Data is at the core of growth and development today. Enterprises, hence, are focussing on leveraging state-of-the-art data analytics and management tools to enhance efficiencies and deliver better to customers. Besides, channel partners play a crucial role in effective service delivery. In an exclusive conversation with CRN India, Kevin Purcell, Head-Global Strategic Partnerships, Hitachi Vantara brought to light opportunities in the Indian IT market, their efforts on strengthening their partner ecosystem in India, and Hitachi’s green initiatives.
Just days back, a research firm Giga OM named Hitachi Vantara market leader in unstructured data management for the third consecutive year, so what’s your success mantra?
Since Giga Om named us a ‘market leader’ in the unstructured data management domain for the third consecutive year, a lot of attention has been turned towards us recently. I think, it is a testament to the Hitachi Vantara that we are being recognised for just a part of what we do day in and day out. We really listen to our customers and our partners to understand their requirements in-depth and what kind of business outcomes they are looking for.
Moreover, in my perspective, HCP is a portfolio of products that can really make a key difference for our customers around operational efficiency, cost takeout, and being able to do the things that they really wanted to do with the data, which is what we’re all about.
As you mentioned that HCP is a portfolio of products. So, would you elaborate on this a little?
Yes, it is a portfolio of products that is really focused on bringing data-driven outcomes to our customers and partners. I always say ‘and partners’ because they are as important to us as our end customers. Further, it is an ever-enhancing portfolio of technology. We are looking to enhance every technology we provide to the marketplace including each and every generation of product that we bring to market.
Enterprises are compelled to look beyond traditional infrastructure and move toward a more flexible cloud-based approach for improved flexibility and agility. What are some cloud storage/infrastructure trends expected in the near future, especially for a country like India?
In India, there is tremendous growth going on. There has been a massive amount of data that is being brought to bear and the fact that the cloud offers or promises to offer lower cost, better efficiencies, and more capabilities, makes a big difference for businesses. Moreover, we have observed that many of our customers have actually over-pivoted to the cloud and now they are bringing some of the workloads back on-premise. We call that hybrid cloud, which could be public or private. It could also be multi-cloud as well, however, we are looking ahead to focus and double down on the hybrid cloud technology.
Considering the Indian market space, what are some of your best sellers and what new offerings are you coming up with?
If we take India into the picture, it is a market that we are highly interested in continuing to invest in. As a matter of fact, one-third of our employee base lives here. Over the last year, we actually had year-over-year growth of 63 percent in the Indian marketplace.
Besides, it is astounding that our product business actually grew 108 percent year-over-year, and our services grew around 6 percent. Therefore, if you look at how Hitachi is placed in the market, we have the enterprise segment which is really the majority of our legacy customers, and the commercial segment.
In the previous year, we have seen our enterprise segment grow by 41 percent in India and we witnessed over 200 percent growth in the commercial segment. Meanwhile, with the help of our system integrators, we are cutting down costs for our end customers which is further driving the growth of the cloud in India.
In addition, we are bringing in new functionality, new applications, and new areas of interest to our customers and at the same time delivering on our promise around the hybrid cloud. As far as future technologies are concerned, we are focused on investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As a matter of fact, we are working on close to 700 patents in that area. So, it is an exciting area for Hitachi Vantara as well as our customers.
With enormous investments coming in, the data centre market in India is growing at a fast pace. What unique opportunities for growth do you see in this sector?
AI and ML will definitely be a part of that future for us. We are going to see more cutting-edge technologies around data. Besides, I think we will see more multi-cloud and private/ public cloud offerings from Hitachi.
Further, many of our global system integrators will enhance their services to bring us to new markets. We are fortunate to have good relationships and partnerships with HCL, TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, and all of those India-based companies that have been critical to our success globally with the hybrid cloud approach.
What are some of the customer-centric initiatives that Hitachi Vantara is coming up with especially keeping in mind the Indian customer?
While looking at the end customers, we intend to drive more efficiencies. For example, banking. We are witnessing growth in that area wherein they bring in new applications frequently for their end customers to have new services. Also, we are seeing technological developments in the healthcare space that revamped the country’s healthcare. Another area is the public sector where we witnessed tremendous growth.
The good news is India’s government has opened up some areas for us to work with the technology perspective. Initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Made in India’ have really taken off for Hitachi in terms of not only our business but also new services and offerings.
Do you think that there should be some policy reforms when it comes to opening up more for foreign businesses and foreign companies to come and set up in India?
In my personal opinion, We have seen great success with many of the customers here in India. I wouldn’t have thought that there are luxury brands being introduced in the country. Over the last week, I’ve been driving to different cities, for work purposes, within India and I can’t imagine a Lamborghini or a Ferrari driving down the road. And, this will only be growing in the future.
Recently, the American IT giant Apple has made high investments and brought their store to India. Therefore, there are some really exciting times ahead for India.
India is a treasure. I think the people, the culture, the technology that comes from India is really going to take the world by storm.
To serve those customers better, you also need to have a strong partner network. So, how big is your network in India? What are some of the major initiatives you are taking for your channel partner network?
Hitachi Vantara has thousands of partners globally. We continue to enhance our partner portal which allows our partners and our potential partners to understand not only our partner programs but new initiatives as well. It also provides tools for them to sell more and to enhance their offerings with Hitachi technology. We are actually putting in tools that turn pricing around faster for partners. It also gives them the ability to register deals which means that they get price protection for their end customers.
There is a lot that we are doing for our partners, and what we are seeing year in and year out is that the partner community is growing by the day.
Can you share a few initiatives that could give your partners a little edge and a better reason to sell Hitachi more than the other competition?
Digital transformation, green initiatives, and innovation, I look at these three areas as key areas for our partner community. The global system integrators that we work with are talking to people at the board level and people at the C- level. They are, what I would call, the top of the arrow. They developed the requirements, work with their senior leadership at their customer base to identify where the companies want to go to get competitive advantages and provide them with Hitachi technology to help make that a reality.
To address sustainability as well, Hitachi Vantara is looking to actually drop our carbon to zero by 2030. We have made that commitment. We will replicate the same for the rest of our supply chain and our value chain by 2050.
I was recently in Egypt at the COP 27 event which in Sharm El-Sheikh actually had dignitaries from around the world talking about how to save the planet. We actually had many of our global system integrator partners there, speaking side by side with Hitachi to many customers and many companies on trying to save the planet and to really focus on sustainability as a priority. So, we are driving more and more business around green data centers and we are very much focused on that because that is part of our culture.