Introducing a De Facto Standard Information Platform for Transformation and Co-creation to Become a Company that Operates with Speed as the Business Environment Continues to Change Rapidly

Case Study: Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation

In recent years, the business environment in the ethical drugs industry has become increasingly competitive, and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation ("the Company"), a drug discovery company that operates around the world, urgently needs to transform itself. Given such circumstances, the Company formulated the "Medium-term Management Plan 2016-20." In accordance with its key concept of "Open Up the Future (of medicine)" and setting four priorities--Maximizing Pipeline Value, Strengthening IKUYAKU (Drug Fostering and Evolution) and Marketing, Accelerating U.S. Business Development, and Reforming Operational Productivity, the Company has been taking further steps to reach a new stage. Among other matters, the Company identified urgent needs to achieve growth in the U.S., the world's largest pharmaceutical market, as well as to maximize value and to enhance the Company's presence in priority products and priority disease areas; to this end, it launched work style innovation. With support from Fujitsu, which has experience and know-how in implementing internal systems on a global basis as well as deploying Microsoft Office 365 in major enterprises, the Company completed an introduction at all its bases in Japan and then North America, Thailand, and the U.K. Over the next two years, the Company will introduce Office 365 in ten additional offices in eight countries.
[May, 2017]

Overview of introduction

Business outline:
Products/services introduced:
Communication Platform (Office 365, building and deployment support services)
Scale of introduction:
Approx. 7,000 people in all locations in Japan and additional locations in three other countries
Project length:
8 months

Challenges and benefits of introduction

  1. 1Accelerating U.S. business development
    Office 365 was chosen as the de facto standard software to sustain the speed of business development in the U.S. In cooperation with Fujitsu America, U.S. implementation was achieved quickly based on specifications determined in Japan.
  2. 2Strengthening industry-academia collaboration for discovery and drug fostering/evolution
    A cloud-based system was chosen to promote industry-academia collaboration and collaboration with business partners. Speedy, efficient communication with external research institutions was realized by sharing information via web conferences and SharePoint.
  3. 3Reforming operational productivity
    Aiming to improve operational productivity by using Skype, SharePoint, and so forth, the Company adopted Office 365 as its tool. Operations were streamlined through appropriate use of conference rooms and by reducing travel expenses.

Background of introduction

De facto standard information platform essential to achieving the Medium-term Management Plan

Hiroyuki Kobayashi
Group Manager
ICT Platform Group
ICT Management Division
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation

It is no exaggeration to say that reforming operational productivity, one of the Company's four strategic priorities in its Medium-term Management Plan led by the key concept of "Open Up the Future," is instrumental to achieving said plan. To that end, work style innovation harnessing the power of ICT is essential.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Group Manager of the ICT Platform Group in the ICT Management Division, explained as follows: "While Notes, which we had used as our information platform, fit our operations due to many years of customization, we needed to provide training each time a new user had to use Notes. This made it necessary for us to change to a de facto standard tool that everyone is familiar with to some extent. Particularly in the U.S., where business must be developed quickly, our use of a unique information platform was extremely inefficient because it took time to train users. Also, due to the smaller number of Notes engineers and increased maintenance costs, we thought it would be difficult to continue to use Notes."

In addition, Notes is used on premise and requires private lines to link to external systems. For this reason, when the Company needed to closely collaborate with external research institutions or other companies, it had to implement private lines, which in effect made it impossible to share information speedily. To maximize pipeline value, which the Company has prioritized in its Medium-term Management Plan, it must actively use external as well as internal resources. To that end, it needed an ICT environment for a new work style that readily, quickly facilitates external collaboration.

Process of introduction

Appreciating Fujitsu's specific, detailed proposals

Yuko Yoshinobu
ICT Platform Group
ICT Management Division
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation

To solve these problems, the Company chose Office 365, the de facto standard software. Management understood the need for Office and made a top-down decision to deploy it. Once the Company decided to introduce Office 365, it still had to decide upon a company to commission the task of introduction to. After holding a competition among multiple vendors, the Company chose Fujitsu, which had experience in implementing internal systems on a global basis as well as sophisticated proposals.

Mr. Kobayashi shared the following words of appreciation for Fujitsu: "Fujitsu is knowledgeable about our operations and also made a proposal that better took into account our company's situation. Fujitsu's proposal, which included the necessary network environment and other figures such as the cost of database migration based on its own know-how, was more specific and detailed."

Decisive factors for introduction

Fast introduction with minimum customization and project management by on-the-fly decision making

The project was launched in January 2016. With the cutover scheduled for August 2016, the Company needed to act quickly to get Office 365 up and running. To meet the schedule, meetings of four working groups-- Network, Communication, Devices, and Notes DB Migration-- as well as a general meeting of all groups were held weekly. In this way, a system was established for making snap decisions on what should be done immediately. At the project's start, members agreed that customization should be minimized to maximize the benefits of common understanding on how to use the de facto standard software.

