In the ever-changing and increasingly dynamic business world, innovation is the word on every executive’s lips as organisations look for ways to make themselves more relevant, competitive and profitable.
Tony Reid, EMEA pre-sales director at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), speaking at the Hitachi Innovation Forum being held today (20 August) in Johannesburg, says HDS can help companies to achieve this.

Customers are telling HDS that they are worried about coping with growth, staying within budget, return on investment (ROI) and increasing complexity.

“Our job is to help you resolve those issues,” he says. “In terms of cost, a quick ROI has become paramount – it’s important to justify investment.”

There are many new technologies permeating our lives. Big data is one, and mobile is another.
“All of these generate a lot more data, and a lot more potential for your business. Big data is about generating new opportunities for your business.”

Ninety percent of the data stored today has been generated over the last two years. And a lot of machine generated data is in the market now.

“One of the questions is if our technology can cope with the enormous growth affecting our businesses. The answer is probably not, and we need to think about how we structure our systems going forward.”
There is such growth in unstructured data that companies very often can’t see the wood for the trees, he adds – with growth rates of close to 60% per year.

This change in structured and unstructured is important and will continue to accelerate.
“We need to think about separating volume of data from meta data so we can process it.”

Business generated data was the challenge of the past. What’s happening in social media is a challenge today, says Reid. Companies are starting to measure sentiment in social media and developing products based on that analysis.
“Social media is really interesting,” he says.

HDS is not an automatic choice when it comes to big data vendors, he adds, but IDC positions the company as an important player. Machine-generated data potential is also vast, and companies have to cope with the velocity and volume of that data, he adds.

HDS presents an integrated strategy that starts with a reliable infrastructure cloud. This is probably where HDS is best known right now.

Virtualisation is a key piece of things, for the cost-effectiveness, flexibility and mobility that it offers. It allows companies to get more value from their data. HDS is a leader in this arena.

The content cloud is also becoming an important factor, allowing companies to start getting value from data. Separating content from the application lets companies realise this value.

“The huge growth of big data is often stored and never referenced again. So we are promoting content clouds so we can analyse this data, figure out what’s not being used and move it out to another device.”
HDS offers the tools to do this.

“We are also starting to see – if we build the right interfaces – we can see applications moving in and out of the cloud as they are needed.”

The information cloud is the analytics applications that will allow companies to analyse the content and start getting real value.

This is not good old business intelligence (BI), Reid says. The type of information and the variety of information that is combined, plus the volume and velocity is changing that dynamic.
“The information cloud will become more important to you over time.”

The retail industry is a great example of how value can be gained from an information cloud. Information can be taken from loyalty data, but also information from social networks, adding those to structured data from ERP systems and analysed as one data stream.
Patterns can be identified and retailers can target customers with things they actually want, opening up new revenue streams. Data such as video capture can also be used to analyse how customers interact with products.

“Social innovation is one of HDS’ big plays now,” Reid says. “A lot of the work we do is aimed at making things more social.”

HDS is one of the few players that can provide an end to end stack that can make this a reality, according to IDC. As a $118-billion company, it does this through its broad portfolio, which focuses on IT.

“HDS is not just a storage supplier – we are developing technology that will be important to customers over time,” Reid says.