The COVID crisis is a huge challenge for us all, both professionally and personally and many of us are going through experiences that we never thought we would just a few short weeks ago.
Yet, in our people and in the company itself, NTT DATA has massive advantages that will help us rise to these challenges.
One of the big strengths for me is that we are part of a global company, a fact that has been fantastically useful for us. I have spoken to the CEOs of our operating companies in China and Italy and taken on board the lessons they have learned – essentially, they are living in our future, they are where we will be in a few weeks’ time and to have people who have already gone through those experiences is a huge advantage.
Our leadership team have also talked to their opposite numbers in other companies to ask how we can help the Public Sector, for example, or Telecoms or Automotive clients.
They have also had an input on how we can help our teams work better together, despite being physically apart.
This has paid great dividends, helping us continue to deliver for clients by boosting our team morale and keeping us effective. Because teamwork is one of our values, this works beautifully and we are making an effort to maintain teamwork more than many other companies. When speaking to clients and other NTT operating companies, many are amazed at the number of activities we do to help people adjust to the new circumstances and keep together - cooking lessons, cocktail making demos, quizzes, early morning yoga sessions.
And where before we had virtual team meetings once a month, we now have them once a week.
I mentioned that teamwork is one of our values. The crisis may seem to many like a big disruption and that it undermines their values and the way they operate but for us at NTT DATA, the opposite is the case. The new situation we find ourselves in is a chance to underline and strengthen our values.
For example, our major value is ‘Clients First’ - we exist to make our clients great and we know that our clients have never needed our help more than now. I have contacted the CEOs of our clients with an email check in message, just to say ‘thank you for your business, and we are one team working together to get through this.’
We have also used our other values as the basis of practical help.
Take our values of Innovation and Foresight. In week one of the lockdown, we got in touch with Microsoft. We knew companies were not ready for Microsoft Teams, so we worked with them to give Teams free for six months, which would help both Microsoft and the economy.
With remote working in hand, we turned to security, another major concern for clients with so many staff working remotely. Working with FirstWave, we were able to offer three months free access to an industry leading, cloud-based, end-point security solution.
As well as the business aspects, we mustn’t lose sight of the effects on people. My first priority is that everyone in the NTT DATA family is feeling safe.
With people working at home there is a tendency to start work earlier and finish later, making it a challenge to maintain a work-life balance - we need to maintain a social sanity, doing something that is not work.
We also need some time for self-reflection and perhaps to think of those we know who have been most deeply affected.
As we come out of the worst of this crisis, we may find things have changed in many ways, that we are living in a ‘new normal’. Meetings by video conferences may be much more common than before and there may be less international travel.
On a personal level too, we may find that we have come closer together – I have been video calling friends and have been wondering why I haven’t done it more often before.
The pandemic puts major difficulties in our path, but it is also our chance to shine. At NTT DATA, our role is to help our clients to get out of this difficult situation but more generally, we can focus on our friends, our family and society - the crisis is our opportunity to make a difference in this world.