Michael Hay

Recognized by Boston Consulting as a Top Innovator

Blog Post created by Michael Hay Employee on Dec 29, 2015

bcg.jpegFor the second year running Hitachi has been recognized as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world by the Boston Consulting Group.  This year we've returned at number 38 and Michael Hay predicted that we would return in a post last year: On being recognized, externally, as a top innovator.  (However we did not move up, as predicted, so he was only half right. )  Last year we highlighted the significance of the BCG methodology and resulting list. Rather debate the significance of being on the list, this is a good opportunity to highlight some of the innovation by Hitachi this year to date.  Early on in 2015 Hitachi started off with a bang and in the first quarter we illustrated innovations in business structure and technology that signaled tangible shifts towards our roots as an Internet of things company.  Specifically I'd like to highlight three areas we publicly talked about this year.


Hitachi Arm Picking Robot.jpg

Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

In January 2015 we announced an effort with Australia to utilize a self steering tractor to develop precision farming.  If you look at the roster of participants you'll see that this was done in partnership with many parties to explore the potential of a more automated farm. (While the participants are many, the categories of participants included government organizations, universities and commercial concerns from both Australia and Japan.)  In August we announced a prototype robotic system that could be deployed in warehouses of the future to automate the picking process.  Finally, one of our Artificial Intelligence Technologies that is tied to improving business outcomes by improving efficiencies.  Unlike our competitors' AI technologies that watch cat videos and play Jeopardy, our approach is to provide a kind of business co-pilot that produces tangible benefits to business leaders.  Ironically, the internal name for the project (which we cannot communicate in writing) was the character known for his iconic phrase, "It is elementary my dear Watson."


financial+forum+slide+-+7.pngExcellence in Information Communications Technologies

Can you imagine an exabyte? Well a while back we converted an exabyte into something more tangible (see: Financial Forum Detail - The Emerging Exa-Scale Era) and found out that an exabyte is roughly 20 million Bluray movies totaling around 4566 years worth of viewing pleasure.  In context to our recent announcement around our VSP F and statements by Hu Yoshida and Bob Madaio, we've shipped the equivalent of 5,000,000 HD movies or 0.25 exabytes worth of flash as of our Q3 2015.  The story beyond the capacity shipments is how we've built our system for stable and scalable performance characteristics.  We capitalized on our R&D prowess to realize a complete system that leverages all resources including of course media, memory controller, system cores, and access ports.  In fact, we can argue that this is one of the first real and expansive use cases of ARM computing in the enterprise as every Flash Module we build and ship includes a quad-core ARM complex!


Beyond flash is our software defined object/cloud storage portfolio that has our Hitachi Content Platform at the center.  This year we debuted significant improvements in the portfolio ranging from an erasure coded storage to wide area content sharing, and beyond.  Further this year we were recognized externally three times via awards from TMC, 2014-2015 Cloud Awards, and Cloud Computing's Storage Excellence Awards.  These external recognitions and placing as a leader in IDC's Object Storage Marketscape report illustrate that innovation can also come in steady continuous rates as well as revolutionary leaps.


Innovation is Sometimes About Turning Yourself Inside Out

Of course innovation is more than how much money is spent or the spark of invention; in fact, here has to be a material and positive impact on society for the initial eureka moment to transform into an innovation.  Moreover, innovation doesn't only happen with technology it can happen with processes, cost savings, organizational structure reform, and partnership.  It is these last two that we want to talk about as they are material to illustrating Hitachi is an extraordinary innovator.


Earlier this year Hitachi Research put forward their reorganization plan to build capabilities supporting internal and external co-innovations -- previous focus was largely to fuel internal innovations.  This effort is sponsored by Hitachi board member Keiji Kojima and led by Norihiro Suzuki is well underway already.  Here are a couple of recent actions publicly announced with relevant text pulled from the announcement:


  • NEXPERIENCE - a systematized process it has developed to facilitate the process of collaborative creation with customers. NEXPERIENCE is a collective term Hitachi will use for an approach to exploring and discovering business opportunities, creating business concepts and designing business models through in depth collaboration with customers.
  • ICT lab in Myanmar -  Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501, “Hitachi”) announced today that it has established Hitachi Myanmar Laboratory at the University of Information Technology, Yangon (UIT) (Rector: Saw Sanda Aye, Ph.D.) to develop Myanmar's next generation of IT leaders. In addition to sending engineers from Japan to offer IT courses for UIT professors and students, Hitachi will also donate the necessary IT platform such as servers for the courses.


More than specific tools for engaging with users are announcements around shaping consumption of life saving technologies and innovating to achieve novel approaches to the market.  In this case our efforts of putting super high technology into the hands of medical professionals is well underway at St. Jude's hospital.  In this engagement, we've put the power of a particle accelerator into a medical treatment device.  The result is a "proton knife" that can carefully treat cancers with minimal damage to nearby sensors.  Another example is our work with Johnson Controls, where we aim to have them take a 60% control in a Joint Venture that will result in expanded commercial outcomes for joint air handling inventions.  According to a Johnson Controls leader: "Technology leadership derived from its ongoing investments in research and development have established Hitachi as a key contributor to the global HVAC*1 industry," said Alex Molinaroli, president and chief executive officer, Johnson Controls. "The addition of these capabilities adds key technologies to our product portfolio. Combined with our existing $15 billion building technologies and services business, this investment positions Johnson Controls as the world's largest commercial air conditioning provider."



With the announcement of Hitachi again being one of BCG's most innovative companies we're proud of that fact.  Further whether it is the announcement of Pentaho, the acquisition global rail assets in Italy, robotics or advanced life saving MRI devices, we believe we're flexing our innovation muscles.  And as the term innovation implies it is more than just by inventing the next potential best thing, we're making an impact on society from saving individual lives, to improving the quality of warehouse workers and more.  Here's to our placement on next year's list as a reflection of our innovation progress.