Hitachi Next 2017: Newly Minted Hitachi Vantara Must Assert its Unique Differentiators to Succeed with Industrial IoT Plan

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

• At its 2017 NEXT conference Hitachi announced the creation of a new business division, Hitachi Vantara, and a revamped strategy to target opportunities in industrial IoT.

• To succeed Hitachi must overcome several challenges, including the communication of the new Vantara brand and the assertion of its chief competitive differentiators.

Hitachi’s 2017 NEXT conference in Las Vegas was a pivotal event for the Tokyo-based multinational. Hitachi announced the creation of a new, wholly owned but independently managed business division, Hitachi Vantara, and a revamped strategy to target opportunities in the field of industrial and enterprise Internet of Things (IoT). Hitachi Vantara combines three former Hitachi businesses: Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), a provider of data center infrastructure solutions; Hitachi Insight, which was launched in May 2016 to advance Hitachi’s IoT initiatives; and Pentaho, which Hitachi acquired in May 2016 and specializes in big data integration and analytics solutions.

According to Hitachi, the move to establish Hitachi Vantara effectively formalized cooperation that was already occurring between the individual Hitachi businesses – particularly in relation to IoT. Hitachi Vantara will aim to leverage innovation, development initiatives and experience from across the Hitachi group to target emerging industrial IoT (IIoT) opportunities. Hitachi’s experience includes more than 100 years as a provider of operational technologies (OT) for industries ranging from finance and government to manufacturing, energy and transportation. It also includes more than 50 years of experience as a provider of IT offerings that include data center solutions such as storage and converged platforms.

As it targets IIoT opportunities, Hitachi will compete more frequently with Dell EMC, HPE, Lenovo and Huawei, all of which are extending their solutions portfolios beyond data center infrastructure to include a focus on enabling enterprise IoT initiatives. Hitachi will also face competition from GE, which, like Hitachi, is leveraging its experience of working with specific verticals to target IIoT opportunities.

To succeed in the fast-changing market for IIoT solutions, Hitachi must overcome several challenges, which include the effective communication of the new Vantara brand and full range of solution capabilities to potential customers, and the assertion of Hitachi Vantara’s main competitive differentiators. Among Hitachi Vantara’s differentiators is its ability to draw on a wealth of experience as a provider of both OT and IT solutions tailored to the needs of individual verticals. Another is the vendor’s focus on “collaborative creation” (co-creation), a process that involves working alongside customers to develop bespoke solutions that support an enterprise’s specific requirements. A third differentiator is Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada IoT software platform, which will play a central role in the company’s evolving IoT strategy. At its NEXT 2017 event, Hitachi announced version 2.0 of the Lumada software, which includes new AI and analytics capabilities, as well as the ability to run it on-premises or in the cloud and to support industrial IoT deployments both at the edge and in core data centers.

Other solutions and initiatives announced at NEXT 2017 include a new IoT appliance powered by Lumada software, a smart data center solution (Hitachi Vantara Strengthens Its Data Center Management Prowess with a New Vision and Solution) and a new family of converged infrastructure systems that will support the vendor’s broader IoT strategy (Hitachi Vantara’s New Converged Infrastructure Portfolio Will Bolster Its Industrial IoT Goal).

The overall impression from this year’s NEXT event is that Hitachi has carefully thought through its IIoT strategy and product roadmap. Along with the differentiators outlined above, this calculated approach should help the vendor steadily grow its business among target markets. The fact that Hitachi is relatively late to market with a company-wide IIoT strategy compared with other vendors reflects a deliberate process by Hitachi of calculating the opportunity and identifying where its strengths lie. Far from being a shortcoming, this approach should pay off in the long run.


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