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Lynn Collier is the Chief Operating Officer for Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) in the UK and Ireland. Here, she talks about how the Hitachi group company innovates collaboratively with its clients, and how the company approaches the challenge of IP worries when it comes to co-creation projects.
One way in which we collaborate on innovation with our customers is working with them to solve specific problems they have. It's no longer enough to offer technology just for technology's sake, in the way it was a decade ago. Today, the conversation is about the outcomes that technology can drive, whether that technology be hardware, software, services, or a combination of the three.
While our balance sheet shows sales of infrastructure, software and professional services, what goes on behind the scenes is very much collaborating strongly with our customers, who need to ensure that the technology is applied in a way that will produce the outcome they desire. We consider this to be our base level of collaborative creation– using our approach to find ways to reduce costs, drive more revenue, or mitigate risk for our clients.
IP is something that we talk about all the way through the process with our clients – it's clearly something that needs to be broached right at the beginning of any collaboration where custom solutions are involved.
I think it depends on the industry that the customers are in, but it's also worth bearing in mind that today, many of our customers don't want to be in the business of IP. They want to be in the business of securing more customers, selling more of their portfolio to existing customers, and delivering new services. On the IP side, as long as they get their desired outcome, many companies are happy not worrying about it. Of course, this being said, there will always be customers that are keen to retain IP on new solutions that are developed, but we assess this on a case by case basis.
Our customers with whom we have a long history are used to coming to HDS for either hardware or professional services, but now, the solutions we offer are for broader, more complex challenges. To approach areas like security and compliance, for example, we work to build our reputation with our clients in these areas, but we also look at working with partners who may already have these kinds of relationships with our clients. Whereas before, we might have crossed paths in the lobby with systems integrators, specialist service providers or applications specialists, now we are working actively with them to solve challenges for our clients. We are also actively working to hire talent that can work in this way – for example, salespeople that have consulting backgrounds, or experience in one of these specialised areas. There has been a big cultural shift to embrace a more collaborative way of working.