Archive for the ‘Social Innovation’ Category

At an interesting intersection

I haven’t published anything here on my personal blog for a while, a few years actually. Time flies.

The last time I wrote something here I was with a startup called BlueArc. BlueArc was acquired by Hitachi Data Systems pretty soon after that article was published (no connection to my article though 😉 ) and I got busy learning the new environment.


More recently, during the last year and change, I’ve been involved in some new business areas we’re starting up and until recently I haven’t been able to talk publicly about this and, especially, the yet-to-be announced solutions. We’ve been like a startup inside a bigger company, exciting and fast paced – for a large company.

However, we’re now at a point where some of these solutions have been introduced to the market (and there’s more to come). These solutions are what we call “Social Innovation” solutions. They live in a very interesting intersection of leading edge technology (Big Data analysis and the Internet of Things), deep industry expertise and a focus on meeting big societal challenges.

Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time 😉  Social Innovation at Hitachi is one of those places just now.

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So what is this really?

There’s more on the company view of Social Innovation herehere and here, plus a blog I recently wrote in the HDS Community. That’ll hopefully give you some background to start with. Frost & Sullivan has also published white papers on Social Innovation if you want to read more.

Most people know Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) for its mission critical infrastructures to manage data for banks, hospitals, manufacturing companies etc – i.e. companies whose success depend on the availability of their data. What’s less known is that we’ve been investing also in analytics technologies and solutions for vertical applications. For example, last year we acquired a couple of companies in the Public Safety part of Smart Cities – Pantascene and Avrio. This is now the base for the Hitachi Visualization solution for Public Safety and Smart City

More recently we announced the intent to acquire Pentaho, a leader in big data analytics and visualization. That deal is going through the regulatory checks and will close as soon as it has cleared that phase. It’s all part of completing the portfolio.

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Another piece of the puzzle is that HDS is part of the larger Hitachi Group. Most of you have probably experienced other Hitachi products – like power tools, TVs, etc. Most of the Hitachi involvement in terms of non-IT products and soilutions are however more on the commercial and industrial side, vs consumer.

Hitachi has broad hands-on experience from many different industries. In several cases this is end-to-end, like in Healthcare where Hitachi makes sensors and instruments (e.g. MRI or Ultrasound scanners), treatment systems (e.g. for Proton Beam Therapy), diagnostic analysis solutions, clinical repositories of data –and- Hitachi also owns and runs hospitals. So it’s true end to end. Very unique.

That’s just one industry as an example. Below is  small sampling of industries where Hitachi has a footprint.

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We’re now applying that broad experience into what we call “Social Innovation” in a range of different market segments. The goal is to enable safer, smarter and healthier societies. This may sound like lofty goals, but it actually aligns with the long time (think century) mission of Hitachi, to provide technological solutions to improve society.

Hitachi mission: “Contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products

How come I’m involved in this now?

Part of it is luck and good timing, but maybe also unconsciously moving to be in the right general area of the industry. 7951-opportunity

Being at the intersection of Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) is one thing, but I’ve also always had as a criteria for where I work that it needs to be a company that is “good”. When I joined Sun many years ago it was partly because they were doing really interesting things with technology and was breaking the dominance of the current players at that time, but it was also about aligning with the customers and being the “good guys” in the industry – driving for sharing technology through open source.

More and more people also realize that true and lasting success is also about looking beyond the quarterly financial results, your real stakeholders are much more than just the shareholders. This was recently discussed in a Forbes article  and we’re actually conducting a poll on our community site about a similar question just now. It’s going to be interesting what the results will be. Please go ahead and cast your vote!

Now at Hitachi, my work, focus and values are along the same lines as you can see above. However, now it’s also about non-IT technology, Operational Technology or OT, and how we can apply technology to solve the bigger challenges. Take water for example, a very hot topic here in California today and also something I wrote about in a blog post here in 2009 that now seems almost like precognition. (Btw, I’ve built on my own advice, last year I installed a water tank to collect rainwater, so I expect our vegetable garden this year to be totally irrigated by the rainwater I collected during the few rains we’ve had this season.)

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However, the signs have been there a long time, it’s just about assembling the data and put the light on some of the insights. This applies across many more areas – think about the impact on healthcare due to our aging population or the impact on city infrastructures as more and more people move into urban areas. I’m enjoying this mix of IT and OT.

I’m still keeping my connection to technical computing alive as well, I was recently interviewed about Visualization for the American Oil&Gas Reporter.

Anyway, this was a quick run through to catch you up with what I’ve been doing lately. I’ll try to keep this blog more up to date going forward.


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