of what you do with 'more data'. Yes there's more data, over the last five years there has been an explosion of data. But it's the right data that is important to the business, not all of the data.
The analysts talk about the three 'Vs' - volume, velocity and variety. Many companies have had large amounts of data for ever - especially in sectors like pharma and energy. So is it the variety and velocity that is new really?
JB: I think there are two things - velocity is how quickly you can pull things in. You can analyse data in real-time if you want to, but the question is why? Can you do it? Yes. Do you need to or want to? That's the question. People's time is valuable so it's got to be focused on the right things. Retailers can put all their EPOS stuff on solid state memory and analyse it which is great if you know what you want to do with it when you've got it. Fundamental to our view is the business reason to do it.
Do you see use cases where Big Data has delivered demonstrable ROI? After all, no one is writing blank cheques in the current environment?
JB: No, they're not. Rewinding, the organisations that have seen return on investment are those who understand what it is they need to know from their data that can help the organisation to be more effective. They're the only people that will get ROI, because it's not an inexpensive thing to do.