Driving the adoption of cloud at Hitachi: the hurdles and benefits

Hitachi is a global conglomerate, it’s over 100 years old.

It’s a federation made up of about 80 companies, headquartered in Japan, with approximately $90 billion in revenue.

Over the years, Hitachi has infiltrated almost every possible industry; from automotive and rail to healthcare and industrial infrastructure.

“Hitachi has been the home of superior, original technology products for over 100 years, building a global organisation and brand,” confirmed Ashish Sanghrajka, SVP and CIO — Americas and EMEA at Hitachi.

The larger the organisation, the more history, tradition and legacy, the greater the challenges that emerge in the digital economy.

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IT and security at Hitachi

“Working across hundreds of business units and hundreds of thousands of workers presents all kinds of challenges in the modern technology landscape, and it requires a very clear and forward-looking approach to identity,” said Todd McKinnon, CEO and co-founder, Okta.

As organisations grow, the approach to security becomes paramount.

“The Japanese culture prides itself on quality and making sure that our customers are always protected,” said Sanghrajka.

“We use IT to run the business, so security is almost foremost to Hitachi.

“In fact, Hitachi implemented two-factor authentication in IT almost 15 years back.”

A couple of years ago, Hitachi established a formal organisation, independent of the CIO, called Information Systems and Risk Division, which reports directly into the CEO of the company. This will probably become more common in the larger enterprise — hopefully.

Sanghrajka is the corporate CIO for the Americas and EMEA. His team focuses on IT and IT-shared services for the larger Hitachi group. He also has a role at Hitachi Ltd, corporate, as part of the IT strategy division, working on several - collaborating with Japan on global IT strategy and executing on global programmes.

Sanghrajka is the corporate CIO for the Americas and EMEA. His team focuses on IT and IT-shared services for the larger Hitachi group. He also has a role at Hitachi Ltd, corporate, as part of the IT strategy division, where he collaborates with Japan on global IT strategy and executing on global programmes.

Driving the adoption of cloud at Hitachi

Around four years ago, Hitachi embarked on what Sanghrajka refers to as a “globalisation” journey.

The success of this journey largely depended on driving the adoption of cloud across the organisation.

But, the organisation faced three major challenges and drivers in doing this.

The first was about integrating cloud applications with the legacy identity and authentication infrastructure — “how do we do it in a speedy and agile manner,” asks Sanghrajka?

As part of Hitachi’s global journey, one of the priorities was the standardisation and consolidation of applications

The second hurdle focused on making sure the move to the cloud was scalable and secure.

And the third and “most important element” was ensuring the customer experience was not sacrificed. “We are trying to drive and keep our customer focus, whether it’s employees, partners or your end users,” he said.

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An identity solution

To overcome these three hurdles, Hitachi looked for an identity solution that was based on leveraging the cloud. “We needed it to be fairly independent and something that could enable us to execute on our cloud journey and cloud strategy in a speedy secure manner.”

Eventually, the enterprise selected Okta as its global identity and access solution partner, which helped “deploy our cloud application from a corporate perspective,” he continued.

“As a global leader, Hitachi is leveraging a variety of cloud and hybrid technologies to drive innovation forward, and it’s relying on the Okta Identity Cloud to provide a seamless, secure experience for its employees,” said McKinnon.

“To maintain our innovative culture, we recognised the importance and value of integrating new technologies and enabling our global workforce to access the tools they need from anywhere. The relationship with Okta helps power our modern identity system, which is now flexible enough to adopt any technology and secure enough to protect our most valuable asset — our people,” reaffirmed Sanghrajka.

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Cloud transformation

Okta’s platform helped Hitachi on its cloud transformation journey and “helped us execute the journey in a more agile, speedy and secure manner,” said Sanghrajka.

The partnership also helped with user experience — “it has significantly improved,” he said.

“One of the missions that I had from a user experience perspective was making sure that we had a single user ID, single password for all applications and devices. It became a question of how do we deliver that user experience for our employees and our partners.

“With respect to our employees, we have made significant progress in terms of delivering that user experience of simplicity and frictionless consumption of technology.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...