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Social Innovation

Interview with John O'Brien

John O'Brien, Executive Vice President of Hitachi Consulting Europe, offers his perspectives on the communication challenges of a co-creation project, and the benefits on such projects of the company's consulting pedigree in building bridges between stakeholders and technology solutions.

Q. How important is co-creation to Hitachi Consulting as a means of driving innovation?

JOB: As well as co-creating with clients, Hitachi Consulting also does a lot of co-creation work with other Hitachi Group Companies. For example, in the UK, Hitachi Consulting is involved in a major rail project with Hitachi Rail, working with data captured using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to build a predictive maintenance regime for high speed trains. The eventual aim is to build a system able to predict failures and plan maintenance ahead of time. That enables us to provide high reliability and quality services to customers. Co-creation has been key on this project, as Hitachi Consulting has been working with the whole ecosystem of firms involved on the project to solve the technical challenges involved in capturing this data and using it effectively.

Q. What are the communication challenges involved in large-scale co-creation projects?

JOB: One of the main challenges is that different enterprises move at different speeds and have different approaches. Trying to understand information flows within different stakeholder organisations can be challenging. Working with different cultures – whether that means working with companies in a different part of the world or a different sector – can add to the challenge, thanks to the time it takes to understand new hierarchies and find the best way to communicate with one another. Simple and open technology platforms can be a big help here.

Q. How easy has it been for your business to embrace these new open technology platforms?

JOB: We have found that our younger employees, particularly recent graduates, find using these co-creation platforms extremely intuitive, and in general are a lot more open to collaboration, travel and experimentation, which certainly helps adapting to this new way of working.

Because Hitachi Consulting is more of a service-oriented business in a group of companies that is predominantly product focused, we also have a lot of experience of working hand-in-hand with clients, often from within their business, and customising the solution to the needs of the customer. This plays very well into the spirit of co-creation, where you need to ask a lot of questions in order to understand the needs of each stakeholder and tailor the solution accordingly. Our relationship with the rest of the Hitachi Group Companies also means we are ideally placed to understand how Operational Technology (OT) and IT can best be brought into such projects.

the Future

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