Several fans were unfamiliar with NTT when it was announced as the IndyCar Series' new title sponsor. Here's a quick primer on the Japanese-based company, which promises to usher in an exciting new era of fan engagement.
1. What does it stand for?
NTT is short for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation. The parent company was founded in 1985 in Tokyo.
It is a holding company for smaller businesses such as NTT DATA, which is based in Plano, Texas, and NTT Communications. NTT DATA has been a sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing since 2012.
2. What's their product?
While NTT doesn't offer a direct consumer product like Verizon, their global reach is significant. The company is a one-stop innovation partner for big businesses and government agencies. Some notable projects include:
- Building and operating a public transport ticketing system for the state of Victoria, Australia
- Digitizing all of the documents and books in the Vatican so they're available online
- Running the systems that control the supply chain for the U.S. Air Force
- Developing an IP- and platform-led ecosystem with BMW Group to help with the mission to become leader in AD and mobility services
- Building the 'My Pick-up Day' web portal for Audi
- Creating an in-vehicle infotainment system for Denso International Americas
3. Just how big is NTT?
The parent company is ranked No. 55 in the Fortune Global 500. It also does business with more than 80 percent of the Fortune Global 100, providing about $106 billion worth of IT services every year.
NTT DATA, the parent company's biggest presence in the United States, is a $19 billion IT and business services company.
4. How can NTT help INDYCAR?
That global scale is a big deal for INDYCAR team owners and partners.
"They (NTT) do business with every major corporation on a global basis," said Ganassi, owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, whose driver Scott Dixon is the reigning series champion. "They do business with everybody from banks to car companies to everyone who needs big data. They have some thump. They are a worldwide company."
5. How will NTT benefit INDYCAR fans?
In a recent interview with Forbes, Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles explained the value NTT will bring to INDYCAR's app under development. (No, you won't need to be a Verizon customer to access the new app.)
"NTT is developing the next-generation app for INDYCAR," Miles said. "It will be open to everybody. There will be no need to authenticate with a cable provider. You will not need to be a customer with any one mobile provider. And it will be free."
NTT will also help collect data from cars and drivers that could become usable content. For example, NTT DATA worked with Tony Kanaan in the past to track his heart rate and other measurables when he was in the car. That's the kind of content that, at some point, NTT might produce for fans.
6. Does this mean INDYCAR will race in Japan?
Not so fast.
Miles told Sports Business Daily getting to Japan for a race could be tricky.
"Time will tell, but that's not central to this conversation," he said. "The strategy on our calendar is to try to hit the February sort of pre-St. Pete window (for international races) and there's not too many places in Japan probably where that could work climate-wise."
7. How will INDYCAR help NTT?
During discussions leading up to the partnership, NTT said it wanted to grow its presence in North America. The INDYCAR sponsorship will help jump start the process.
“When you go through these things, having gone through them a few times, there was never any ‘Aw, shoot’ moment,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR's president. “This thing was always building. By the time we got to Tokyo (for final negotiations), I felt like we had really built this with the help of NTT DATA. You want (to meet) face to face. You want to formalize things: Here’s who we are, here’s what we’re doing, here’s how it’s going to work. You’re a global brand that wants to have a bigger platform in North America. Here’s how we’re going to do that. It worked out really well.
“It’s been a phenomenal three months to get to this point. Now the work really begins, right? There are a lot of things that have to happen, a lot of things that have to happen real quick.”