Prepping businesses for digital futures

By : |January 2, 2019 0
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Thomas George

Digital Transformation is inevitable, and every organization is grappling with the reality of being an agile and digital enterprise at the earliest. For organizations looking to make the shift, a strategic partner can make all the difference by guiding them with the right digital strategy and execution. To know more, let’s hear a freewheel conversation with Sanjay Agrawal, Technology Head, Hitachi Vantara.


Today, everyone is talking about digital transformation and how does Hitachi Vantara differentiate itself as a digital transformation agent among the pack?

Sanjay Agrawal, Technology Head, Hitachi Vantara

One of the most important outcomes of digital transformation is to have a very clear and defined alignment of IT with business and strategy. But, if you look at the last 10 or 15 years, there were a lot of initiatives like IT becoming an enabler, IT supporting day to day businesses and IT becoming an agile contributor for business. But none of those initiatives in the past have really brought IT close to the business and businesses hardly appreciated the contribution from IT.

There are three pillars in the digital transformation that most of the companies today are talking about – customer satisfaction, operational processes, and business models. Now, these three areas are from a business side and part of the CEO’s vision. And this is where every single IT initiative within the organization must align with to get funding, IT approvals and all of that. For the first time, digital transformation is really bringing both business and IT together and people are really seeing the advantage.

At Hitachi Vantara, we believe data plays an important role in the transformation. The demand for ‘everything as a service’ also requires a lot of report monitoring, diagnosis, blending of data and all that. So, for all of these three pillars of digital transformation, what is really bringing in a transformation buzz is data. It is important to look into whether the data is being managed properly, looked into from an insight perspective and that is what our focus is on. We want to have solutions and methodologies to help our customers from the time the data gets captured, to a point where data is being monetized to either create a different business model or create new assets. And that is what is known as ‘Hitachi’s Data Stairway to Value’, which in turn accelerates the digital transformation channel.

Could you please explain it with specific industry use cases? 

For example, organizations today are trying to automate the operational process so that there is a reduction in the time taken to execute a Purchase Order(PO). The moment the PO comes in, your counter starts, and the challenge is if you can reduce the time by which you are able to deliver the goods to customers. Do systems have the intelligence to check whether you have the desired inventory in the warehouse to execute that order? If not, can it trigger the purchase through the partners, so that things are not delayed and the whole thing gets executed smoothly? This is one example of operational processes improvement which is known as technically prescriptive analytics.

But that is more a domain of supply chain management…

Correct. So, supply chain management is an end entity which will execute this. Today, in all the factories, this process of ordering is mostly manual. There is no intelligence in the system which can detect the deficiency in the inventory and take a decision. I gave my car for service, sometime last week, and that guy said it will take about four days because that is how much time it takes to get the parts. On the fourth day, they said they realized that inventory is not there and it took 10 days. It’s a part of supply chain management, but the data which is there can trigger this automatically without any human intervention and can expedite the whole process.

Let’s look at another example. Around 70% of the people in any organization’s data analytics department today are preparing data – cleansing, sorting, and so on, which is more of the backend work. Only 30% of the people are doing the value addition in terms of SLA monitoring. A lot of time is being spent on operations rather than analysis. So, people are trying to flip this ratio. From a pure IT perspective, looking at data center operations, people have started leveraging ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning’ because they want to automate in a way that the focus is shifted from data center operations to innovations, SLA management, supporting business and so on.

Any specific use case or example from other verticals would you like to mention here? 

We have solutions specific to all verticals. For example in healthcare, we have a Patient 360 Degree View which is unique in adding value; for banking and finance, we have a single customer view, which is today 360-Degree View; and in manufacturing, we have a digital manufacturing, predictive maintenance, smart factory solutions.

Let me share with you a live case that happened a couple of months back. One of the largest banks had done an analysis of some data and found that almost 70-80% of their client base is under the age of 30. They immediately shifted their marketing focus from a positional print media to a digital pocket because, in the age group of 30, people are more on mobile and internet.

Retail is another vertical which is gaining momentum and moving faster in the data analytics space and our solution like Smart Spaces – where people want to greet customers when they enter the store and want to use the technology to optimize the full place and create paths for people for better control.

As digital transformation agent, you must have reworked on your go to market approach…

You are absolutely right. With respect to digital transformation, our audience cannot be the IT manager of the organization anymore. So, as a part of an initiative to drive digital transformation for enterprises, our front-end teams’ sales and pre-sales teams are undertaking focused transformation workshops. It is the assessment and recommendation as to how they can accelerate their digital transformation journey.

We are doing this workshop one-to-one with the customer and our audience involves our IT teams as well. We invite all the stakeholders to discuss the business problems, new strategies so that IT can solve the business problems that they have. The CEO also comes for the first half an hour and spends time together to ensure that we are going in the right direction. We also have the CFOs, and the CDOs who lead that discussion and of course, sometimes CISOs and CMOs are there to understand how we can leverage the data and market it properly. So definitely, our structure, our approach, our go-to-market is now very different from what it used to be earlier.

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