Indian Government’s Progress in Digital India Program Has Been Extremely Impressive: Bob Madaio, Hitachi Vantara

The Digital India initiative has helped raise the consciousness of enterprises in the past few years

The Digital India initiative has helped raise the consciousness of enterprises in the past few years. Enterprises in India have started their digital transformation, but the first problem that they ran into was the ability to access their data.

Bob Madaio, VP – Infrastructure Solutions of Hitachi Vantara, in conversation with Sarabjeet Kaur. Excerpts:

BW CIO: What was the idea behind the creation of Hitachi Vantara?

Bob Madaio: Fundamentally, Hitachi Vantara is the collection of some of our key digital assets.The major bulk of the company from a revenue and people perspective, comes from Hitachi Data Systems.  We noticed that the core IT infrastructure, storage and software, were in separate companies, and that there was a lot more synergy that could be obtained by bringing them together. One of them included a company that was acquired a couple of years ago – Pentaho, that handles open source, data analytics and data blending. The other company that was set up to focus solely on IoT is called Hitachi Insight Group. We saw this opportunity to bring the technologies together and expand on the sales conversations together. 

BW CIO: How is the company accelerating digital transformation?

Bob Madaio: We are having conversations with our clients about data and are trying to get customers to think more about it. We help them understand the kind of infrastructure they need to bring in to their business models, the new types of data that must be derived, and the importance of blending data across systems. We help them derive meaningful business insights with their data and provide counselling to improve their production facilities by helping them store and process information. In a nutshell, we help elevate the conversations around data.

BW CIO: What solutions are you providing when it comes to IoT, analytics solutions, and data management?

Bob Madaio: For IoT, we have a platform on which customers can create their own solutions. We also have a software development kit called Avatars, and it is still in its nascent stage. There are some interesting proof of concepts with us on how to tie machines together for vertical solutions. 

We have implemented predictive maintenance for Caterpillar’s fleet of ship. It is the marine industry's provider of medium and high-speed marine diesel engines, generator sets and auxiliary engine. Other connected devices that we are dealing with includes video edge devices, and face analytics through software. We are making sure all Hitachi machines that are built are connected to the modus, so that it makes it easier to have a mix of multi-vendors.

The other thing we are doing in the analytics space is seeing how we can achieve more within the data center. We sell store systems, computers, networking devices and tons of sensors, which together generates a lot of information. So, if I could start to watch the performance of my system and capacity at really detailed levels, the question lies in whether I can automatically make changes and tie in other information. So, there is a lot going on, and out of the three elements, there will be more elements that will add on to the list.

BW CIO: What are the emerging IT trends that you see here in India, against the global backdrop?

Bob Madaio: The Digital India initiative has helped raise the consciousness a lot. The adoption of IoT platforms will dominate enterprise IT strategies in 2018, alongside a number of other areas.  Enterprises have started their digital transformation this year, but the first problem that they ran into was the ability to access their data. Data is often locked in isolated islands that make it costly to extract and use. Object storage now has the ability to be ‘smart’ with software that can search for and read content in multiple structured and unstructured data silos and analyze it for cleansing, formatting and indexing. 

One of the things that a lot of Indian customers are wrestling with is how regulations in other parts of the world, such as GDPR, affect them. Any Indian company who is working with the EU has to understand those regulations. That has been a topic of conversation, and I know India is opening up to the thought of adopting something similar.  There is also some learning around the analytics side. I’m not sure everyone has brought in a lot of analytics and open source yet in their environment, but they are certainly interested.

BW CIO: What are your views about the Digital India initiative of the Indian government?

Bob Madaio: Well, when the businesses in the country see the actions that the government is taking, they understand that there is a direction that they want to be a part of and drive. From what I have seen, as far as the amount of progress that has been made, it seems like the government is well ahead of what many people even understand outside of the country.  It is extremely impressive to see the progress that has been made here.

BW CIO: What solutions are you bringing in for India specifically?

Bob Madaio: In India specifically, using Hitachi systems we have helped the AP government apply real-time governance. It was in November 2017 that AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated Asia’s number one command control room of real-time governance, which has been built in the first block of the interim secretariat at Velagapudi. One of the key objectives was to have it on a single dashboard, called the command center. On a single dashboard, they can view the systems within the city. It could be as simple as electricity, waste management, and even reducing crime.

The main mission of Real-Time Governance (RTG) Centre was to handle all the important events and natural calamities on real-time basis, leveraging e-governance technology and electronic communication. The RTGS consists of a state centre and 13 district data centres. 

BW CIO: What solutions are you providing to your customers for increasing efficiency and lowering cost?

Bob Madaio: One example of increasing efficiency would be with automation. We have tools where you can populate it with templates. Another area where we help with the efficiency is data protection. A lot of time is wasted in backing up information especially information that never changes. By moving information into an object store, customers do not have to spend time backing all that information up every single day because it is not changing anymore. An object store is self-protecting like the cloud. In this way, a lot of efficiency is gained by not trying to back up 80 percent of the files that have not changed in a year. 

Things we do on cost includes assessments of people’s data on how much of it is truly active. That part is put in flash media which can be very expensive but very fast at the same time. Thus, help them tear that infrastructure, so that the application is matched with the data to increase efficiency. 

BW CIO: What are your go-to market strategies?

Bob Madaio: We are constantly transforming and seeing what we can do for our channel partner ecosystem. We have got co-creation, wherein, we sell storage and converging infrastructure, and core IT systems horizontally, but we are slowly moving to more of a vertical solutions model in order to work with manufacturing companies. So, one of the ways we do that is by working with our consulting arm. We work very deeply with some of the global systems integrators here in India, and are expanding the focus on that data conversation. That is why we need that expertise in the industry, otherwise our go-to market strategy remains on talking to the CIOs and the IT teams about their storage and data protection needs. We are trying to build more of that vertical expertise and that data conversation.

BW CIO: What differentiates Hitachi Vantara from its competitors?

Bob Madaio: Hitachi has over 107 years of OT experience and 58 years of IT experience. One of the obvious differentiators is that we have an expertise on how to use data in unique ways in order to derive at meaningful business outcomes. Our business has a horizontal focus, and we are beginning to partner with those vertical segments in order to bring that expertise to our customers.  

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