Michael Hay

On being recognized, externally, as a top innovator

Blog Post created by Michael Hay Employee on Nov 12, 2014

I'm proud to say that Hitachi was recognized as a top innovator in the 2014 edition of the BCG Perspectives (of Boston Consulting Group fame) Most Innovative Companies report.  Specifically, Hitachi entered the list at number 37 for 2014, and I think as we progress our business in 2015 you'll see us persist and move up the list.  To that point, today within the report we are perceived only as an Information Communications Technology (ICT) company and not as a Social Innovation engine.  I believe this represents older thinking in the market on both the aggregate Hitachi progression globally and the mission of Hitachi Data Systems.  For example on October 23rd we announced the acquisitions of two companies, Pantascene and Avrio, expanding our mission, beyond ICT, into the area of Public Safety.  Additionally, we've publicly talked about teams being set up to expand the mission including early exposure to works with companies like JDSU to help make real the Internet of Things that Matter.


When I review the collateral from the BCG report beyond being proud to be on the list, I'm struck by how much well presented information is available at your fingertips.  Given that we have users/customers who are continuously evaluating and reevaluating us, and other companies they partner with, I think that the comprehensive nature of the BCG Perspectives methodology and resulting work speaks for itself.  For example as a hypothetical decision maker the materials on the Most Innovative Companies report allows one to discern the pedigree of the company over time with respect to the level of innovativeness.  Further BCG's report helps to raise some interesting insights such as why there were significant changes in the quantity and type of automotive companies on the list.  To me this implies that application of their methodology affords them the chance to facilitate critical thinking in the reader, essential for a decision maker.


I do want to break from the good news to talk about why being recognized by BCG Perspectives is so important.  If you Google "2014 most innovative companies" you'll find the BCG Perspectives report as the 8th result below similar studies at Forbes and FastCompany.  So is a list just a list or is it something more?  I answered this myself by looking at the methodologies and content behind the works from MIT Technology Review, FastCompany, Forbes and BCG.  At a coarse level BCG and Forbes1 derive their reports from original research on the topic, while MIT2 and FastCompany3 don't really report on their approach in detail.  Since my intention here isn't to assassinate the works from any of these organizations, I need to get back to the point I started this paragraph with: why being recognized by BCG Perspectives is so important.  I believe that a direct answer to this question can be derived from the previous paragraph; namely, the report as significant information available and a solid presentation style which enables critical thinking, deep questions and ultimately robust information for decision makers.


Returning to the good news, I do think that connecting several activities will help you see what we're up to and better explain why I think we'll persist and move up next year's list.  As I recently suggested in Innovation Center Updates we've begun to talk about what we're doing with Open Source, and there have been some recent organizational changes that will ultimately result in a structured Open Innovation program.  Moreover you'll find there are more APIs on our offerings than we've had in the past; specifically, we sport Cinder on block and NAS storage, RESTful APIs on UCP, HCP, plus HCS, more platforms are coming, and we're enabling users to consume our kit programmatically.  Additionally,  you'll find that over the past year we (as in Hitachi) have been engaging Qatar for desalination efforts (News Releases : November 6, 2014 : Hitachi Global), with Hitachi Research plus National Health Services in the UK (News Releases : April 18, 2013 : Hitachi Global), and at HDS in the area of Optical (BluRay) Storage (Next generation of optical storage offers a big data option -- Defense Systems).  The last item, BluRay, is interesting because I think it sheds some light on fundamentally how we plan to realize an Open Innovation program.


Almost two years ago we started to work with a motivated Hitachi Group company and a motivated set of partners both interested in Optical storage.  We were able to establish early access to the optical array allowing our partners to do the first set of integration activities, to the array, with their solution sets.  This allowed us (partner plus HDS) to validate the market-worthiness of the offering and gain insight into how we plan to develop the business value chain and market for optical storage.  Since then we've seen a confluence of market activities from Facebook and other suppliers who see that the market viability of optical storage is developing rapidly.  If we use this visible example, the general approach for Open Innovation was to identify an interesting set of technologies, complete with a partner/customer to build the total solution, and carefully commercialize.  While I'm sure that the mechanics will materialize differently for a more general Open Innovation program I do believe that joint innovations with the market are where the Open Innovation program will head.


There are also other threads of innovation that we're unleashing, such as overt market development of Social Innovation (you can kind of think of this as our branded version of IoT) in specific vertical areas like Telecommunications, Public Safety, Healthcare, and Energy  -- if only I could spill more of the beans.   Interestingly, an Open Innovation program, vertically oriented Social Innovation, and other threads of innovation illustrate a Hitachi well beyond BCG's measurement of our innovation capabilities.   So our developments beyond ICT are precisely why I'm so bullish on our potential and believe we'll persist and climb BCG's top innovator's list!



  1. There is a blog post summarizing both BCG and Forbes approaches over at Forbes, which quickly reveals that both BCG and Forbes use financial measures to help rate innovation.
  2. MIT appears to use a nomination process.
  3. As to FastCompany Barbara Farfan's observation regarding their approach is quoted below.  (Yes I know that the comment is related to retail, but it is honestly the only thing that I could find.  If you can point me to a careful documentation of their approach please comment and I will correct.)

    The annual Most Innovative Retailing Companies list is fascinating, even though the rankings within the list are seemingly completely subjective. Perhaps the Fast Company pickers and rankers use some methodology that is more scientific than because-we-said-so, but if they do, it's not a methodology that they feel is worth publishing. (World’s Most Innovative Retail Companies 2014 - Fast Company Rankings of Innovation in Large and Small Companies from Al…)