TOKYO -- Fujitsu has tapped a veteran sales official well-versed in Asian markets as its next president, embarking on a new phase of growth that targets growing information technology demand in emerging economies.
Senior Vice President Tatsuya Tanaka, 58, will replace 61-year-old Masami Yamamoto, who is credited with stabilizing business by pursuing reforms in semiconductor and other operations. Yamamoto will become chairman. The management changes, announced Monday, are scheduled for June 22.
"The biggest issue is to further advance President Yamamoto's globalization drive," Tanaka told a news conference here. "We will accelerate reforms by upholding a corporate ethos that positions the customer as the starting point."
Fujitsu generated 38% of its total sales abroad in fiscal 2013, against some 19% for NEC and 30% for Hitachi's information segment. But its foreign units tended to act independently, and groupwide cooperation was lacking.
Under a reorganization announced last April, such operations as marketing and development outsourcing were integrated across regional borders. Tanaka oversaw the region covering Asia outside Japan.
Tanaka's selection as the next chief took some by surprise. His strong ties to Japanese titans expanding abroad, including Toyota Motor, Panasonic and steelmakers, were a major factor in the decision.
Fujitsu's revenue from information technology services in Asia outside Japan came to slightly more than 120 billion yen ($1.01 billion) last fiscal year -- a sixth of that in Europe and roughly half the tally in the U.S. The company is counting on Tanaka to cultivate local Asian businesses as new customers.
Tanaka will become the first president with a sales background in the postwar period, with the exception of then-Chairman Michiyoshi Mazuka, who temporarily filled the seat when the president at the time was sacked.
"We tended to develop products that satisfied us, but from now, we will put customers first by looking at market realities," Tanaka said.
Asia is seen as a promising market for solutions in the medical and agricultural fields as well as transportation and other infrastructure. The company has a track record offering electronic medical records and farming cloud services in Asia. Fujitsu aims to ramp up such services as reducing traffic congestion by using big data.
The medium-term business plan announced last year calls for a record operating profit of 250 billion yen in fiscal 2016, up from the projected 185 billion yen for the current year through March 31. Fujitsu needs to make the shift from stable earnings to growth by figuring out how to compete with American companies Amazon.com and Google, which are expanding their turf by offering low-priced cloud services.