authors Staff Reports
NTT Data executives on Monday morning said they will build an innovation and digital delivery center at the Capitol View development downtown. The Fortune 500 company plans to hire 350 people for its local operation. Here, Dan Albright, its senior vice president of consulting, provides some perspective on what brought the company here and talks about its growth.
How many other cities did you consider in addition to Nashville? And what were the deciding factors that brought you here?
We have expanded rapidly as a global digital and IT services leader in recent years — and considered a variety of great cities, beginning our search with about 15 locations. We quickly narrowed that down to three. Through the last six months, we looked at where to recruit the brightest talent that would best serve our clients.
We picked Nashville because it’s a central location among all of our other hub cities and because it’s an exciting place to live and work. Our key criteria included: a close proximity to our clients; a place that was a dynamic tech leader that raised NTT Data’s profile; a “destination city” that attracted talented college graduates; a robust university system; easy travel access, attractive cost of living and IT salaries and the support of local, regional and state officials.
While we intend to serve many of our global and national clients out of our Nashville center, we are also excited about the opportunity to serve Tennessee- and Nashville-based clients. We have significant manufacturing capabilities and a robust health care practice that aligns with the impressive health care footprint in the region.
The vibrant and authentic culture of Nashville make it a great place to start your career and life. From the low taxes and the ample opportunities to get involved in the community to the hot chicken and world-class music scene, Nashville has it all.
We have local ties to the community and we are the title sponsor of IndyCar, which is coming to Nashville in August with the inaugural Music City Grand Prix.
Of the 350 people you expect to hire, how many do you think will be moving here from elsewhere?
It will likely be a mix of talent streams. We definitely want to tap into the local tech talent — a major reason we chose the city. We will probably have a handful of existing NTT Data employees transfer who are excited about opening a center here. A big focus will be bringing in “emerging talent” — college hires and recent graduates with one to three years’ experience.
Part of that vision consists of hiring from Tennessee universities as well as surrounding states. The lure of Nashville will allow us to pull in recent grads from across the U.S. We will have a true melting pot of talent with a significant local talent pool of dynamic professionals.
Nashville is a growing tech magnet and has been ranked No. 3 as a top emerging tech hub by RentCafe and a top 20 city for tech jobs by Time. We will focus on attracting and retaining top local talent to support the development of market-leading skills within the digital transformation technologies and consulting sectors.
How has the pandemic affected the timing of this expansion? Were you initially planning to make this move earlier or later?
In the midst of the pandemic, and as we continued to grow to meet client needs in our new world, we pivoted quickly to identify the best home for a thriving innovation center. Knowing the crisis would eventually subside, we wanted to build a dynamic location to attract employees eager to join our team, showcase our technology to clients and work together safely while driving innovation across industries.
Tech has flourished during the pandemic and has helped us grow into a $4 billion digital business and IT services leader. As part of our rapid expansion, we were on an aggressive search for the best location for our innovation center and needed to move fast.
What are the biggest trends driving your business in the key health care and manufacturing sectors?
Looking specifically at manufacturing first, prior to COVID, the ongoing trade tensions with China, renegotiation of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and the looming trade implications of Brexit in the U.K. was already impacting manufacturing, with companies re-evaluating when and where they produced goods as well as their global supply sources. As part of this process, significant attention was placed on operational forecasting and planning. We expect to see these trends continue with a slight refocus from planning to execution.
In health care, we have seen mergers of providers, insurance and retail/pharmacy companies creating health care ecosystems. A convergence forced us to rethink how these companies interacted with us (digital front door) as well as how the industry enabled a diverse workforce (workforce modernization).
Regardless of industry, a shift to all things digital was underway. The initial focal point was harnessing data for intelligence and leveraging automation so critical workforce talent could focus on patients and customers.
To achieve digital objectives, we spent time helping our clients navigate how best to modernize what they had, how to migrate to the cloud for future growth and how to strategically rethink their operating models.
How has COVID affected those trends?
The pandemic has forced health care and manufacturing companies to rapidly adjust to massive swings shifting between demand surges to rapid declines and vice versa. This is a dilemma other industries like retail and logistics have also faced in the past year. The impact COVID has had within these industries and across companies is also uneven with both positive and negative impacts.
However, the demand for change is equally important to all. COVID has accelerated the need to modify delivery models to patients and customers, modify workforce engagement and how each of us conducts our day-to-day roles.
Further, data intelligence is a must. This last year has demonstrated that the reliance on historical company data has significant limitations when faced with unexpected peaks, valleys and challenges. Better access to data and improved analytical tools that incorporate both company data and intelligent external data is a must have capability in today’s digital world.