Hitachi NEXT 2019: Las Vegas event shows why Japanese company set to be data market leader

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Hitachi CEO Toshiaki Higashihara speaking on the opening day of the Hitachi NEXT 2019 event in Las Vegas. (AN Photo)
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Hitachi NEXT event in Las Vegas was held at MGM Grand Hotel, and showcased the firm's state-of-the-art software and equipment. (AN Photo)
Updated 14 October 2019

Hitachi NEXT 2019: Las Vegas event shows why Japanese company set to be data market leader

  • Using the power of data for good and “social innovation” was something key on the agenda
  • Hitachi’s expertise in the sector was never far from the point of discussion

LAS VEGAS: Forget oil, the 21st century’s economy will be all about data — it is something we have heard a lot since the turn of the decade.

As Brian Householder, CEO of the Hitachi Vantara group, said at the Hitachi NEXT event in Las Vegas last week: “In 2017 machines generated more data than humans for the first time. However, by 2023 it will be 50 times more.”

And during the glitzy event at MGM Grand Hotel, the Japanese company showed exactly why they are perfectly positioned to be market leaders in the new “data economy” as the sector goes from strength to strength and the large scale “industrial internet” booms in the coming years.

Speaking at the event, Hitachi CEO Toshiaki Higashihara gave two examples to illustrate how the company’s systems have been applied to everyday, practical scenarios, first citing transport.

He mentioned how the commute time from Ashford to London in the UK was cut by 50 percent and how the Copenhagen Metro could reschedule trains based on data analysing the number of passengers on platforms at any given time, both using Hitachi’s state-of-the-art software.

Elsewhere, the second example was the company’s technology and equipment being used in healthcare — to treat cancer through the use of particle beam therapy and its software being used to help the American Heart Foundation.

Using the power of data for good and “social innovation” was something Higashihara was keen to stress and it was the major theme of the event.

Hitachi’s expertise in the sector was never far from the point of discussion either, with clients of the company waxing lyrical about how much its software and technology has helped their causes — global clients that require huge compute and storage capabilities, especially with a trillion new data sensors expected to come online by 2024.

To cope with such demands, Hitachi used the event to announce its preparedness with three key launch announcements within its Edge-Core-Cloud framework :

  • Hitachi’s Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) 5000 series and Hitachi Ops Center software were the biggest highlights of the company’s storage and infrastructure announcements.
  • Hitachi Vantara expanded its cloud services capabilities in the first major announcement of the company’s newly formed cloud services portfolio. 
  • Hitachi Vantara also announced the expansion of its Lumada platform services and solutions portfolio to help clients across several industries with data silos issues and drive more innovation through DataOps.

Also part of the program of events at NEXT 2019 were the keynote speakers who raised interesting and thought-provoking points. Zeynep Tufekci, who is associate professor at the University of North Carolina and contributor to the New York Times, is a technosociologist and an expert in privacy and surveillance. 

She spoke about how algorithms such as those used by YouTube highlight a human vulnerability and tendency to be curious about extreme ideas, which the video platform’s engines used to drive up engagement figures.

She said this was not a built-in design feature, but rather was a result of the algorithm being allowed to optimise around user engagement, and that lessons must be learned about machine learning and its power.

On the second day of keynote speeches, free-solo climber Alex Honnold who explained the huge amount of training, mental control and physical preparation goes hand-in-hand with climbing experience to overcome tough challenges in any walk of life.

The star of National Geographic’s “Free Solo,” which saw the American attempt to conquer the first free-solo climb of the famed El Capitan's 900-metre vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park, wowed the crowd with anecdotes and humbling accounts of his life as a free-climber.

Attendees were also given a chance to see equipment and software in action at the event’s exhibition space — Solutions Showcase — where the latest data solutions in the industry were on show.

This section also included a nod to Hitachi’s new strategic alliance with Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. While Mickey Mouse was part of the big announcement on day one, attendees were able to get up close to characters from Pixar’s Toy Story including Woody himself.

Hitachi Vantara is now the official ride and show analytics provider to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California to help create data-driven solutions to enhance the operational efficiency of shows and attractions.


Saudi defense contractor to invest up to $16 million to further localize services

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi defense contractor to invest up to $16 million to further localize services

DUBAI: Saudi-based defense contractor Middle East Propulsion Company (MEPC) plans to invest between $13 million and $16 million over the next two years to build test cells for aircraft engines and establish new production lines.
These expansion activities should complement the company’s objective to localize high-tech repairs and combine them in one roof for the Saudi defense ministry, which is a major customer, CEO Abdullah Al-Omari told Arab News.
Instead of sending aircraft engines and engines modules overseas for further servicing, thus take up more time before military assets return to actual service, localization not only cuts the turn-around period but also reduces Saudi government spending for the repairs.
“We have accomplished more than 1,600 engine and engine modules [since 2001, they] have been maintained totally in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Omari said at the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow. “The engines consume 45 percent of what you spend on aircraft.”
The company works on 150 to 160 engines and engine modules every year.
MEPC is the first specialized MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) company operating in the Middle East, according to its website. It has invested over $26 million during the previous two years for the localization of its MRO services.
“We used to send these parts to outside, it takes 6 months to 24 months sometimes … in case of the Apache engines, minimum turn around is 24 months,” Al-Omari said, but their localization efforts have greatly improved their capability by cutting the turn-around period to only 150 days.
The speed at which MEPC is able to repair engines and modules, boosts the readiness of Saudi military, Al-Omari added.
The company is in talks with major defense contractors, including Honeywell for the Abrams talks and GE T700 engines, for possible tie-ups to further improve their capability, he said.
“Currently there is a potential with the Kuwait army to provide them with similar services [being delivered to the Saudi defense ministry],” Al-Omari said, and expects that cooperation would start “within the next two years or so.”