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Corporate InformationResearch & Development

Dr. Norihiro Suzuki talks about Hitachi’s unique position as a company involved in IoT with over 100-years history in products and operational technology, the value of promoting Social Innovation Business through the Lumada IoT platform and what Global Research hopes to achieve through the new Insights Laboratory.

 Hitachi, Ltd. was founded over 100 years ago in 1910. Since the beginning, R&D has been the heart of Hitachi, a cornerstone on which Hitachi built its business and at the same time, leading the direction for its future.
 The R&D Group finds its roots in the Research Team established in February 1918 and so it is almost as old as Hitachi itself. Starting with the development of the 5 HP motor, Research has contributed to addressing the needs of society of the day, and well as looking to what society might need in the future. In that way, it has contributed to major products in Hitachi’s business portfolio throughout its history. Today, the focus has shifted to Social Innovation Business, so research is more important than ever, and having experience and know-how in IT, OT and products is a key differentiator for Hitachi.
 We already have substantial know-how and expertise accumulated through our products and collaboration with our major customers in Japan. As Hitachi moves to expand its global business, Research is leading and supporting this move by enhancing our global capabilities through our Global Center for Social Innovation (CSI). This April, I established the Insights Laboratory to integrate and accelerate the efforts of the regional CSIs established 2 years ago, in North America, Europe, APAC, China and Japan, so that we can provide a global showcase of use cases to accelerate the development of solution cores for Lumada.

 Co-creation is more important than ever. That’s because the focus of Hitachi’s business is shifting from just selling products to creating value for the customer. We are creating new value by sharing issues and visions with customers and partners, designing business models, and realizing them through verification and simulation. This co-creation process which includes methodologies and tools, has been systemized under what we call “NEXPERIENCE.” Through NEXPERIENCE, we can deliver real-world solutions that resolve the real challenges faced by our customers.
 What allows us to do this, and I believe that this is one of Hitachi’s strengths, is how our designers and researchers work together. In 2015, I established the Global Center for Social Innovation (CSI). CSI consists of designers and researchers; designers who are not only experts in product and service design, but as important, skilled in ethnography. The co-creation process includes communication with customers to extract the real issues faced by our customers. So, the main mission of the designer is this kind of extracting process, something they are well equipped to do. Researchers and engineers tend to focus on specific technical problems or requirements while a designer focuses on the experience; what the customer feels are the issues, then delve deeper, how this will be experienced by their customers, etc. This kind of process is pretty important for co-creation and is also the strength of Hitachi’s co-creation.

 The R&D Group began in 1918, so we are soon reaching our centennial anniversary. Today we represent an organization of 2,700 researchers. In 2015, the R&D Group transitioned into 3 centers aligned under 3 innovation models. The first one is CSI, the Global Center for Social Innovation. CSI operates under a customer or market-driven innovation model, creating new value through co-creation with customers. The second is the Center for Technology Innovation. Their mission, like the name suggests, is to create innovative technology that serves customer needs as well as differentiates Hitachi’s technology; that is, operating under a technology-driven innovation model. And the third, very important, is the Center for Exploratory Research. They operate under a vision-driven innovation model, pioneering new businesses by undertaking R&D for resolving future societal issues. Research activity is aligned with business side, and we are addressing the challenges faced by customers in each region through collaborative creation and technological development.
 As I mentioned earlier, we have 2,700 researchers worldwide. In terms of research portfolio, each region has their hot topics so there is a fair bit of region-driven research. For example, in the U.S., we have about 100 researchers working out of Santa Clara and Farmington Hills; in the Silicon Valley – obviously, IT is the area and big data, analytics, AI are hot topics. In Farmington Hills, which is close to Detroit, the automotive area –components, testing and simulation, and of course, autonomous driving. In Europe, we have research centers in 4 countries; U.K., France, Germany and Denmark. The focus area differs by country but Europe is a mature society as well as the center of standardization activity - so we are looking at the needs of a mature society as well as participating in standardization. Hitachi’s main business in Europe is railway and power, so that is part of our portfolio too. In China, we have many initiatives running, such as healthcare and Made in China 2025 related projects. Asia is very big market with diversified needs so we have two research centers, in India and Singapore, and are actively pursuing PoCs especially in energy management and water. So each region is very different, and there are many topics.

 For Hitachi to realize its aim to become an “innovation partner for the IoT era,” requires an open and secure platform that connects the systems of many stakeholders. Accordingly, Hitachi launched its IoT platform Lumada in 2016 and has begun providing services. Currently, Hitachi is working to expand use cases for Lumada through collaborative creation with customers. The name “Lumada” was created by combining the words, “illuminate” and “data.” Data represents a reality, and by analyzing the data, we can derive insights of the real situation. So real-world data is very important in ensuring effective real-world solution.
 The Insights Laboratory was established in April 2017. The main mission of this laboratory is to globally integrate the co-creation efforts of regional CSIs - in North America, Europe, China, Southeast Asia, India and Japan - and together scale the business globally. Working with the Hitachi Insight Group organized in May 2016, we are stepping up our activities to deploy Lumada, as well as develop solution cores, especially those which use AI and analytics as a common platform.
 There are 2 main reasons why I chose the Silicon Valley as the center for this activity. One is because it is the location of the headquarters for our business partner, the Hitachi Insight Group. The second is for what is often called “the Silicon Valley research style.” This is something I experienced while I was CTO of Hitachi America. The research style is aggressive but open, and very agile and quick, working and sharing ideas in ecosystems. By linking the regional CSIs through the Insights Lab, I am hoping that this “agility” “aggressiveness” “ecosystem” research style will spread throughout Research more quickly beginning with Japan.


Norihiro Suzuki

Vice President and Executive Officer, CTO and General Manager of Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd.

Norihiro Suzuki joined Hitachi after earning his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo in 1986, and began his career as a researcher in digital image signal processing and embedded software systems. After serving in several management positions where he lead research in IT, he assumed the post of Senior Vice President & CTO of Hitachi America, Ltd. in 2012. He returned to Japan in October 2014 to assume the position of General Manager of the Central Research Laboratory, and also General Manager of the Global Center for Social Innovation from April 2015. He was appointed to his current position as head of the Research & Development Group in April 2016. Dr. Suzuki is also a Vice President and Executive Officer, and CTO of Hitachi, Ltd.
Doctor of Engineering.
Member of the Institute of Image Information and Television Engineers, Institute of
Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers (IEICE), and IEEE.