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Fujitsu gets ready to eat its own dogfood as company-wide digital transformation project kicks off

Project 'Fujitra' includes One ERP project to rule 'em all: What could go wrong?

Japanese computing veteran Fujitsu is embarking on a company-wide digital transformation, including a particularly complex-sounding piece of work to standardise operations using a single system for business processes, data, and IT.

The company gave a little insight into the planning at a management meeting back in August, when it said that it wanted to be its "customers' best partner in digital transformation, and to that end we are further focusing on enhancing our talent and organisation".

Dubbed Project Fujitra, the group-wide effort has exec-level buy-in, with CEO and chief digital transformation officer (CDXO) Takahito Tokita and Yuzuru Fukuda, the firm's CIO and deputy CDXO, overseeing things.

Fujitsu said the initiative will encompass a "complete reevaluation and shift in business processes, organisations and corporate culture, in addition to products, services and business models".

The pace of digital transformation accelerated in 2020. Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said in April, for example, that he'd seen two years' worth of transformation in two months since lockdown measures were introduced as businesses adapted to new ways of working. Cloud and other services that helped facilitate this move continue to flourish. Fujitsu has none of its own cloud services in Europe but resells services for Microsoft and AWS.

The goal of the transformation, said Fujitsu, is to represent vital challenges in management and at an operational level, "ranging from the creation of new business, the growth of strategic business, and the enhancement of profitability of existing business to the standardisation and streamlining of various internal processes, talent management and working environment."

A budget of 100 billion JPY (£731m) will be funnelled into the project. When CEO Tokita first spoke of digital transformation in August, he mentioned a budget of some 500 to 600 billion JPY over the next five years.

In addition to the CEO and CIO serving as "project owner" and "project leader" respectively, digital officers from 15 corporate and business units, as well as five overseas regions, will be appointed and "responsible for promoting reforms across divisions".

The office of transformation was itself only established on 1 October by Fujitsu.

Part of the project's focus, the company said, will be to "transform rigid corporate cultures", including the current setup of divisions based on industry verticals. The aim is to "continuously adapt to the constant changes in society", Fujitsu claimed.

The plan is to promote digital transformation training to all 130,000 employees, though whether that is necessary is another point.

System of a down

Perhaps the most challenging piece of tech work in Project Fujitra is the intent to consolidate systems.

"By standardising global and group-wide management, business processes data and IT on a single system, the ability to grasp operational status and make forecasts of future conditions will be a reality, and real-time actions based on the latest data and optimisation of operations will become possible at all levels from management to the field."

The flip side of pinning all these internal processes on a single platform is risk: all-encompassing ERP projects of this scale and magnitude arerare these days and highly complex.

CIO Fukuda moved from SAP in April so it is more than possible that the German-based ERP giant will feature in the project. "One Fujitsu covers all major operations, and as the first initiative, the company will start [One ERP Project] in corporate operations," the company said.

This will integrate financial accounting, procurement, and logistics to name a few areas.

Fujitsu said it will also create a "common digital service" that sits across the business and collates feedback from customers and staff. It will be used to "collect and analyse quantitive and qualitative data frequently" and decisions will be based on this. The hope is that Fujitsu will "understand issues and sign of change" to make more informed decisions.

In the year ended 31 March 2020 [PDF], Fujitsu reported revenue of 3.85 trillion JPY (£28bn), down 2.4 per cent but an operating profit of 211.48 billion JPY (£1.5bn), up 28.6 per cent, in part lifted by cost-cutting measures.

The Register asked Fujitsu to answer questions related to its digital transformation but after weeks of waiting, the organisation told us today it has not had time to answer them. ®

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