NEXT 2019: Day 2 of A Continuing Journey To Powering Good

By Hubert Yoshida posted 10-21-2019 23:09


In my previous blog post on NEXT 2019, I summarized the amazing new announcements that were covered in the general session. This session was only 2 hours, but it covered six major new announcement that will change the course of innovation in storage systems performanceAI Driven OperationsCloud ServicesLumada Edge Intelligence,  
Lumada Data Services , and Lumada Data Lake.

The next day’s General Session was an equally amazing session where we heard much more about “what’s now, what’s next and what’s POWERING GOOD.” Under “what’s now” we met the four winners of our Hitachi Transformation Awards, who are true data pioneers. We also learned about Hitachi’s Happiness Project. We heard from a Disney Executive on how Hitachi is helping Disney create the happiest place on earth using Lumada Edge for maintenance and safety on their amusement rides. We also learned how we “drink our own champagne” by using our own solutions to improve our business. The “what’s next session introduced three technologies which will have a major impact on the future of technology and society. In “What’s Powering Good we learned how Hitachi Vantara is powering good at the world’s largest commercial electric vehicle project, in a wildlife conservatory in Africa, and in rainforests across three continents. To end the session, we met Alex Honnold, the only person to free solo climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, to hear how he tackles extraordinarily challenging situations to push the limits of human achievement. 

What’s Now. In this post I will give a brief summary of this part of the session then in subsequent post I will cover, “What’s Next” and “What’s Powering Good.

Transformation Awards
One of the major attractions at Hitachi’s NEXT events are the Transformation Awards which showcase Hitachi customers who use Hitachi group solutions to drive economic, social and environmental impact. Award winners were nominated from among Hitachi’s customer base spanning more than 70 countries worldwide. This year, Hitachi Vantara acknowledged customers in the following categories: Enterprise Business Transformation, Data Insights Optimization, Social Innovation and Environmental Sustainability. The winners were:
Enterprise Business Transformation: Vironova:
Vironova is a Swedish biotechnology company who brings new medications to market quickly and safely through the use of electron microscopy providing comprehensive hardware, software, and services for the analysis of nanoparticles to shorten the pharmaceutical development cycle.
Data Insights Optimization: Precision Drilling Corporation
Precision Drilling is a Canadian oil drilling company that provides oil drilling rig services for the oil and gas industry. Oil drilling is an industry where every second counts. Drilling an oil well is like running a factory. Automating the drilling process requires the integration of IoT data from drilling operations with business information in order to save time and increase performance and safety and reduce environmental impact.
Social Innovation: Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company: 
Dai-Ichi Life is a major insurance company in Japan. Dai-Ichi Life is working with Hitachi to transform the data that they collect for maintenance and payments to determine how prevention could not only improve people’s quality of life, but also reduce the risk factors based on data. This will enable more people to be insured for the assurance of their loved one, based on data and not on intuition and experience.
Environmental Sustainability: Optimise Prime
To reach carbon-reduction targets and accelerate the transition to commercial electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK, the world’s largest commercial EV project was formed by Hitachi, Centrica, Royal Mail, UK Power Networks (UKPN), Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and Uber. The Optimise Prime consortium aims to help businesses overcome the challenges with the electrification of commercial fleets, minimize the impact these vehicles will have on the electricity networks and help the UK plan and prepare for the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

The Happiness Project
Dr. Kazuo Yano is a fellow and corporate officer of Hitachi, Ltd., and is the leader of the
Happiness Project in the Future Investment division of Hitachi. He is known as a pioneer from his early work in the area of semiconductors and AI. In 2003, his research focus shifted to sensors and sensor networks and measuring and analyzing big data. A wearable sensor developed by Dr. Yano and his research team was introduced in the September 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review, which featured the history of wearable sensors. 

Dr Yano has succeeded in measuring Happiness. Happy people move about more randomly than unhappy people. The amount of time from when a person starts to move and then stops to move can vary widely. Unhappy people’s length of movement will be very uniform. He initially measured this with a badge that contained an accelerometer. Now that can be measured on a smart phone. At the conference he proved an App which measured our movements and happiness. Over the past 16 years, Dr. Yano had studies which showed that happy people were more productive and that the sum of people’s happiness was the result of making others happy. 

The Happiness Project, which is being undertaken by the Future Investment Division of Hitachi, supports workstyle reform, and takes the form of open innovation by user participation to help create a more human-centric society. Hitachi is a pioneer in using new sources of workplace data to unleash higher levels of performance, unlocking trapped value in the business and improving the lives of employees. Dr. Yano believes that technology for happiness unleashes limitless possibility for people, cities, and the planet.

The Happiest Place
When my children were little, I remember the happiness we felt as a family when we visited Disneyland. Michael Tschanz, Director of Technology and Analysis for the Walt Disney Company, followed Dr. Yano to describe how they are using Lumada Edge to collect data to simulate and analyze ride attractions like “Slinky Dog” for safety, maintenance and efficient operations. One of the attributes of Lumada Edge that was cited was that it was open. It is not a proprietary walled garden. Mr. Tschanz took us through the architecture of how the rides are monitored and how the alerts and warning were visualized and provided to the maintenance workers on prem, in real time. The other advantage that was recognized was Hitachi’s operational knowledge and experience with pumps, motors, sensors, contacts, which is in Hitachi’s DNA. To Mr. Tschanz, it is all about collecting the data and creating experiences to make the world a happier place.

Drinking Our Own Champagne
There was a candid panel discussion led by Bill Schmarzo, CTO, IoT & Analytics for Hitachi Vantara with Renee Lahti, Hitachi Vantara CIO and Jonathan Martin, Hitachi Vantara CMO. Renee described how she obtained funding to create a data lake. After the creation of the data lake the magic that was expected to happen did not materialize. So she put a stop to the project. It was not a technology problem. Something in the framework methodology was missing. So, she had to unlearn and restart the project. She teamed up with Jonathan to apply data science to ingest the right data in order to model the digital buyer’s journey. Jonathan wanted to create an ML model to increase incremental sales based on data. They started by gathering people from across the organization who could collaborate with each other to determine what models needed to be built and what data they needed to train and feed the models. They built the models using our Lumada Data Lake, Lumada Data Services, the VSP 5000, and Pentaho. Their first use case was developed in less than five months to increase the incremental sales of the VSP 5000. Based on the prescriptive results of the model, this use case is predicting $28 M in incremental lift in sales of the VSP 5000 over two years with over 90% accuracy. Early sales have fit very well with this model. The data used in this use case can be applied to other use cases that are being developed at no extra cost.

Summary of Now
All these topics, Transformation Awards, The Happiness Project, The Happy Place, and Drinking our own Champagne was all covered in a little over a half hour. I feel that we only scratched the surface and so I will be coming back to go more in depth on some of these topics. My  post will be on “What’s Next” where we hear about 5G, XAI, and a new approach to Quantum Computing.