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NTT Ltd. exec talks hybrid cloud, remote tech

NTT Ltd.'s recently appointed Americas CEO talks about the $3 billion-plus business's opportunities one year after parent NTT Corp. created the operation in a sweeping merger.

Simon Walsh, three weeks into the job as CEO of NTT Ltd.'s Americas business, is setting his sights on SaaS data integration, telemedicine and remote work technology, among other opportunities.

Walsh oversees a $3 billion-plus technology services organization with 5,000 employees and a geographic reach that stretches from Canada to Chile. NTT's Americas operation is part of NTT Ltd., an $11 billion London-based company launched in July 2019. Parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Japan's telecom giant, has brought together 31 previously separate NTT companies under the NTT Ltd. banner. Merged companies range from multibillion-dollar systems integrator Dimension Data, which was acquired in 2010, to SAP managed services specialist Symmetry, which was acquired last year.

Simon Walsh, CEO for the Americas at NTT Ltd. Simon Walsh. Credit: NTT Ltd.

Walsh joined NTT Ltd. from another global tech services firm, Atos, where he was CEO for North America. Moving to a new company often inspires a degree of nervousness, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic provides an additional level of uncertainly. But Walsh said he is encouraged thus far, citing the organization's long-term investment approach and resources that include a venture fund and a research and development group.

"I'm feeling quite upbeat at the moment," he said.

SaaS data integration

Walsh said he sees large enterprises pursuing "a high degree of hybrid cloud" and needing to build proficiency in gluing together cloud-based and in-house systems. As part of that push, customers are looking for a "common service experience" across multiple SaaS providers, he said.

That objective, however, doesn't involve integrating the SaaS software itself, Walsh said. Instead, the key task is extracting data from the SaaS providers and integrating it across an enterprise's applications and processes. Once extracted, the SaaS data can be housed in a data lake, which enables the integration of SaaS providers, public cloud providers and customers' private systems, he said.

The big picture of hybrid cloud integration, however, also encompasses data from clients' applications, regardless of the cloud in which the data resides, Walsh said.

The hybrid cloud is an acceleration of opportunities for us.
Simon WalshCEO for the Americas, NTT Ltd.

"The hybrid cloud is an acceleration of opportunities for us," he said.

Other cloud openings for the technology service provider include the creation of software-enabled dynamic networks, which will serve as the foundation for hybrid environments, Walsh added.

"In our experience hybrid cloud networks have a strong dependency on software-defined data centers and software-defined networks," he said. "Having an optimized SDN infrastructure in place to access data -- whether in the cloud, on prem or hybrid -- is critical to cloud adoption and clients' overall experience.

 Healthcare vertical IP

Walsh also sees potential in tapping NTT Ltd.'s healthcare-related intellectual property (IP). He cited developments in telemedicine and healthcare personalization as examples of technologies advancing toward ready-to-market status.

"We are seeing an opportunity for our investment in those two [technologies]," Walsh said, noting that the critical step is staying close to clients to make sure its IP addresses their business needs.

"My objective is to take our IP, ensure it is relevant to our customers, collaborate with other technology firms as needed and help our customers really exploit technology for the betterment of citizens, society and companies," Walsh said. 

One example of NTT's healthcare IP is Smart Patient Monitoring, which uses converged video surveillance and enhanced clinical care team communication workflows, he said. He noted the offering can help eliminate the need for one-on-one staff-patient observation.

Remote work technology

NTT Ltd. also sees growth in collaborate-from-home and distributed-contact-center technologies, developments the pandemic and associated remote work trend necessitated.

Customer experience drives the latter trend, according to Walsh. He said the lockdown of cities around the world affected major hubs for offshore contact centers. When employees went home to work, some locations suffered from inadequate telecommunications infrastructure. Customers, in response, are bringing contact centers back onshore, using distributed, home-based workforces and making use of technologies such as chatbots to help with the customer experience.

 "We will see increasing numbers of contact centers with workforces working from home," Walsh said.

The adoption of collaboration tools, chatbots and omnichannel engagement strategies are on the rise -- all of which could generate business for service providers like NTT Ltd. Walsh cited "an incremental spend going into these technology changes that are pivotal to delivering the new working environment."

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