Hitachi's acquisition of digital engineering and experience design specialist GlobalLogic looks set to provide even more secure cloud functionality and data handling abilities for customers, according to the company announcement.

Toshiaki Higashihara, chief executive of Hitachi, says the move will boost "collaborative creation" across its new digital products worldwide -- including more Agile development of cloud software and services.

The merged company will increasingly be able to target IT, operations technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) requirements.

The Hitachi group of companies includes Hitachi Solutions (UK) and Hitachi Europe -- the parent of Hitachi Security Business Group.

Why are IoT and data collaborations for cloud so key?

Customers across the UK and Europe are not only looking to develop more insights from data to drive efficiencies, but to support a reopening of workplaces and economic sectors post-Covid against a backdrop of increased regulatory and compliance pressures.

Tim Kidd, head of public sector services at Hitachi Solutions, points to examples from a UK housing roundtable where participants explained they wanted to use IoT technologies to deliver services and enable remote monitoring where possible.

Potential IoT applications for housing associations include:

  • fire safety detectors that automatically trigger when not working
  • water meters that raise an alarm if no water has been used for 24 hours
  • web connectivity across entire blocks rather than just individual homes
  • digital services for booking repairs and maintenance

"These changes are not seen as future-gazing ambitions," writes Kidd in a blog post for Hitachi based on learnings from the roundtable.

"They are real solutions that the attendees are exploring now -- to ensure that they continue to support their residents, their communities, and their businesses. The pandemic has propelled people and organisations forward quicker than ever before."

The roundtable hosted several housing associations and local government authorities discussing the challenges of provision of housing services across the UK -- especially with increased remote working.

"This was particularly true of ensuring statutory requirements around fire and gas safety were carried out , alongside routine maintenance," Kidd writes.

At the same time, both residents and organisations wanted to move to more environmentally friendly energy supply -- another issue where technology and data can provide better insights to support business decisions, as well as help share information across organisational teams, Kidd says.

Smarter, safer strategies for reopening post-Covid

Many organisations will continue with the newer ways of working post-Covid-19, not only to reduce costs where possible but to keep workspaces safe.

Health and safety must come first, notes Hitachi -- adopting data collection and analytics can help keep Covid infection rates down as well as do things like manage the number of people in a building or supplies on site.

Technologies that can help include Hitachi's VeinID biometric system, which allows contact-free identification of individuals by the venous patterns in their fingers. By simply holding up their hand, a person's vein pattern can be matched with personally identifying data.

Hitachi Security Business Group has been offering a free three-month license for its VeinID Five Windows Password Replacement - enabling IT support, remote workers and staff working from home to start waving goodbye to the hassles of password management.

( Photo by Maxime on Unsplash )