Trends and Challenges of Digital Transformation

By Greg Gorbach

Category:
Technology Trends

Digital transformation technologies formed the crux of many conversations at the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando.  While interviewing John Magee, VP Marketing Digital Solutions, Hitachi Vantara, ARC’s Greg Gorbach, Vice President, asked him about his role in the company, the industries they focus on, trends in digital transformation, and the obstacles faced.  This blog focuses on the key points and quotes of the interview.  You can watch it here and/or on YouTube.

Offerings Portfolio

Responding to Greg’s query on his role at Hitachi Vantara, John said that he leads the marketing for the Digital Solutions Group.  This Group delivers the Lumada platform, which is the data and analytics platform; and provides IoT solutions, like maintenance insights, manufacturing insights, video insights, and so on.  The company also has a strong consulting and advisory services capability. They work with customers on their digital transformation agendas and get into a lot of their applications and cloud optimization.  “So, the company rationalizes what's on-premise, what's in the cloud, as well as ERP systems.  And increasingly in the way those are getting involved in the factory, supply chain and other issues; and the integrations that occur.  So that's the portfolio that we're taking to market,” said John.

Industry Focus

The Hitachi Group has a broad industry focus, that includes energy and utilities, transportation, and manufacturing.  The company is one of the largest manufacturers in the world with many manufacturing sites.  Hitachi’s Omika Works factory was recently recognized as a Lighthouse factory for its application of digital technologies.  Besides effectively combining OT and IT capabilities around data management and applications, the company also discusses customer critical issues, such as outcomes, vertical KPIs and so on.

Customer Trends and Challenges of Digital Transformation

Change is evident, and it’s an exciting phase, according to John.  Digital technologies are foraying into the OT space; and in the last two years or so there’s been a visible shift in approach as many customers are tackling it much more strategically.  Previously, technologies were deployed after proof-of-concepts, pilot projects (on the factory floor/operational efficiency) etc. proved successful.  But now, organizations are adopting a top-down approach, and there are board level initiatives about transformational strategies. John elaborated further that “the term digital transformation sounds like you're going from this state to a new state, but the reality is you're going from the old way of doing things to a much more agile approach.”  This creates systemic changes to the technology, the culture, approaches, and the business processes.   So, all the people involved are now thinking more holistically about projects that are going to be transformational and serving customers in new ways. 

Another trend is the shift from a project mindset (after project completion, the team moves on), to an application approach.  The latter approach is about new ways of doing things as they evolve – it could be new algorithms, new data analytics, or new ways of customer interaction.  “This idea that we need an adaptive infrastructure that can be flexible, and that we're changing all the time to respond to new opportunities has been going on in IT for a while, and now it's really moving into OT,” said John.

Obstacles on the Digital Transformation Journey

“The obstacles on the digital transformation journey tend to vary by industry,” said John.  At the heart of Industrial IoT is the data, so the challenge lies in driving more actionable data.   This creates a whole bunch of new scenarios, especially because “we're dealing with that whole spectrum, that edge to core to cloud continuum.”  There’s a lot of complexity as you're collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and governing data.  “And that's an area that we have a lot of capability in, and we work with customers on how to optimize that, make it more efficient so that they can actually derive value out of the data,” concluded John.

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