However, Yuko Yoshinobu of the ICT Platform Group in the ICT Management Division noted the following: "We did not yield on some points that absolutely needed to be customized. For example, we insisted on taking a look at the specifics when building the inventory operation in SharePoint. As a result of the inventory we took of Notes databases, we found that many databases were merely a façade and not used in practice; in the end, we only migrated approximately two-thirds of all the databases. Since we wanted people to actively use the new team sites that would be created in SharePoint, we enabled people to use such sites via only a simple application, requesting that Fujitsu build an operation system that would enable the usage status to be visualized. We then required an inventory be taken once a year so that no databases turn into mere façades." Although it was relatively easy to obtain the cooperation of people in the field due partly to the top-down decision on the introduction, it was still difficult to explain to them about the new system because the system they were already using provided everything that they needed.
Ms. Yoshinobu continued: "To obtain the understanding of those in the field, we actually visited all the offices to hold briefing sessions to explain the change in information platforms and what would change how as a result. Regarding approximately 400 Notes databases that were built and used in the field, the cooperation of field personnel in reviewing the field operations and so forth was essential to fulfill the policy of migrating only the minimum required functions. To reduce confusion, we developed a system for responsibly supporting field personnel to the end of migration by assigning someone to be responsible for each database."

The Company also focused on education, and it conducted briefing sessions and lectures at each office in collaboration with Fujitsu. In addition, it developed a learning environment for employees by preparing educational materials, such as four types of video content and a quick-start guide printed on both sides of a sheet of A4 paper.
Thanks to the ingenuity and efforts described above, the new information platform was completed without delay. Migration to the new system for approximately 6,500 persons started at all domestic bases simultaneously in August 2016, and use of Skype for Business and Outlook commenced. Although the Company received many inquiries from end users about migrating their own email data, which the Company had asked them to do, the issue was resolved in about a week by posting a response on the inquiry website built with SharePoint as well as by handling inquiries via email and over the phone.

Benefits of introduction and future prospects

Gradual introduction to overseas bases; group-wide reform of operational productivity

Although the quantitative effects are currently being measured, one obvious improvement already evident at this point is meeting room reservations. Previously, meeting rooms could only be reserved using a single tool that was not linked to the schedules of the people making the reservations. For this reason, when plans changed, people often forget to cancel their reservations, resulting in 30% of rooms going unused. Since introducing Office 365, meeting reservations are now reflected in each user's schedule, and users no longer forget to change their meeting room reservations when their schedules change. As a result, the meeting room utilization rate improved, leading to effective use of assets.

Skype for Business is used by approximately 500 people daily, and researchers in particular actively use it not only for internal purposes but also for communicating with universities and overseas companies through web conferences and so forth. However, Ms. Yoshinobu noted the following: "At present, personnel can be divided into those who use Skype often and those who do not, so we want to make it used more widely. Therefore, we continue to take measures to promote its use by sharing successful examples and making use of Skype during IT training sessions."

The Company uses SharePoint for internal and external collaboration. SharePoint is used to share information securely as well as to collaborate via the cloud not only with internal personnel but also external partners.

At its four subsidiaries in North America, the Company launched the project in September 2016, and Skype for Business and Outlook were already in operation by the end of October. Fujitsu America also helped the Company to develop the system there. Through close communication between the Company's local office and Fujitsu America based on specifications and procedures established in Japan, development progressed quickly. Thereafter, these same systems also started to be used in Thailand in January 2017 and the U.K. in March.

The Company plans to introduce OneDrive and Office 365 Video in the future. At its remaining overseas bases, the Company plans to complete the introduction within about two years with Fujitsu's support. Ms. Yoshinobu concluded the interview with these words: "We will ask Fujitsu to continue to fully demonstrate its abundant know-how regarding its introduction and system integration capabilities so that we can expand our deployment and use of Office 365 together to achieve the Medium-term Management Plan 2016-20."

Mr. Kobayashi and Ms. Yoshinobu with Ryota Nakata as project manager (left end) and Tomohiro Kouda as project leader (right end) of Fujitsu Limited

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation

Location :
3-2-10, Dosho-machi, Chuo-ku
Osaka 541-8505, Japan
Representative :
Masayuki Mitsuka,
President and Representative Director
Established :
December 1933
Capital :
50 billion yen
Employees :
8,125 (consolidated) (as of March 31, 2016)
Business outline :
"We will help people around the world live happier lives by creating pharmaceuticals."
Pharmaceutical business
Manufacture and sale of pharmaceuticals, centered on ethical drugs

Major ethical drug fields:
1. Autoimmune diseases
2. Diabetes diseases
3. CNS diseases