Impacting Urban-Economic Lives with Information Technology

“Hitachi in India has envisioned this direction in collaboration with the stakeholders, bringing its rich global industrial heritage and juxtaposing it with its strength in Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) in order to transform the urban-economic scenario of the country”, stated Bharat Kaushal, Managing Director, Hitachi India in an interaction with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld. Excerpts below:

Please share Hitachi India’s initiatives that are catering to Government of India’s Smart City plan. How closely is Hitachi working with the government in India at central level or in state level?

India is one of the imperative markets for us and we want to be a true partner in the growth of the country. Hitachi’s partnership with India dates back to 1930’s with importing of table fans and later on went on to supply steam engines followed by Turbines for the Bhakra Nangal Dam. Since then Hitachi India has grown multifarious with presence of around 27 group companies and approximately 10,000 strong work force fueling the transformation of India.

The technological evolution in India is transforming the lives of citizens and Hitachi is leveraging its strengths in ITXOT, and products to bring reforms in social and business infrastructure through the use of digital technologies, thereby empowering the citizens more than ever before.  Hitachi has been partnering with the ambitious projects administered by the government. Its focus has been directed into a wide range of projects, built on three core pillars i.e. infrastructure development, to address urbanization issues, governance and services on demand to offset the burden of inequitable access amongst society’s weaker sections, and digital empowerment of citizens whether they are buying a product or enjoying a service.

FY2019 marks the first year of 2021 Mid-Term Management Plan (’21 MMTP) for Hitachi that aims to focus upon improving people’s quality of life for citizens and society at large by concentrating on three core values: Enterprise, Social and Environment. These values will be promoted through five sectors i.e. Mobility, Smart life, Industry, Energy and IT. We see all these sectors profusely becoming an integral part of Government of India’s Smart City mission and Hitachi extending all the support through offering its vast expertise in these areas. 

Cities are complex organisms of people, governments, businesses, and organizations, which require holistic solutions that address the needs of all stakeholders. In India the definition of smart city is all about evolving landscape involving invention and innovation. There has been a shift in the smart cities’ domain. 

India has a mix of Greenfield and Brownfield Smart Cities plan. Under the Smart Cities Mission, the initial idea was to build 100 new cities with state-of-the-art technology. However, over a period of time the core idea of the mission has evolved with a shift in the Mission’s focus from Green Field development to Brown Field development, that is the orientation of the mission has changed from building ‘100 new Smart Cities’ to ‘making existing cities smart’.  With such evolution, the definition of smart cities has changed manifold, not limiting to basic infrastructure but also progressing towards optimal utilization of technological solutions which support transportation and traffic systems as well, allowing Hitachi to offer its state-of-the-art technology advancements that can support the initiative.

Would you please appraise us of the initiatives that the global IT major is taking, to back up e-Governance initiatives of Indian Government or state governments?

Large scale government initiatives, both at the central and state level, in sectors like electrification, agriculture, and healthcare are the areas where Hitachi’s multiple businesses have brought in specialized expertise. While some initiatives are in the planning and execution stages, a few transformative citizen centric initiatives have already been implemented; and are impacting the way CEOs are setting goals, city planners are building cities, and farmers are accessing social benefit programs.

To support this further, Hitachi through its Social Innovation Business is enabling a seamless digital transformation for its customers. The initiative has been a part of e-Governance initiatives of multiple governments in the country.  The big data heavy projects it has undertaken include the digitalization of land records; the single-window handling of grievances and maintenance of essential services; easing tax payments and government dues; along with internet-based citizen delivery of services. 

A colossal testimony to Hitachi’s burgeoning collaboration is adduced through our partnership with the Andhra Pradesh government for setting up the Real Time Governance Centre at Amravati, which is a stellar example of an enhanced Public Service Delivery utilizing our IT (Information Technology) X OT (Operational Technology). With a people-first motto, the government of Andhra Pradesh strives to provide an agile and efficient public service delivery system benefitting nearly 50 million citizens, in a 360-degree life cycle approach through its Real Time Governance (RTG) initiative. In partnership with Hitachi, The Andhra Pradesh government can now swiftly resolve citizen grievances and monitor infrastructure projects, incidents, weather and climatic events across the state in real time, leveraging technology services. Big data sets gathered from various sources are leading to insightful decisions to vibrantly transform citizen services. Blending technology and citizen centricity, Real Time Governance has revolutionized governance in Andhra Pradesh, catalyzing government operations to create a safer, more efficient and sustainable society.

Without restraining to one segment or industry, Hitachi is transforming the lives of millions through Hitachi MGRM Net and is leading this technological metamorphosis through products, services and solutions that successfully address the needs of various domains, viz., Healthcare, Education, Pharmaceuticals, Automobiles and Insurance, through integrated applications. 

