Further to my post on why Japanese companies are not as “admired” as Western companies in brand/reputation surveys, I noted a bold one page advertisement in the Financial Times this morning from Hitachi, talking about “social innovation”. At first I wondered whether this was a term coined by Hitachi outside of Japan to put a bit more flesh on the “Inspire the Next” slogan that they have used in advertisements in The Economist, as some kind of riposte to IBM’s Smarter Planet.
But it seems that this term was used in the Mid Term Management Plan announced by Hitachi in 2010 and has made an appearance again in the 2013 Mid Term Management Plan announced this month which also talks about the new Hitachi Vision and identity and that they have “reorganised” the mission and values.
It’s probably no coincidence that they have also announced that they intend to expand their overseas personnel by 27% by 2015, to 150,000 (and will be cutting their Japan based staff by 8,000 to 200,000). Hitachi is hoping to increase its proportion of overseas sales to more than half of its total sales (currently around $90bn) by 2015, from the current 41%. This looks to be mainly through growing the infrastructure business in emerging markets, however Hitachi has been active in Europe too, in energy and transportation projects, and currently employs around 10,000 people in the region. Nonetheless, I bet if you asked the average European, they will have heard of Hitachi, but think they mostly make televisions.
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