Since our Connect 2015 event last month in Las Vegas where we displayed a number of Social Innovation solutions, I have had a lot of questions about what we mean by Social Innovation and how it compares to other similar strategies.
All these ideas are similar in that they try to define a new strategy for leveraging the third wave of information technology where IT has moved out to the edge, creating smarter products and everything is connected through the cloud. IDC defines this as a platform built on social, mobile, analytics, and cloud.
I blogged about the way HDS defines Social Innovation several weeks ago and showed a photo of our CEO Jack Domme delivering this definition of Social Innovation to our Hitachi and Hitachi Data Systems sales and leadership teams, our partners, analysts, and media at Connect 2015.
If you break down what Jack is saying about Social Innovation, you see that the basic goal is to:
Deliver innovative solutions to global markets for the enrichment of society.
This means that we want to enrich society by making it safer, smarter, and healthier on a global basis so that, for example, a child in less developed areas can enjoy the same opportunities as a child in more developed areas. Our goal is not to build smart factories, or even a smart planet. Our goal is enrich society and help businesses as well as individuals thrive in this environment on a global basis.
Aligning our broad technology capabilities with our industry expertise
What makes Hitachi unique is that we have much broader technical capabilities and industry expertise than any other company today. Today, we have global IT companies that provide IT solutions; and we have global industrial organizations pursuing the opportunity around Internet of Things. Only Hitachi does both. Other IT companies do not build trains, or proton therapy machines to destroy cancer cells. Innovation in information technology is not going to enrich society unless it also leads to innovation in social infrastructure. Other leading companies in industrial systems do not have the depth that Hitachi has in Information technology
When the UK intercity train system needed to transition from aging 60-year-old diesel trains to cleaner, faster electric trains without disrupting service, Hitachi created a “virtual” train that could run diesel or electric and could be converted to the lighter electric trains for less wear on the tracks when all the tracks were converted. Hitachi also converted their Shinkansen bullet train control system that has been running since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics without any fatalities, to the European Train Control system. By using big data analytics of the sensors built into the train and the train control system Hitachi is able to take on billions of euros of capital risk and provide this as a “train as a Service”. No other company has the broad technology capabilities or the 50 years of industry expertise to provide such an innovative solution. The social benefits are cleaner, safer, more efficient transportation that can enable people to work in mega cities like London and still enjoy the life style of a home in the villages.
According to Porter and Heppelmann in the Harvard Business Review published in November of last year:
“Smart, connected products have three core elements: physical components, “smart” components, and connectivity components. Smart components amplify the capabilities and value of the physical components, while connectivity amplifies the capabilities and value of the smart components and enables some of them to exist outside the physical product itself. The result is a virtuous cycle of value improvement.” While most technology companies are focusing on smart components and cloud connectivity. Hitachi also has the ability to innovate on the physical components themselves.
The ultimate goal for Hitachi is not only to build smart connected products, but to create social innovations that make the world Safer, Smarter and Healthier on a global level.