Data Plays A Key Role In Digital Transformation

by Sohini Bagchi    Oct 21, 2016

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Digital transformation is the defacto agenda for companies today cutting across sectors to survive and thrive in the competitive business environment. However, very few firms understand its actual business implications. In a recent conversation with CXOToday, Vivekanand Venugopal, VP and GM, Hitachi Data Systems, India, explains the essence of digital transformation and how the company is helping businesses and society on the whole to be more competitive in today’s increasingly networked digital economy.

How do you define digital transformation? What challenges are companies facing to achieve this transformation?

Many would be surprised to know that digital transformation is not about the technology. It’s about the business strategy. It’s about completely rethinking legacy infrastructure or processes, especially for those businesses that don’t have their roots in digital.

The key challenge is that the majority of businesses today tend to treat all data [structured, unstructured, confidential, non-confidential] in exactly the same way. They store, access and protect it the same way. But data is as diverse as people – and needs to be handled with greater understanding and from different perspectives based. When data is treated the way it should be, it holds massive value for businesses.

Another challenge is about business-IT gap. While, the IT department is concerned with applications, hardware, databases and operating systems, the rest of the C-suite is under pressure to innovate faster, manage risk and gain profit. As a result of which there is a fundamental gap between how the business views digital transformation initiatives IT views the same. But sooner or later, one needs to realize that firms that cannot keep up with digital disruptors would become irrelevant in today’s fast-paced business world, just the way Uber have shaken up the taxi industries. Digital transformation can therefore be considered business transformation.

What would be your biggest priority area in 2017-18? Can you tell us from an India perspective?

In the last one year, we focused around analytics and would now be focusing around the Internet of Things as a key pillar of digital transformation.  In FY017 we will start to integrate the IoT game plan into our digital transformation initiative.  Since smart cities in a key area of focus, part of the IoT plan would be to execute in phase-one, with the primary objective to make the cities safer and more functional. 

Industry vertical wise, healthcare is a big area for us. We are looking at a lot more efficient and affordable healthcare services delivery in India. Technology wise, Cloud will be a big initiative, moving forward into FY017. We are already helping our customers build their private cloud infrastructure and we will also help service providers develop new and data driven services that they can take to the market leveraging digital transformation platform.

What are your plans around Internet of Things [IoT]. How exactly are you driving IoT?

In today’s smart and connected world, we define IoT as Internet of all things that matter. In other words, how these connected things can have an impact on businesses and the society at large. These are mostly areas of what we call the data driven business. Take for example, the telecom sector, which has over one billion subscribers.  Now how would telcos use data to drive new business models? How do they use that data to help you come up with variable pricing systems? There are several such questions to ask. The idea is to help these businesses use data to not only drive business and also to understand issues much before they impact you. 

We also focused on the area of smart cities, with specific industrial area like energy, transportation and water.  When I say industrial area, I am talking about machine to machine communication, machine to machine collaboration and machine learning algorithms, in other words, cognitive analytics, so these are the areas that we are looking at in the IoT domain. 

What are your plans on Indian smart cities in the coming quarters? How closely are you working with the Indian government to achieve this objective?

In India, the smart cities project is a big opportunity and it is more important for cities to become safer. The public safety aspect is a huge opportunity for HDS, most importantly the video analytics market. We are offering an integrated smart city platform. In some cases Central governments are involved, for example what Prime Minister Modi is doing with the smart city project.  At the Central government level, we tend to see a lot of engagement around the security aspect, with intelligence agencies using our technology and leveraging our analytics capabilities. We are already offering an integrated smart city platform for the government’s smart city projects.

What would be you advice to companies looking at Digital transformation?

Digital transformation impacts every area of the business. Through improved operations and processes, it can result in better customer experiences and customer loyalty. It can help the enterprises unlock new business models that give them access to new revenue streams and new markets.

Data is the foundation to accelerate digital transformation as the key to this is being able to access huge volumes of data. However, to realize the benefits of digital transformation organizations should integrate and analyze data to create insights that empower digital transformation. IT organizations must shift their thinking from supporting the traditional IT systems to enabling digital transformation through data. Finally, organizations should always consider digital transformation as business transformation and in a holistical manner.