What are the major challenges that the company faces when working in Indian scenario?

Governance is a challenge in a country as colossal and diverse as India. As India gears up for an era of rapid digitalization, the issue of holistic and inclusive economic growth also remains a pivotal concern. That’s where new technologies can intervene and enable large scale transformation and help in the implementation of ambitious government plans ensuring citizens are empowered like never before.

Hitachi in India has envisioned this direction in collaboration with the stakeholders, bringing its rich global industrial heritage and juxtaposing it with its strength in Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). It has its ethos embedded in its businesses that are aimed at touching the lives of millions.  Hitachi has partnered with the government of India in its initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, leveraging its superior technology innovations and global expertise to address India’s unique challenges. 

Keeping citizens at the center, we must adapt to the dynamic confluence culture that is a natural result of convergence. In accordance to this, we have created a connected citizen eco-system integrating all our solutions beginning from Digitization, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Payments, e-Governance, mobility, etc. to deliver appropriate solutions operating as a foundation for building a smart city.  

What according to you are the strategic benefits India is having over other subcontinents when it comes to implementation or research of key projects in ground?

India has a great geographic advantage, allowing us to offer state of the art technology not just to the Indian market, but also to South-East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc., enabling us to indulge in value creation across different parts of the world. We are re-inventing ourselves, by localising infrastructure capabilities and setting up greater capacity in India, enabling ourselves to indulge in value creation across different parts of the world.

In the construction machinery business, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Company Ltd. is exporting to Africa and the Middle East, hydraulic excavators designed and produced in India based on specifications for emerging countries. In addition, Hitachi Hi-Rel Power Electronics Pvt. Ltd. is exporting UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) to the Middle East countries. 

On the other hand, Hitachi Payment Services Pvt. Ltd. (Hitachi Payment Services), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (Hitachi), is exporting Cash Recycling Machines (CRMs) to countries like Tanzania and South Africa. Apart from this Hitachi Metals (India) Pvt. Ltd. is exporting Amorphous metals to various countries in Africa like Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia. 

Do you see a major shift in paradigm to digitalization in the banking and payments system as well?

When we look at the financial sector, while young millennial are fast adopting online payment options, at one end of the spectrum, an enormous section of India’s population doesn’t operate a bank account. In this scenario, many are skeptical of India’s ability to open up to the process of greater digitalization of the economy, but times are changing. There is evidently a transformation in the way people transact and access money, not just in urban India but in rural pockets as well. The government is single-mindedly focusing to ensure social transformation at the grassroots. Post demonetization, and the government’s decisive push towards digital transactions, there has been a noticeable shift in the adoption of cashless transactions. Mobile, e-Wallets and smart card payment options are also showing growth across urban and rural India. 

Today, India and Hitachi are partnering the way products and services are consumed and paid for. Hitachi has been playing at the forefront of the evolution of both cash and digital payment solutions that are prevalent in India.  Hitachi Payment Services (HPY) is a leading provider of ATM services – Bank & White Label, ATM software platforms and Cash Recycling Machines (CRM), a new innovation in the ATM segment.

Please share with us certain initiatives or projects that Hitachi India is working in lines with Government of India’s Digital India scenario and Smart City Mission too?

The government of India is increasingly focusing on initiatives like Digital India to transform India to a connected knowledge economy and induct transparency through e-Governance, which empowers the citizens more than ever before. Hitachi aims to support India's efforts to digitalize its infrastructure for administration and civil services. Analyzing big data collected from public services, transactions and relocation of people could lead to new services that improve ordinary people's lives. 

Hitachi Payment Services (HPY) and State Bank of India (SBI) have signed a definitive agreement to enter into a joint venture for the establishment of state-of-the-art card acceptance and future-ready digital payment platform for India. By establishing the joint venture, Hitachi aims to bring in financial sustainability and empowerment by providing digital solutions in India and other countries and accelerate the movement of digitization around the world. Hitachi Payment Services has over 44,000 ATMs, 16,000 CRMs, and 1.1 Mn POS devices (including Mobile POS) under management to date.

Besides being a leading provider of end-to-end POS processing services, HPY also offers end-to-end e-commerce processing services, merchant aggregator solutions, and card issuance solutions. The foundation of a Smart City has to be its citizens and their life experiences. We at Hitachi believes that efficiency, effectiveness, and empathy are fundamental elements for us to grow in India. Keeping these elements in mind, we are moving beyond being just a solutions provider to becoming a customer-centric organization, where customer empowerment and customer centricity will drive the growth of the nation, placing it at par with some of the vigorously growing economies in the world.