HDS executives share the secrets of a successful acquisition

HDS executives reveal how to undergo a successful acquisition, during HDS Connect 2015

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) shared its secrets for a successful acquisition at Hitachi Connect 2015 in Las Vegas.

The company has undergone a string of acquisitions in the past year in line with its social innovation and analytics business. These include Avrio, oXya, Pantascene and Pentaho.

Brian Householder, COO of HDS, told attendees of HDS Connect 2015 what it is doing differently to integrate new companies into the business. “We’re partnering with the technical team before the acquisition to figure out how it is going to work.

“We have undergone several acquisitions and 90% of our engineers are still here.”

HDS’s most recent acquisition, due to close in June, was of data analytics firm Pentaho.

The Florida-based company was founded in 2004 and has a suite of open-source business intelligence (BI) systems under its belt.

John Mansfield, executive vice-president of global products and engineering at HDS, agreed with Householder, saying the engineering teams of both Pentaho and HDS have already been collaborating for six months.

“We don’t buy everything. It has to be a great fit and we have a great track record of retaining most of our engineers,” he said.

Read more about HDS Connect 2015

“Acquiring Pentaho was like bundling the structured and unstructured worlds together, as they are about big data analytics at scale,” said Householder. 

As of June the acquired company will take on the title of “Pentaho, a Hitachi Data Systems company” and will remain under the leadership of Pentaho CEO Quentin Gallivan.

“HDS values what we have built and we’re running as a standalone entity,” said Gallivan. “We’ve kept our brand and I’ll continue to run it, but we get the support and resources we need. We are excited as we have a shared culture and values on how to do business.

“We are about taking data and finding ways to understand and utilise it, so for our acquisition we needed a company with a bigger purpose on a human level.”

Hu Yoshida, CTO of HDS, said retaining staff during an acquisition can be tough because not everyone seeks to work in a more corporate environment. 

“We’re in the technology business, not the banking business. Our assets are not in the bank, they are in the brains of our staff. It’s the people who matter.

“Before we acquire a company we have to see if it’s a good match and figure out how it will fit into our culture,” said Yoshida.

At HDS Connect 2015 the supplier showcased how it is moving from a storage-only company into the infrastructure business to support its social innovation strategy.

Addressing 3,000 attendees, Jack Domme, chief executive of Hitachi America and CEO of HDS, said the company’s storage products are “cogs in a much bigger infrastructure machine”.

“We’re connecting real innovation to the benefit of society and to the benefits of the planet. We're connecting what works today with what's next. We are trying to impact society in a positive way.”

Yoshida said companies have a better chance of retaining staff after an acquisition if the company offers a place to work where staff feel valued and feel they are making a real difference.

“We work because we want to get rewards, but if I can work for a company and do good in the world then I would rather work for them,” said Yoshida. 

HDS also announced the latest additions to its product portfolio at the Las Vegas conference: Hitachi Live Insight for IT Operations, Hitachi Clinical Repository for Connected Health, and Hitachi Live Insight Center of Excellence.

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I guess we'll see in a year. Let's see how many Pentaho people are still there.
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