Building the Workforce of the Future: NEC’s SAP SuccessFactors Journey to Redefine the Employee Experience


By Claus Andresen, SVP, Head of Cloud Success Services, Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ)

In the fast-paced landscape of modern business, the ability to adapt, evolve, and embrace change is pivotal for sustained growth. Companies are at the cusp of a new digital era powered by the cloud and artificial intelligence. These businesses are looking to drive sustainable success, while embracing the new hybrid world of working and building a future-ready workforce.

NEC, a Japanese multinational information technology and electronics corporation with a 120-year history and a multifaceted array of business lines, stands at the forefront of this transformative shift, aiming to build global growth beyond their domestic market in Japan.

Building the Future Workforce: NEC's SAP SuccessFactors Journey to Redefine Employee Experience

Embracing the Global Vision

Keitaro Shigemasa, Head of Global IT, NEC

To be a global company, we need global people. Our ways of working need to turn, change, which led us to focus on managing HR and implementing SAP SuccessFactors.” Keitaro Shigemasa, Head of Global IT 

The pursuit of global expansion has become a cornerstone of NEC’s growth strategy. For Keitaro Shigemasa, Head of Global IT, the realization that global success hinges on adopting a global mindset and redefining work approaches was sobering. This led to a pioneering project focusing on managing Human Resources (HR) through the implementation of SAP SuccessFactors, emphasizing the need for cohesive global HR management.

Martin O’Donnell, Global HR Digital Leader and SAP SuccessFactors Program Director, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of anchoring any system implementation to a solid vision and strategy. NEC’s vision encompasses nurturing top talent, fostering cohesive teams regardless of geographic locations, and leveraging transformational change as a competitive advantage.

Transformative Challenges and Tangible Gains

Martin O’Donnell, Global HR Digital Leader and SAP SuccessFactors Program Director, NEC

“Transformation isn’t smooth sailing, but going in with eyes wide open ensures a more successful journey.” Martin O’Donnell, Global HR Digital Leader and SAP SuccessFactors Program Director

Navigating a transformational journey spanning 40 countries presented its own challenges. Legal compliance, data privacy, complex system landscapes, and unexpected discoveries of disparate systems posed significant hurdles. However, strong project planning, sponsorship, and an adaptable mindset were instrumental in overcoming these setbacks.

O’Donnell outlined the tangible benefits reaped from this transformative endeavor. Achieving an impressive 80-90% adoption rate post-release, the system streamlined everyday HR tasks for managers and employees, from holiday bookings to performance management. Anchored by critical business outcomes, the program’s success is measured through incremental improvements and enhanced capabilities. The financial benefits are already evident, with an expected annual saving exceeding a million dollars solely on license costs.

Evolving Partnerships and Future Outlook

“In this journey, the partnership SAP has been more than a transaction; it’s been a transformative learning experience. We’re not just adopting solutions; we’re embracing a model that shapes our own global aspirations.” Keitaro Shigemasa, Head of Global IT, NEC

The recent SAP SuccessFactors go-live in India and Singapore marked a significant milestone for NEC. Shigemasa reflected on the project’s evolution over the years, stressing the importance of partnership dynamics between NEC, SAP, and other delivery partners. Despite initial adjustments, the underlying robust relationship between NEC and SAP facilitated a smoother implementation process. Leveraging SAP’s proven solutions enabled NEC to focus on delivering value and further reinforced their partnership.

Looking ahead, Shigemasa highlighted the need to view the go-live as a starting point rather than an endpoint. NEC’s vision entails further enhancements in employee experiences, connecting HR seamlessly with other IT processes, and continuous improvement. The NEC-SAP relationship transcends the role of a mere solution provider; it serves as a model for NEC’s aspirations of global prominence. Learning from SAP’s industry best practices, which included organizational setup, communication channels, and relationship dynamics helped to shape NEC’s understanding of global operations and deliver even greater value and business outcomes while unlocking the benefits of digital transformation.

NEC’s transformative journey embodies the essence of adaptability, collaboration, and perseverance. By embracing global perspectives, fostering strong partnerships, and aligning with a business strategic vision, NEC not only navigates transformational challenges but emerges as a leader of global excellence, ready to chart new horizons in the ever-evolving business landscape, and staying future-proof with a future-ready workforce.