I’m starting to hear questions like: “What comes next?” “Do things go back to the way they were?” “Are some of the changes wrought by the pandemic here to stay?”
I think we all know part of the answer: there is no going (all the way) back.
In the analog world, sure, we need some things to revert to bounce back. We need to revitalize retail, tourism and hospitality to get our economies moving again. We need to get kids back into school and childcare so parents can get back into the workforce.
But in the digital world, the future is less about ‘going back’ and more about leveraging the new foundations we have established and finding areas to ‘double down’ and scale from here.
Why would we give up the newfound convenience of working from home, or ecommerce or telehealth, or any of the other new digital experiences that have enhanced our lives?
I never thought I would spend my first year as CEO of Hitachi Vantara working remotely, but as I wrote in my recent blog for Forbes, greater informality in the ‘workplace’, less time spent traveling, and more opportunities to connect with clients, have all been a plus.
Accelerated digitalization has similarly changed many aspects of our economy, society, and environment for the good, and we must retain and build on those benefits.
Take our client Logan Aluminum, for example. It supplies nearly half of the North American can market and had to navigate an almost 10X expansion in market growth as U.S. retail sales of canned drinks grew 15% to 25% year-over-year in the first quarters of the pandemic. That was up from just 2.6% in January of 2020.
How did Logan respond? It fired up its use of data. More than 2,000 sensors were deployed across 59 machines at its Kentucky plant, and the insights the data delivered are helping the company increase asset life and production line availability, enhance worker safety, and improve forecasting.
And I feel sure Rabobank will also retain and build on the innovation it put in place to handle an expansion of digital commerce transactions. We helped the bank rapidly scale from 2,000 to 22,000 virtual machines in its data centers. Through our automation technologies Rabobank became able to provision a new physical server in just eight minutes and have its entire estate managed by just five staff. That’s more than 4,000 servers per person!
There are so many stories like this in our client base. This is the new normal. Being data driven is how organizations win in the 21st century. According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to win customers, six times more likely to keep customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.
But clearly there have been digital winners and digital losers in the past year, or ‘haves’ and ‘have-mores’, if you like.
So why are the benefits of digitalization elusive to some?
Feeling The Digital ‘Squeeze’
Clients tell me they feel squeezed between keeping up with a surge of new data, and the pressure to deliver new digital products, services, and experiences that keep their organization relevant and competitive.
The imbalance between data growth and data budgets is real. According to 451 Research, data volumes are forecast to rise 28% next year, whereas data storage budgets are only expected to grow 16%.
Getting the right data to the right people at the right time to make the right decisions is arguably an even tougher challenge.
Data workers say they are still spending nearly half their time searching for and preparing data instead of gaining insights that can help the business.
You can’t solve these problems without high performance data systems, effective data integration, intelligent data management and automated governance at scale, from the core to the edge and the cloud.
But even that is not the end game.
Delivering data-driven products and services on top of a modern data ecosystem is the goal, and only about 25% of organizations say they are doing this today with any level of scale and repeatability today.
We think we can help clients get there.
Lessons Learned from a Data-Driven Journey
At Hitachi, we have fundamentally shifted our mindset from having data support our business to having data drive our business.
Our factories are now recognized by the World Economic Forum as models in digitalization.
Our energy solutions are now data-driven. Every wind turbine we digitalize can reduce outages by as much as 90%, which keeps 200 extra homes running on clean renewable electricity.
Moreover, we are building a powerful portfolio of digital solutions to help you advance your digital journey.
IT sector revenues now represent more than 20% of total Hitachi revenues annually. We are helping companies build digital infrastructure, digitally optimize their businesses, and create new revenues from data-driven products and services. The recently announced acquisition of GlobalLogic by Hitachi will only further accelerate our capabilities.
Data-Driven Organizations in Action
During my keynote at Hitachi Social Innovation Forum, I shared some fantastic examples of data-driven innovation in action.
It was a thrill to share the stage with Dr. Jennifer Hall of the American Heart Association. Our new alliance to make the AI-powered Precision Medicine Platform available to all sectors of healthcare is truly a game-changer.
And it was exciting to be joined by Rachel Hutter of Disney Parks, who shared news that Hitachi Lumada IoT solutions are now helping to create amazing guest experiences as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, one of the world’s most technologically advanced theme park rides.
Driving Social Innovation
Our collaborations with Disney Parks and American Heart Association are special, but there were dozens more examples of data-driven innovation at Hitachi Social Innovation Forum. I invite you to take the time to explore them for yourself.
The bottom line is we believe every organization has the potential to become data driven. And when they do, they can create solutions to the world’s most pressing business, societal and environmental challenges.
That is what we mean by social innovation: powering good at the intersection of social purpose and becoming data driven. Isn’t that an incredibly powerful and motivating mission?
This, and the privilege and opportunity to partner with you on your digital journeys, is what fires me up every single day!
Gajen Kandiah is CEO at Hitachi Vantara.