One of the world’s largest IT companies, Fujitsu employs around 170,000 employees and offers a wide range of technology products and services to major public and private companies.
They’ve been operating in Northern Ireland for over three decades now, serving many of the leading companies based here. Major public sector clients include the Northern Ireland Department of Justice, the Northern Ireland Courts Service, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and Northern Ireland Water.
The company first came to Derry in 2007, following the establishment of branches in Belfast and Antrim. “As a company we are constantly looking for talent and Derry offered us a great opportunity to broaden our base,” Greg says. “The Japanese way is to put down deep roots in a country. They believe that if you build an international business on local business with deep roots you will be successful. With the expansion in Derry, we’re deepening that commitment.”
The initial core functions at Timber Quay had been infrastructure management and application management (basically managing clients’ servers and operating the software). With this huge new investment, Fujitsu will be adding business service to their offering.
Why Derry? “It’s partly because of the highly skilled and motivated local workforce, as well as the advanced telecommunications infrastructure in the region,” Greg says. “Recruitment in Derry has been very productive so far. We are delighted with the investment we have made in Derry and the quality of people we have and it’s proved to be a really good thing for us.”
Location no longer depends on proximity to customers. The IT industry has changed dramatically over the years, Greg says. “In the past you would put people in data centres and just physically install servers. Today, with virtualisation and enterprise management tools you can create servers anywhere in world.”
Greg believes that for major companies looking to expand, the first question should be “why Northern Ireland?” not whereabouts they locate here. “We shouldn’t look at this in a provincial sense,” he says. “Derry and Belfast are not competing with each other. We have to think globally, it takes our combined strength to compete on the international market.”
“This Business Services Centre will now form an important part of our overall strategy to achieve business growth in this region,” Greg says. “That will include various critical business support roles in areas such as finance, project management, procurement and human resources.”
“So, we’re looking to get people with the right skills rather than establish centres near our supply base. You don’t need to be physically next to the customer anymore.”
“On a world scale Northern Ireland is competitive but it’s not down to cost. It’s true that the cost base is lower here than, say, London, but we are not a low wage economy in terms of our real competitors, countries such as India, Singapore, Poland, Russia and Portugal.”
“Where we score is on quality,” Greg says. “We have a generally high level of education and a high quality workforce. We also have an excellent communications structure here.”
Obviously, speaking English, the language of business around the world, is a big plus too. So, Greg believes, is job loyalty. “There is a culture here of people staying in their jobs, perhaps twice as long as people in England, for instance. That’s a very important factor. There’s a 45% turnover on the sub continent, for instance, where people tend to only stay around two years. How can you manage a complex ten-year infrastructure project if people only last two years?”
Another major incentive is the reliability and quality of our infrastructure. “Why would people put their companies or their government department’s reputation on the line with offshore services?” Greg asks. “You would want them going to people who know what they’re doing and are doing it at a good cost. We do that. That means we can also do complicated things here with high-risk profiles which are critical.”