In this ESG On Location Video, ESG's Mark Peters and Terri McClure provide their impressions from Hitachi Next 2017, held in Las Vegas. Hitachi is being rebranded as Vantara, and Mark and Terri also spoke to CMO Asim Zaheer and CCO Mary Ann Gallo about the company's direction.
Announcer: The following is an ESG On Location video.
Mark: Welcome to Hitachi NEXT, here in lovely Vegas. I thought I was coming to a conference led by HDS. This is the first time I've walked into a conference, in this case, HDS is the lead company, and walked out with a conference run by a different name. Now, exactly what that name is and what that means and why this transformation has occurred, let me hand you over to Terri McClure.
Terri: Mark talked about transformation. What we really saw here this week was the transformation of HDS, Hitachi Insights Group, and Pentaho into a new entity called Hitachi Vantara, that brings together all three companies to deliver end-to-end edge to outcome solutions for customers. And it's really interesting seeing what they can do when you bring the power of these three companies together, because so many tech companies talk about digital transformation. But what they're really talking about is IT transformation. They're talking about changing the data centers that deliver cloud-like solutions.
What Hitachi Vantara can do is really deliver business transformation, that really edge to outcome business process reinvention leveraging digital technology that can truly create a competitive advantage for a company. So to learn more, Mark and I talked to a couple of Hitachi Vantara executives.
I'm here with Asim Zaheer, the CMO of Hitachi Vantara. And strangely enough, I'm sitting here interviewing him from the backseat of a car. Asim, why are we here?
Asim: We're here because we're in a million-dollar autonomous, self-driving car, completely outfitted by Hitachi. And it's really cool.
Terri: Yes, it's definitely really cool. When you say completely outfitted by Hitachi, just a couple of things that...
Asim: Yeah. So, it's all the smart technology to sense direction, to instruct the car to go, stop. All kinds of sensors on here to sense everything from the driver's heartbeat, to driving pattern. There's cameras all around the car. And it's actually registered, I believe, to self-drive in the state of Michigan, today. This very vehicle.
Terri: This is really IoT in action.
Terri: Isn't it?
Terri: And you guys play a key role in IoT, as well as more of a role now with your new company.
Terri: You and the Hitachi Insights Group and HDS and Pentaho have been working together closely. Why are you doing this? Why are you going through all the time and money and investment putting these companies together?
Asim: Really fundamentally the idea here is 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 5. It's the synergy and the power of the combined entity. And so, we want to have true portfolio integration to achieve some of these really interesting breakthrough innovations that we might have on the software side between the work we're doing on analytics on the Pentaho side, the work we're doing in terms of building an IoT end-to-end platform with Lumada, the infrastructure work that we've done historically in the data center, and we're bringing all of that intelligence, if you will, that we have from other elements of Vantara into the data center. And at the same time, we're bringing the data center to all the machines that Hitachi builds and ultimately the machines that other companies build as well.
For example, this car is essentially a rolling computer. You need to have processing power here. You need to be able to do some analytics work here within the vehicle. You need to be able to make decisions here within the vehicle. You need to store data in the vehicle, because you can't just send that stuff back into some core system or even into the cloud and wait for instructions back. Right? Especially when the stop light, you know, turns from red to green.
That's where it all kind of comes together. I think we're extending to both sides, OT capability and IT capability. We're cross-pollinating each.
Terri: So, as you make this shift towards this really solutions-based approach, what does it mean for your traditional customers in the data center? What does it mean for the guys...your storage loyals especially?
Asim: Absolutely. Great question. So, we are as committed as we've ever been to all the customers that we currently have. And so, what we're looking to do is provide them more value, more interesting outcomes and compelling outcomes for their business and take them on this journey with us. A lot of the companies that we have worked with historically, they wanna look at new things. They wanna implement, you know, analytics. They wanna implement IoT solutions. This is the conversation that we wanna have, which is around data, what data problem are you trying to solve, and then let's take it from there.
Terri: And that lends itself to the edge to outcome discussion in itself if you change the discussion to data, not infrastructure.
Mark: Okay, so we heard from the conversation between Terri and Asim about why a new company. But now I'm sitting with Mary Ann Gallo who's the Chief Communications Officer. Yes?
Mary Ann: Yes.
Mark: I got it right this time.
Mary Ann: Absolutely, you do.
Mark: We cut the other one. That was no good. I really have two questions for you. The first one is, aside from the new company, why a new brand at all?
Mary Ann: Yes, absolutely. Well, we looked at the business strategy, and the strategy is very different than the existing companies that are making up the new company. So we didn't wanna be hamstrung by old perceptions of brands, while they were really great. But where we're going in the future is really a new strategy. This is something net new, and so we needed a net new brand.
Mark: Okay. So I understand therefore why you wanted to do a new brand.
Mary Ann: Yes.
Mark: The golden question, particularly to someone with your job, is why this particular name and brand?
Mary Ann: So, Hitachi Vantara is a name that is a nod to our past. So the V comes from virtualization. As you know, Mark, we introduced heterogeneous virtualization in the storage days, and that was wildly successful. We have our great VSP platform. So it's a nod to, you know, our great heritage in data. But it's also looked to our future with vantage point. So giving our customers the insights and data they need so they can make better decisions, so they can have competitive advantage. So, Hitachi Vantara. See what I did there?
Mary Ann: Okay, good.
Mark: That's very good. Well, thank you very much, Mary Ann. That's good. I feel smarter.
If you think about what HDS was known for before, it was all about IT. IT is a lot about repeat business built on standards and commodities. Assuming that the new company Vantara gets it right, then they're about repeat innovation built on really smart IT. That's a big difference and a big opportunity.