'Retain, reuse and get better returns on assets'

Today, India is at a very important inflection point. There is potential for us to even touch nine per cent growth or even double-digit growth

'Retain, reuse and get better returns on assets'
Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the $80-billion Hitachi, sells mid-range and high-end storage related software and services through direct and indirect channels in more than 170 countries.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s N V Vijayakumar, Hitachi Data Systems Vice President and General Manager Vivekanand Venugopal reveals the transformational journey of the company from providing IT platforms and solutions to one that provides social innovation solutions. 


How do you find the business model in India and how you are finding competition from peers?

If you look at the Indian market, we had a perfect time to add a lot of value to India for the last 14 years in various spots right. We are today the best-in-class enterprise storage solution provider for enterprise customers. If you take top banks, telecom companies and IT companies, they use Hitachi, and the way we look at HDS is we are helping connect the business with society. So, when I am selling this solution to the bank at the end of the day, I am focused on driving financial inclusion, driving banking to the unbanked.

When I was selling my solution to government establishments, some of the large prestigious government projects, the National Knowledge Network, the ‘government cloud’ called Meghraj, the latest initiative of Modi government called MyGov, so all these enable government-to-government collaboration, government-to-citizen collaboration, and then helps the citizen avail the services of the government. So directly we are contributing to a digital India project.  

What is the differentiating proposition of HDS?

Customers value HDS for three things. The first is that we are technology innovators, the reason why customers partner with HDS. The second reason is the economics of our solution is far more superior than other offerings in the market. The third point is the business culture of HDS, which is very strongly embodied around the Japanese culture. When we say something works alright we are honourable to that. For the last five years, we have been ranked the most ethical company in the world.  

How do you view the transformation in the country? 

Today, India is at a very important inflection point. There is potential for us to even touch nine per cent growth or even double-digit growth, and there is a great opportunity in the next five years for us to do that. Now, how can HDS contribute to that? We can help organisations to leverage their data so that they can drive better domestic consumption with their existing customers, find new customers, and make their business more competitive. 

Besides startup companies, IT infrastructure and services are availed by big companies and other government-led initiatives. The business model revolving around these entities are poles apart with its unique and diverse opportunities.


How you look at this opportunity with the products and the platforms that you have?

Here we are doing two things. We were always recognised as an enterprise storage company, and today we have made a big transformation into an IT solutions company. What we have done is that we have customised various outfits. Today, we are announcing 20 new products around what we call as software-defined solutions where a startup or a first-time user or a small business user can go and build his IT solutions and start to focus on driving business outcomes for his company.

The second one is that we have built together some really unique solutions where these customers can leverage this cloud alright. Now we are saying, customer build your IT infrastructure without even investing on our data center as we have ERP as a service, IT infrastructure as a service, and business process management as a service. So we have given the ability for the first-time user and the startup companies to accelerate their business leveraging Hitachi IT platforms on the cloud.

We have seen for the last couple of years that company spend on storage declining, in the sense they are a bit conservative as other solutions that available in the market. What is your strategy on this? 

Let us go back to customers, who have already made investments, and these are customers who are struggling today because their architectures are traditional, they have legacy applications and they have manual people processes. We tell these customers not to throw away any investment that they have made because we help them understand the concept called return on assets. 

We would advise our customers to make it more efficient with our software defined strategy and thereby achieve better return on assets. If our customers are heavily dependent on manual processes but also have existing infrastructure, we will say they can bring in the automation without throwing away their existing assets. So that is why customers love to work with Hitachi, because we go in with a concept of saying retain your assets, reuse your assets and attain better return on your infrastructure. 

For new customers, the story is how do I accelerate IT adoption. For them, we are saying you do not have to buy everything upfront, leverage the HDS cloud, and start to run your application immediately, start to run your IT on the cloud immediately.  

Can you elaborate on the social innovation solutions?

We are providing IT platforms and solutions for the past 14 years, but now we have started to provide what we call Social Innovations Solutions. These are what we call as social infrastructure with information technology and operational technologies together. Today, no other company in the world has that capability.

For instance, I can provide a solution for the public safety. HDS makes the cameras, we have solutions to do the video analytics, we can do facial recognition, we can go ahead and do sentiment analysis, and provide an integrated public safety solution. I can provide solution in the transportation industry, heavy engineering industry and healthcare industry. We make the equipment for cancer treatment, and it is called Photon Beam Therapy. Because we know about it and that we manufacture it, we know how to analyse the equipment, and thereby the end goal is to provide better cancer treatment for patients with minimal impact. So that is the kind of social innovation solutions that we are able to provide in the market today.

How do you look at opportunities thrown open by IoT and analytics?

What is the number one requirement for Indian citizens? Since public safety is important, we have developed a solution for it. The Indian government can adopt it to provide better security to Indian citizens.

The second solution that we have developed is for the healthcare. It is called live insight for connected health. Then for data centers we have the internet of things for IT operations.

Customers have built a lot of data centres but they are not able to manage it so we have a solution that will help them manage all  the Internet of Things (IoT) in the data centre, understand real-time analytics, make improved business decision to improve the efficiency of the data centre, and thereby they can save money.   

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