Hitachi emphasizes unique vision, capabilities around data-driven innovation to customers at NEXT event

Hitachi kicked off their NEXT customer event with the CEOs of Hitachi and Hitachi Vantara outlining the company’s vision, and the ability specifically of the year-old Hitachi Vantara to deliver on it.

Brian Householder, Hitachi Vantara’s CEO, onstage at the NEXT event

SAN DIEGO – At last year’s Hitachi’s NEXT 2017 event – their first – the company made a bombshell announcement. They integrated three separate Hitachi companies – Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group, and Pentaho – into Hitachi Vantara, with a stated goal of  driving forward from their base in enterprise storage to become the number one player in the Internet of Things. At this year’s NEXT event here, the message was much more about consolidation, emphasizing the company’s singular advantages in the IoT space, its progress over the last year, and its ability to use that to solve both business and societal problems through data-driven innovation.

“What’s next?,” Toshiaki Higashihara, Hitachi’s President and CEO, asked rhetorically as he began his kickoff keynote. “Last year I stood here and spoke to you about the dramatic change of digital transformation. We have now entered into a new phase of digital transformation, which will bring us great benefit, new challenges and new opportunities. In other words – light and shadow. Light gives us opportunity for growth. Shadow brings us threat, such as cyberattacks and security and data breaches. The company has to move at a faster pace than ever before to fill that gap.”

Higashihara emphasized that Hitachi is uniquely positioned to do this, because it has a unique skillset.

“Our mission is clear – to contribute to the society through the development of superior technology and products,” he said. “There are many areas how Hitachi adds value, and the first is our history and scope of innovation. Hitachi was established in 1910. Our first product was a 5 HP motor for copper mining. Since then, we have never stopped innovating. Hitachi has over 100 years experience in OT and over 50 years in IT. It is a very unique company, which has IT and OT under one roof. This is part of our DNA.”

So is promoting social innovation by improving social infrastructure with digital technology to make the world a better place, Higashihara stressed.

“There are two key words here – co-creation and connect,” he said. “Co-creation is necessary to solve challenges, so to do this we launched Lumada in May 2016. It can connect data even from other platforms, and deliver the data to be turned into intelligent action to solve society’s problems.”

Higashihara gave a customer example, of Copenhagen Metro and the self-driving train Hitachi built for them.

“There is a driverless automatic train system, and also sensors at the station platform which track how many passengers board the train,” he said. “Avoiding large numbers of waiting passengers increases the efficiency of operations. This is a perfect example of how we combine OT and IT to take on challenges of transforming social infrastructure.”

Higashihara emphasized that Hitachi’s commitment to social innovation runs on a parallel track with business innovation.

“We can deliver new value to society through co-creation, with our digital capabilities to solve the most important business and societal challenges,” he said.

Brian Householder, Hitachi Vantara’s CEO, then talked in more detail about how organizations need to rethink the way they handle data to achieve these goals.

“A whole new game is being played today, and that game centres around data,” he said. “Data is changing the basis of how we compete. Those with the best data strategy will win, assuming that they execute. And the most underutilized asset in most industries is data. Customers confirm that less than 5 per cent of their data is actually being analyzed. Silo issues hold us back – data siloes, organizational siloes, and cultural siloes, which are mindsets.”

The rewards make it worthwhile, Householder stressed, pointing to a Harvard Business Review study contrasting data leaders versus data laggards – including 1.8x increased agility, 1.6x decreased costs, and 1.8x regulatory compliance.”

“What we talk about at Hitachi is how can leverage that power,” he said. “We are an innovation company. That is what we do. There is no other company in the planet that has the IT and OT capabilities we have, and we can use them to achieve outcomes that benefit both business and society. We want you to own our data – not us. That’s what you hear in the marketplace, but that isn’t necessarily the case. We do want to give you the keys. That’s what we are all about. We are focused on unlocking the value of your data, so you get a better investment on your data.

“I want to encourage all of us to get on that journey together,” Householder concluded. “We look on our customers as partners, and we want to partner with you so we can all become data-driven innovators.”