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Kon'nichiwa: Big IT investing in language, soft skills as Japan emerges favourite onsite market

Unlike the West, Japanese culture is different and what is considered normal in India can be construed as offensive and may even result in lost business

September 04, 2019 / 01:03 PM IST
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As IT firms turn their focus to the land of the rising sun, IT firms such as Wipro are investing in customer acquisition and soft skills such as Japanese language and culture.

Recently, India’s fourth largest IT services firm Wipro tied up with Japanese language school -- Hayakawa Japanese Language School & Cultural Centre -- to teach their employees the language and also basic dos and don’ts of its culture.

This assumes significance as Japan is slowly emerging as the favoured onsite destination for Indian engineers and also for IT companies driven by huge demand for techies in Japan and visa issues and macro-economic challenges in other geographies.

According to reports, Japan’s IT market accounts for about $340 billion and is next only to the US and China. It is no wonder that Indian IT firms are looking to tap this huge potential.

Anand Padmanabhan - President, Business Development and Strategic Sales, Wipro, told Moneycontrol in an email interaction, “Japanese organisations are now truly globalising. There is a high demand in technology outsourcing and business transformation opportunities in the Japanese IT market.”


“Japan”, he added, “is an important region for us and we will continue to focus and drive growth there.”

Though the company did not disclose the revenues from the region, Padmanabhan said some of the major Japanese companies are among Wipro’s clients.

Its subsidiary, Wipro Japan, is developing systems for connected and self-driving cars and utilising IoT (internet of things) technologies in remote medicine. Apart from automotive industry, other sectors where it sees opportunities include banking, engineering, retail and cybersecurity.

The company has also invested in dedicated language enabled offshore delivery centre and also creating a bilingual talent pool.

This includes investing in equipping its employees with the Japanese language and etiquette. “We conduct training programmes for employees to learn the Japanese language and the nuances of its culture before deploying them, thereby ensuring a comfortable environment not only for our clients, but for our employees as well,” Padmanabhan explained.

Learning the dos and don'ts

Wipro has not revealed the number of employees undergoing training at present. Apart from basic Japanese, the training also includes activities that will help employees acclimatise faster in the country. These include shopping, right usage of chopsticks and Japanese script typing using laptops.

Yuko Shimizu, General Manager, Hayakawa Japanese Language School & Cultural Centre, said, “Unlike the West, Japanese culture is different and what is considered normal in India can be construed as offensive and may even result in lost business.”

The first in the list is obviously time management, for which Indians are not exactly known for. “You should be on or before time. Even the buses and trains run on schedule. Any delay and you will lose business,” Shimizu said.

When exchanging business cards they need to be treated carefully and given the same respect you would accord the person. This means that you cannot shove it in your bag or purse like it is usually done here or you might stand the chance of offending the Japanese business personnel otherwise.

Priority is always the team rather than an individual and Indians need to pay attention to that as well.

It is hard not to miss the generous use of ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ that translates to ‘thank you’. “They use them generously and expect you to do as well,” said G Ramesh, a Japanese language teacher in the same school. The same rule follows for an apology as well.

Hierarchy is also very important in Japanese institutions and one needs to learn and respect the same when you are there.

“But most of all, even trying to speak a bit a Japanese goes a long way in building a business relationship. That is the most important of all,” Shimuzu added.
Swathi Moorthy
first published: Sep 4, 2019 01:03 pm

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