Hitachi officials have said the massive multinational company, with its more than 950 subsidiaries, 333,000 employees and an R&D budget of $2.8 billion, already has a significant presence in the Internet of Things (IoT).
The company for decades has been building systems and devices in a broad range of industries—from energy and transportation to utilities, financial institutions, government and cities—and has developed technologies that have allowed these systems to communicate and to collect and analyze the data generated by them.
Last year, Hitachi generated $5.4 billion in revenue related to the IoT and offers 33 IoT solutions in a wide range of verticals. Officials estimate that 16,000 employees across the company have jobs related to the IoT. However, one issue has been that these IoT efforts have tended to be industry specific, with siloed offerings for the various verticals.
Company executives for the past year have talked about bringing the various IoT-related efforts under a single umbrella that would serve all of Hitachi’s vast businesses. At the Internet of Things World Conference and Expo May 10, company officials announced how they were going to put those desires into action. The company announced the creation of the Hitachi Insight Group, which will be headquartered in Santa Clara, California, and is charged with consolidating Hitachi’s IT and IoT solutions and strategies into a single organization.
As its first order of business, the 7,000-employee Hitachi Insight Group unveiled Lumada, its open and adaptable IoT platform that integrates the company’s various commercial technologies from across its various product portfolios. The result is a common platform that will include data orchestration capabilities, streaming analytics, content intelligence and simulation models, among other software technologies, according to officials.
It also will take advantage of Hitachi’s long history in both operational technology (OT) and IT, according to Sara Gardner, CTO, social innovation, Hitachi Insight Group.
“We have a long … history on the industry side,” Gardner told eWEEK. “But we also have a long history in IT, and this is one of the things that makes Hitachi so unique. … This is a solution-driven architecture to develop IoT solutions.”
Hitachi is hoping the combination of the new unit and IoT platform will help accelerate the adoption of IoT technologies in enterprises and industrial markets by offering an agile architecture that makes it simpler to create and customize solutions.
Hitachi’s new IoT business group and Lumada platform come as industry giants look to gain traction in a market that represents what IDC analysts say could be a $1.46 trillion opportunity by 2020. Estimates vary, but tech vendors Cisco Systems and Intel both expect the number of smart, connected devices and systems worldwide to reach more than 25 billion by 2020, with the number only going up after that. These devices will generate massive amounts of data that will need to be collected and analyzed.
Much of the early talk around the IoT focused on consumer devices and appliances, but analysts and vendor officials believe the business opportunity is much greater. General Electric almost two years ago announced Predix, a cloud-based platform aimed at the industrial Internet. Other tech companies also are looking to broaden their reach in the IoT; Hewlett Packard Enterprise at the show introduced its Universal IoT Platform.
Hitachi Insight Group will lead R&D and go-to-market efforts around the company’s IoT efforts and will focus on four key markets—smart cities, smart health care, smart energy and smart industry. The Lumada platform—based on technology inherited when Hitachi bought Pentaho in June 2015—will include edge analytics; data blending; analytics and simulation; and monitoring, security and visualization. The group also will collaborate with other IoT-related employees from various Hitachi divisions, including Hitachi Data Systems and Hitachi Consulting.
Hitachi officials envision that the Hitachi Insight Group will be able to develop IoT solutions to address a particular issue in an industry, and use those solutions as building blocks to develop new offerings to solve other IoT-related issues. The company also sees opportunities for partners to also take advantage of Lumada and eventually to develop their own solutions based on the platform, Gardner said.
Hitachi also has created its IoT Alliance Ecosystem, which includes such names as Intel, SAP, Microsoft, AT&T and PTC.
Keiji Kojima, senior vice president and executive officer at Hitachi Ltd., will also be CEO of the new Hitachi Insight Group. The new unit also has general managers for the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions, and executives for the China and Asia/Pacific regions will be named later this year, officials said.