InterviewsSocial InnovationSustainabilitySustainability and co-creation

3 years ago13 min

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Hans Daems and Helen Grundy of Hitachi Europe

Hans Daems and Helen Grundy explain how co-creation is used by Hitachi as a technique to deliver new sustainable business services.


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Read the transcript of Hans Daems and Helen Grundy interview about how co-creation is used by Hitachi as a technique to deliver new sustainable business services.

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Anna Delaney (interviewer)

What does social innovation mean in the context of Sustainable Development Goals?

Hans Daems, Hitachi Europe

We’ve heard what Helen said about how our founder created the mission and the vision of this company, which is about contributing to society through products, services, and technology. And that’s exactly what’s happening with social innovation.

But social innovation is what’s currently happening against the background of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 17 goals which the UN has set as areas where governments and business will need to come together to come up with sustainable solutions for the issues in the world.

And this is the tremendous opportunity for social innovation, because social innovation is all about identifying the issues, working together with the partners, with customers, co-creating actually solutions for today’s challenges.

And in Europe, we’ve set four strategic areas where we will want to work together and really create a difference as Hitachi. These areas are smart spaces, have to do with manufacturing, also have to do with logistics, and have to do with energy, because in those areas, we really believe that we can make a difference and that we have very good technical solutions based on our experience in the field of OT and IT.

And companies are actually working and coming together, coming up with those solutions. When you look at the Better Business, Better World report, this is identified that there is actually a financial and economic opportunity of $12 trillion dollars related to businesses responding to the challenges given by the Sustainable Development Goals.

And we as Hitachi really think that we can make a very genuine and a very real contribution by offering, through co-creation, the opportunity to use our products, services, and technologies to deal with those societal challenges.

Anna Delaney (interviewer)

Can you explain co-creation and how it links to the Sustainable Development Goals?

Hans Daems, Hitachi Europe

I think co-creation has to do with the way we interact with our customers and partners at Hitachi.

We are very open to listen and to work together with the people, actually very important in finding the solutions to the challenges that are given.

And by actually working together and coming together and identifying those issues and really selecting what is going to be the best answers to those challenges, we think that there are going to be better solutions. And that is what we call co-creation.

And our co-creation, we believe, is a great way to actually respond to the call for the Sustainable Development Goals, because it helps both in the 16 SDGs, which have to do with the big societal challenges, but particularly with SDG17, which is all to do about building global coalitions, global partnerships on dealing with the issues on the SDGs.

And co-creation gives this unique opportunity to bring together people that actually want to come together to deal with those issues.

Anna Delaney (interviewer)

Helen, what are your thoughts on co-creation and how it links with the Sustainable Development Goals?

Helen Grundy, Hitachi Europe

If I look at it from Hitachi’s perspective and how we’ve used partnership working to almost help us build our strategy in response to the SDGs, right from the start, it’s been about co-creation, partnership working.

So once we had got away from the business divisions that we were working with, where they felt the key risks and opportunities and where we had an idea of what our strategy might look like, we took that out to our stakeholders and had meetings. We held stakeholder dialogue, to actually work with partners, other organisations, to understand what they felt, whether they felt we were heading in the right direction, to get their advice, to get their input to our strategy.

So we could really make sure that what we were doing and the path that we were on was the right one for Hitachi, but also it made sense from an external perspective, as well. And that’s what we’ve bought into, how we will go forward with our strategy going forward.

Hans Daems, Hitachi Europe

Now, if I may add to this, I think it’s going to be those companies that actually understand best how to engage with partners, how to listen to what the societal challenges are, and how that actually reflect into the solutions which we’ll actually bring– that probably are going to be the companies that are going to be the most successful, because this is all about coming up with the best possible solutions for societal challenges.

And we think that by listening, by integrating the feedback which we get– which we’ve done from the start in terms of the policy– that those solutions are probably going to be the better build ones, the ones that take better into account of the actual challenges and in that way, are actually better answers to the challenges given to society.

Helen Grundy, Hitachi Europe

And so, a really good example of that is where our R&D teams work with partners, they hold workshops, brainstorming sessions, and actually bringing together different people who might be involved in a specific aspect that they’re looking at, be that mobility, trains, energy, and actually bring these different partners together into a room, and actually undertake that co-creation together.

So breaking down what is the problem. And then, how can we find solutions to that? And really looking at who are the right people to bring together into the room so we can get to a final solution. Or at least get to a point where we can maybe identify what is the right way forward.

Anna Delaney (interviewer)

How challenging is it to get to that solution? Do you find that bringing all these people, you’re usually on the same page, or are there differences?

Hans Daems, Hitachi Europe

In this respect, I believe that the SDGs are probably the ideal vocabulary, because we are now talking about things which are the same for everybody. Everybody is really starting to understand what are the issues given by the SDGs.

And the SDGs really give that push, the call to action. Because we can’t wait. The issues which are given so urgent, are so important to deal with, and as well, the targets given by the SDGs really call for that business action.

So we can really see how sustainability actually comes inside the business and actually becomes this driver for the development of strategy. We’ve made our own sustainability strategy. Sustainability is actually also increasingly becoming a driver for the strategic direction for the company overall.

What is a really positive thing is that the conversations which we can have with suppliers, with customers, with partners, are increasingly about these challenges.


Social Innovation

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Visit Social-Innovation.Hitachi to learn how Social Innovation is helping Hitachi improve lives across the world.

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