Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined TeamSpirit
Ninomiya Naoki : Hello Kossi, thank you for inviting TeamSpirit on board!
My name is now Ninomiya Naoki, and I am Japanese. I’m currently working as a software product manager for TeamSpirit Singapore in Singapore. TeamSpirit is a software company, especially for B2B sales, and the headquarter is based in Tokyo. We did our Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2018.
So, we are providing an integrated software solution called TeamSpirit, which helps every workforce to perform daily tasks like attendance report, time tracking, leave management as well as expense management and so on.
Our software is provided on Salesforce platform, and we have been partnered with Salesforce since 2010. For about 10 years now, TeamSpirit has been used by more than 250,000 users in mainly Japan, and the number is still increasing.
For myself, I’m responsible for the Expense Management module in TeamSpirit. It’s one of our new software that is poised for global expansion. My role is a Product Manager, and I do the product planning, gathering requirements, defining specifications, as well developing the product with engineers and also designers.
I love my job as it is an exciting and fast moving one, because it empowers me to deal with different stakeholders daily! It is very satisfying whenever we have a new release because it is testimony to our team’s hard work paying off.
Also, we had the first customer go live at the beginning of this year. That was definitely a memorable moment for myself and my team. This is because we had been developing our new product for a few years, then we could successfully let the first customer go live this year.
That’s a huge relief! It’s always a happy thing to see that our products can be used to make our customers even more successful, and yeah, I believe the customer is also happy using our new product.
How does TeamSpirit innovate?
Ninomiya Naoki : One of our company’s values is “fail at lightspeed and recover from it at lightspeed”.
One core way our company innovates is by encouraging all our staff to experiment and dare to fail. It is important to remember that failure is not always a necessary evil– as long as we fail fast and fail forward. So we always encourage our people and ourselves to experiment, dare to fail, learn fast and move forward. And we just repeat that cycle again and again.
So that is kind of how a kind of growth mindset is reinforced. The team and its core values are probably the most important elements that contribute towards resilience in a company, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19.
How has the COVID-19 Global Pandemic affected your Business and how are you Coping?
Ninomiya Naoki : The impact is primarily on two levels
On the first level, the global pandemic reinforced our company’s fundamental conviction that it is not just important to have a positive mindset towards digital transformation.
It is also equally important to stay true to our company’s mission to “make everyone a creator”, so that we can continue to serve customers who want to embark on their respective digital transformation journeys.
For example, because of COVID-19, we don’t go to the office anymore to minimize our risks of getting the virus. In fact, COVID-19 has raised the fundamental question of why people even need to go to office? The answer is mainly because we needed to do some paperwork.
So let me give you one example: expense claims. In the past, we used to do expense claims by using paper, like submitting paper spreadsheets directly to your accountant or finance department.
Now, with TeamSpirit’s Expense solution, we don’t even need to do manual paper expense claims back in office because we have the latest technology. If you were to use the company’s corporate credit card, your expense is automatically recorded in the system and after that, you only need to select it to claim an expense. It’s online, and you can access the software anywhere since it’s on cloud.
In short, everything related to expense claims can now be done online. There is no more boring routine work and no more dealing with excel spreadsheet and paperwork!
The second level is a reminder to us all that no matter how big our company is, it is important to stay razer-focused on the type of problem we are helping our customers solve. In other words, it might be a wise idea to return to becoming a “Lean Startup”. Focus, speed and agility are key here.
You see, the COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in workplaces all over the world. Think of digital transformation as a fundamental change that reforms businesses. So the mindset is one of the most very important things, especially for large organisations, and we have to be careful. Large organizations tend to stick doing what they are doing right now. This could be because they’re used to winning the market, they’re leading the market right now, and they have a long history.
So big companies seldom want to change what they are doing right now, because it works! Having said that, we all have to bear in mind that the rate of disruption these days is rapid, and we have to constantly ask ourselves if what we are doing in the near future would still continue to be relevant to the new world.
Therefore, if there is a pandemic like this black swan called “COVID-19”, big companies have to admit that some things they are doing right now is not the best way anymore in the near future. So what do they do then? They will have to pivot right now, to prepare for the future. Apart from mindset, speed is also very important.
Look at the COVID-19 situation. So digital transformation has actually been accelerated somehow. So yeah, as we see in the news these days are traditional big companies over-diluting their strengths. I think one of the reasons is because they are struggling in reforming their lifestyle or businesses. Whereas some small companies like small startups, they already adapt their lifestyle to this COVID-19 situation very well because they are agile.
Therefore, be focused, be fast and be agile. I think these principles will help all companies cope, whether they are large or small.
Your Final Thoughts
Ninomiya Naoki : I’ll like to thank Kossi and Startup.info once again for having me on board. And to also wish everyone health, safety and peace of mind during this potentially tiring COVID-19 period.
Because of this COVID-19 situation, I think our industry is changing very fast and significantly. So yeah, we should be keen to catch up with the trend and constantly ask ourselves if what we are offering is still relevant to the new economy.
And also, we should be ready to position ourselves for what is going to happen next and what we can do next.