by Sejuti Das

CTOs must embrace the role of chief transformation officer

Dec 20, 2016
AnalyticsBig DataBusiness

Hu Yoshida, Global Chief Technology Officer, Hitachi Data Systems speaks about how the CTO role is evolving and the factors accelerating the digital transformation journeys of organizations.

A recent research by Forbes Insights states that 42 percent of organizations in Asia Pacific region are considering themselves either advanced or leaders in terms of their digital transformation journey. Because of their digital transformation foresight, these leaders are disrupting industries and trying to stay ahead of the competition.

We spoke to Hu Yoshida, Global Chief Technology Officer, Hitachi Data Systems about the evolving role of a chief technology officer in the backdrop of digital transformation, and the factors accelerating the digitization process in enterprises.

In this digital transformation era, how is the role of a chief technology officer (CTO) of an organization changing? What strategies are you adopting to stay relevant to the market?

The role of a chief technology officer has definitely evolved in today’s business environment. Apart from the technological expertise and management skills, a CTO also needs to be forward-thinking and business-savvy. He must realize that the implemented technologies must lead to business outcomes, and should focus on processes.

CTOs who have been focussed primarily on IT must also extend their focus to the operational side of the business, and should lead the integration of information technology and operational technology. They should work closely with their staff to ensure alignment and reskill so that employees understand their roles in the bigger picture and have the confidence that their leader has their back.

CTOs must also be aligned with the overall the business strategy and should work closely with other C-level executives and business leaders within the organization to identify customers’ changing needs. They should explore the implementation of technologies, enhance the customer experience in the service industry, and improve business efficiency and production in various sectors.

What’s your take on bimodal IT and how is it impacting Indian organizations?

Bimodal IT has been previously publicized by Gartner as an approach to digital transformation. Data can be bridged through the use of object storage that can support cloud interfaces, traditional structured data, and then can be synced and shared with mobile devices. This is the way that we transitioned from mainframes to open systems.

For those enterprises that were not born in the cloud, bi-modal IT enables them to immediately move to new systems of innovation while continue nurturing and modernizing the core systems.

The danger of bi-modal is the creation of processing silos and the perception of second-class versus first class jobs. Organizations’ IT teams must implement tools and practices that bridge the models with common management, converged infrastructure, the common data hub, and data integration tools, to enable common analytics across both modes.

Today’s competitive businesses struggle with the expansion of their IT services portfolio to tap into cloud agility, while continue maintaining the traditional IT platforms. We, therefore, understand that modernizing core IT applications is a first step down the path of bi-modal IT. The journey starts by embracing a private cloud architecture built on the principles of  software-defined data center, wherein all data center components are abstracted via virtualization and governed by centralized management and automation tools.

What are the factors that accelerate an organization’s digitization? And how HDS is participating in the same?

Digital transformation will continue to dominate enterprise IT strategies for 2017. With digital transformation rising up on the agenda of CTOs and CIOs across the world in 2016, you can expect to see an increasing number of organizations striving to reach digital maturity in 2017.

We believe the productivity gains will be more about people, process and business outcomes. A few trends that will gain more traction this year are, accelerating the transition to the cloud, bimodal IT, the emergence of centralized data hub and growing awareness of IoT in the data center.

We, at HDS, have embraced the concepts of IT convergence and modern IT infrastructure as a core to our solution and product development efforts, to enable a vision of software-defined, application-led infrastructure.

What’s your take on software-defined storage? What’s your strategy to compete in the disrupted storage world?

The software-defined storage is more about the infrastructure and is a topic for vendors to address as they deliver converged solutions, cloud and managed services to their customers. The whole idea of digital transformation is for enterprises to worry less about the infrastructure and focus more on the business outcomes.

Enterprises should partner with infrastructure solutions providers that can offer single-point-of-management for visibility across the full data center. Instead of focussing on infrastructure CTOs should be focusing on end user applications and business outcomes, and let the vendors worry about convergence, automation, and migration of infrastructure.

Instead of competing with public cloud infrastructure our strategy is to leverage the cloud to focus on application enablement. We displaced 80 percent of a large customer’s traditional infrastructure by converting it to an HCP (Hitachi Content Platform) content cloud that also connected to a public cloud. This was also enabled with secure governance by a common data hub.

What does the future look like?

Internet of things is a transformational force, and is impacting organizations across sectors and is driven by a combination of low-cost technologies, pervasive connectivity and huge volumes of data. IoT can provide benefits that will resound across an organization, from business productivity and customer value to revenue generation and cost savings.

Recently, we have acquired Pentaho to extend the technologies in our existing big data analytics portfolio and forms a critical layer in our advanced analytics foundation, which is the underpinning of our social innovation solutions.

Through our solution-led approach, we have also built considerable expertise in streaming data, unstructured data, predictive analytics and big data lakes. We are aiming at participating in the global convergence of information technology and operational technology in businesses. We believe to affect a real change in the world at the societal level, and support the development of smarter, safer, healthier and more efficient societies.

It is always important for a CTO to envision a bigger picture, pay close attention to industry trends, and consider strategic partnerships in order to leverage expertise which may not exist in their organization.