Keeping the Supply Chain Moving
Cloud services + consulting, supporting overseas growth of Japanese companies
Jan. 01, 2017
Many Japanese companies are setting up business in emerging countries in Asia. Expanding operations in these places requires a variety of business systems. Since 1996, NRI has been providing Global SCM Solutions that support the overseas operations of Japanese companies. When Japanese companies are able to grow their businesses in these places, it contributes to the industrial development of those countries. At the same time, market economies have become globalized to the point that a disaster occurring in a single place in one country can impact supply chains on an international level. It is for this reason in particular that when the unexpected occurs, minimizing the damage keeps supply chains moving. This is the approach NRI takes in providing IT solutions that support Japanese companies developing their businesses overseas.
Ahead of the game in providing cloud services
According to METI the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry sales from overseas affiliates of Japanese companies increased by 12.2% in 2014 from the year before. The ratio of production occurring overseas in manufacturing also hit a record high. Many Japanese companies have recently been entering emerging countries with rapidly growing economies such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, and are setting up business offices and factories.
For companies such as these to grow their business in overseas countries, it is essential to have information systems that can handle a variety of operations, from procurement to production, inventory, and sales management. For this reason, many companies are considering whether to implement integrated business systems called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which put all their necessary operations together in one package.
However, the actual implementation of these systems is not so easy. First of all, companies do not have experts in these systems at their overseas offices. Even if they were able to send in system personnel from Japan, those people would not be knowledgeable in the local operations, circumstances, and languages. There is also the matter of who supports the system that was implemented, and in what way. Efficiency in terms of cost and human productivity are also required. For Japanese companies with offices overseas, the implementation of information systems is a major issue that impacts their businesses in those countries.
For Japanese companies dealing with these issues, NRI Hong Kong has been providing Global SCM Solutions that implement, apply, and support ERP since 1996. We then began providing cloud services in the year 2000. Today, we support the operations of around 90 companies in 136 offices (as of November 2016) doing business in the China and Asia region.
Strength not only in system functionality, but also in knowledge of the local business
Deputy General Manager of NRI Hong Kong Hayato Shimono points out that the "strength of the cloud services" is one of the reasons they have been widely implemented.
"NRI began providing cloud services in the Asia region back when people were still not even aware what they were. NRI set up data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Shanghai, and from there we have been running the systems of our clients. Dealing with the costs and personnel for implementing and operating systems at overseas offices is challenging. You also need to be able to flexibly handle changes in the business environment while mitigating risks at the same time. Solutions from NRI have been widely implemented because they cater to needs such as these."
Deputy General Manager, NRI Hong Kong
Recently, many systems vendors have also begun providing cloud systems. However, people continue to choose NRI, and Mr. Shimono says the reason for this is "the strength of NRI consulting, with thorough knowledge of the local business and operations."
"We work closely with employees of NRI affiliates and local partners in each country to support our Japanese client companies all over Asia. Of course we understand the businesses of our clients, but on top of that, we look to offer them what they might need to develop their businesses in the future based on the circumstances of that country. Being in other countries, you need to be concerned about disasters, terrorism, political upheaval, and other such risks. With firsthand knowledge of the circumstances in these places, whenever something occurs we are right there to take care of it. This support approach is critically important in overseas business, and I think it is particularly why we have been able to build relationships of trust with our clients, and why they work together with us as partners."
Even when the unexpected occurs, business goes on
The large-scale floods that struck Thailand in July of 2011 left many factories inundated with water. An auto parts manufacturer client was among those affected. Mr. Shimono immediately flew to the site of the damage, joined the disaster response team at the factory, and went to work. He extracted all of the plant-related data for functions such as production planning, took steps to get a factory in Japan up and running, and supported the continuation of production.
"It really was the fact they were using cloud services that enabled us to access all their necessary data from the NRI data centers, even though their factory had been inundated. By then taking that data to other factories, they could continue manufacturing parts without any interruption."
As economies are becoming more globalized, a disaster occurring in a single place in one country can impact supply chains on an international level. It is for this reason in particular that when the unexpected occurs, minimizing the damage keeps supply chains moving. Japanese companies developing their businesses overseas need to be ready to take on such an approach. Mr. Shimono is confident that the solutions NRI provides take on a high level of responsibility in this area.
"We want to build the bridges for Japanese companies to be successful around the world." Mr. Shimono says it was with this in mind that he took on the job, with the underlying feeling that he wanted to contribute to countries all over the world through his work.
"If the services we provide help the businesses of our clients run smoothly and help the production facilities and operations grow larger, it will lead to more local employment, and the skill levels of people working there should continue to rise. If that happens, it will lead to improvements in the quality of life in these places. We hope that our information systems can help support the development of these countries and improve people's lives in any way possible."