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We've transformed from a tech company to more of a marketing one: Vivekanand Venugopal, Hitachi

12-January-2018
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We've transformed from a tech company to more of a marketing one: Vivekanand Venugopal, Hitachi

Vivekanand Venugopal, Managing Director, Vice President and General Manager of Hitachi, a company that transformed itself from being a technology and engineering company to being more a marketing company, tells us about the way the brand has evolved and its current positioning in the market. Excerpts:

You’ve been here for almost two decades. How has Hitachi been doing overall?

Hitachi has been recognized as the number one storage infrastructure company in the industry. Customers who did not want any data loss and wanted reliability to be at the core of everything they did to support their businesses, those were typically our customers. If you take the top 10 banks, telecoms or IT companies, they all invested with Hitachi to implement enterprise storage infrastructure solution. About 20 years back, our biggest references were our existing customers. Being the only company in enterprise storage infrastructure, we had a very strong positioning in the marketplace. We provided 100% data availability. Those days we used to drive thought leadership by working with analysts like Gartner or IDC or The 451 group.

Right now, I’d say about 85 to 90% of customers are very well educated because of their reach in social media. It helps them to make a lot of decisions. Given that situation now, we have now transformed ourselves from being a technology company and an engineering company to being more of a marketing company. We now address digital advertising and write a lot of top reader blog series. We do have a lot of social posts and promotions primarily to engage, leveraging LinkedIn or search algorithms available with Google, and of course, we do a lot of executive events, lot of webcasts to educate our customers.

How is the market that Hitachi is in right now? Do you have any direct competition?

There is definitely a lot of competition from traditional players and also new players that have come into the market. But what we have sustained with us is the purpose of Hitachi. The purpose of Hitachi is to create on technologies, products and solutions that drive social transformation. We call it the ‘double bottom line’ growth. It means that we will enable customers today to deploy their business outcomes and by doing that we will be able to transform society as well. This is a big differentiator today because we are a company which has been in the business for 107 years and we will have a strategy in place for the next 100 years as well because the thing that we’ve sustained for the past 107 years is a big differentiation.

But if you look at the marketplace today, it has evolved from buying products and technologies to buying value and outcomes. So we have transformed the way we have been positioning ourselves to now be a company that helps customers draw data driven outcomes. In terms of the other differentiations, we are positioning ourselves as a company that has about 107 years of operational technologies, 57 years of IT experience. That is the integration of IT and OT which is our biggest competitor advantage. In terms of some of the evolving technologies that we’ve done, the business has moved back its brand as the IT organisation. If you look at Hitachi, we have a number of unique technologies. For example, to increase collaboration among all our teams, we have invested in the number one CRM platform which is Salesforce.com. This platform supports direct and indirect sales, integrates marketing, finance and services to enable the simplification, the scalability and agility of our engagement with our customers and thereby we are able to increase the sales, marketing, finances and productivity to accelerate our business advantage in our market place.

How was 2017 for Hitachi?

2017 has been a great year for us. Firstly, we repositioned our company from Hitachi Datasystems to Hitachi Vantara. We are now an IT analytics and operational technologies company helping customers drive data driven outcomes and the results have been quite phenomenal. Our analytics portfolio grew more than 100%. Our content management portfolio grew more than 60% YoY. And our software and services contribution which was 50% grew to 62%. I think that’s a very good testimony that our customers have aligned or we have aligned with what our customers want to achieve by focussing on business outcomes as opposed to buying technologies or products.

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