As of today, the company formerly known as Shoden Data Systems will officially trade in South Africa as Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).
“We are very proud of where we come from as Shoden, but we are very proud of being part of HDS,” says Shaun Barendsen, country manager of Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

Barendsen was addressing delegates at the Hitachi Innovation Forum held in Johannesburg today.

Shoden Data Systems was the South African distributor for HDS , Barendsen says. Having started as a small company, it had become a multi-million rand organisation by the time HDS started looking to enter the local market on its own.

“HDS saw value in the market share that we had built up in the South African market as well as the excellent relationships that we had with our clients,” he says. “They liked the way we did business and decided buy us.”

In February 2012, HDS completed the acquisition of Shoden Data Systems, with the exception of a share that is still held by a BEE partner and which gives the company a Level 4 preferential procurement rating.

The acquisition immediately put the local organisation into a different ballpark, Barendsen says. From a company of 170 people, it is now part of an organisation that numbers 6 000. And HDS is part of the larger Hitachi group, which employs 180 00 people around the world.

“The support we get from the global organisation is fantastic,” says Barendsen. “Not only is the support of the highest level, but we also benefit from the level of R&D that the organisation undertakes across all of its product lines.”

Although storage is still the “sweet spot” for HDS, Barendsen explains that the business is now more concerned with data and how companies are using it.

The value offering now is about turning data into information and the advice we can give to clients to help them achieve this.

“The backbone of HDS’s offering is still storage – but it’s not so much about moving blocks of data around, but about moving up the value stack.:
What HDS provides is an end to end platform for data, allowing companies to not only store and manage it, but also search and analyse it. The end game is to use a variety of information sources in big data analysis where companies can better understand their customers in order to tailor products and services that will increase their competitiveness and profitability.

“Companies around the world are all facing the same issues,” Barendsen says. “These are the massive growth of data and the difficulty of managing it; how to get information out of that data, which becomes more difficult as the variety of data sources grows; and complexity as organisations try to get different and disparate systems to interact.”

The value of the data is becoming more and more relevant, he adds, with data not ranking just behind people as most organisations’ most valuable asset.

Despite the hype that big data has enjoyed over the past months, and the value that organisations can get from it, Barendsen points out that many South African companies are sill failing to take advantage of the technologies that can help them unlock this value.

“In South Africa, CIOs are thinking about it, but they are still debating whether the can get the right level of business benefit at the right cost.

“Although very few companies are currently using big data, many of them are asking questions now about what it would mean to the business.

“I think companies to do a what-if exercise and this will help them recognise the value and make decisions around big data.”

With cost standing as one of the major stumbling blocks for CIOs to undertake new projects, Barendsen believes that HDS’s tools to help calculate and reduce the total cost of ownership, particularly at the infrastructure layer, will help companies build a solid foundation for new data projects.