India has one of the largest and fastest growing urban populations in the world. The government has recognised that India will need a transformational approach to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation. The biggest challenge while building smart cities will be the current state of infrastructure in the country. Adrian De Luca, chief technology officer, Asia Pacific, Hitachi Data Systems, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction that with the Digital India and smart city initiative, the government is building confidence not only for the local companies to expand and invest in India but also global companies such as Hitachi to make significant investments in the country. Excerpts:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a slew of measures such as the Digital India plan to streamline public service offerings and make government functioning efficient and transparent. What is your take on it and how could Hitachi partner with the government in this initiative?
The vision to digitise India is one of the most exciting initiatives the country has embarked on in the recent past and will be the key to help us leapfrog into the 21st century. Technology and IT is at the epicentre of the governments’ initiative to create ‘Digital India’ and it has now become as essential as water, gas, and electricity. The Indian government is building confidence not only for the local companies to invest in India, but also MNCs such as Hitachi to invest in the country.
India is a very important market for Hitachi and we believe that there is tremendous opportunity in the market. India has the right skill set and a spirit of entrepreneurship which will enable us to provide exciting technology that has the potential to transform the lives of the Indian citizens.
Hitachi is excited to partner with the government to bring about the transition to the country. HDS’ global expertise in smart technology and information infrastructure gives us a comparative edge in the Indian market. We have a strong relationship with our global system integrators such as Infosys, TCS, etc. and are working towards strengthening this relationship. With cloud technology being critical for this initiative, HDS can provide community clouds, government based clouds, etc. which can be leveraged to help this initiative. Our hyper converged and analytics platform can also be used to help the government build its technology infrastructure.
What is the way forward for the government to build smart cities? How can the industry be involved to make sure that this initiative is implemented successfully?
With the Digital India and the smart city initiative, the government is building confidence not only for the local companies to expand and invest in India but also global companies such as Hitachi to make significant investments in the country. India has one of the largest and fastest growing urban populations in the world. The government has recognised that India will need a transformational approach to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation. The biggest challenge while building smart cities will be the current state of infrastructure in the country. However, this can be tackled successfully as there is a strong political will for the country to progress.
There needs to be a strong dialogue between the industry and the government to discuss the challenges likely to be faced in implementing these initiatives. Together, we can come up with a feasible solution to tackle these issues. For example, I was part of the National Cloud Community advising on the Federal government in Australia where they put together a panel of government and industry bodies to discuss the issues that were being faced and we proposed solutions which were implemented successfully. This is the level of dialogue that will help India progress as a country.
Talk to us about some key technology trends and how HDS is aligned with them to address the requirements of the industry?
In India, the banking sector will witness rapid adoption of technology as they are looking to invest in mobile platforms. Some of the key technology trends are:
Internet of Things (IoT): The new world of IoT will create an explosion of new information, which can be used to create a better world. Big Data will be more about the Internet of Things with machine to machine communications, which will have a bigger impact on our lives
Emergence of hybrid cloud: Companies are expected to increase their investments in hybrid cloud as an increased adoption of a hybrid cloud can simplify the public and private cloud mix through a single provider is quickly becoming a popular business solution
With new regulations governing data privacy and protection, businesses will increase compliance-related investments
Increased adoption of Flash technology: In 2015, we will see the displacement of solid state devices (SSD) that were designed for the commodity PC market with enterprise flash modules that are enhanced with the processing power that is required to address enterprise storage requirements for performance, durability and capacity
Increase in adoption of converged solutions: Mobility, cloud, social, and Big Data are four macro trends that will drive sustainable business growth and will require stronger IT and business collaboration. CIO’s will become more astute in regards to the business drivers around these trends; they will invest more of their budgets in business driven initiatives and businesses will control more of the IT spend. We will see greater investment in management automation tools. Provisioning of applications and orchestration of workloads will be done based on templates.
All the technology vendors are talking about social media, cloud, analytics and Big Data. What is the technology differentiator that HDS brings to the table?
HDS’ solutions are cost effective and can be deployed quickly. Our experience of working closely with government and other companies across countries has given us a competitive edge in the market. Also, our focus on innovation and our investment in R&D is a big technology differentiator. HDS works with the leading IT/ITeS, BFSI and telecom companies in India, which has given us an in-depth understanding of their business. Most importantly
Hitachi understands Big Data as we build the machines that generate it. All our solutions leverage this deep understanding of the industry to provide integrated technology solutions that meet the specific needs of these sectors.
Can you tell us about the company’s focus on innovation and R&D?
Hitachi has a huge focus on innovation and R&D. Traditionally our R&D work has been around certifying solutions, ISVs etc. and we are looking to expand this, with multiple levels of R&D interests. In India, we are looking to partner with our GSIs to create innovative solutions. For example, with TCS, we have jointly developed an enterprise mobility solution which showcases our focus on creating innovative solutions.
Do you think that a CIO can take charge as a CEO?
Definitely, the recent HDS-EIU survey suggests that most of the respondents in the industry believe that a CIO can take charge as the next CEO. The findings reveal that the modern CIO has a strategic role that goes beyond just managing the IT function. 84% of the respondents agree that the CIO should be involved in all business-critical decisions at an early stage.
CIOs work in an industry that is volatile, they deliver products and solutions at a fast pace. There are now plenty of opportunities for ambitious CIOs to make their mark on the business and take charge as the next CEO.