Opinion: An open, collaborative, and sustainable ecosystem enables digital transformation
Charles Yang, president, Middle East, Huawei Technologies, on why siloed systems are doomed to fail
Society is becoming more digital and intelligent. Systems are becoming increasingly complex as the latest technologies advance rapidly, enabling greater connectivity and, as a result, new operating and business models are emerging every day. This is digital transformation at work, and in order to take full advantage of the next generation of enterprise connectivity, businesses need to reshape their ecosystems, not just their IT infrastructure.
The traditional business ecosystem is linear, forming a unidirectional supply chain from suppliers through to customers. Digital transformation, however, is shaking up the system and changing the roles of players throughout the chain. There are more overlaps than ever before with convergence across all sectors, which makes the ecosystem more complicated. In order to survive this, as well as the changing needs of ever-more demanding consumers, enterprises need to become more open and flexible.
One driver of sustainable ecosystems is the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. This is especially true when ICT systems are open to enable efficiency, innovation and growth, taking advantage of all aspects of the ecosystem from 5G through to artificial intelligence (AI), supply chain, channel partners and so on.
In the digital era, businesses choose their partners based on the ecosystems they operate within
Collaboration is, we believe, the key to shared success throughout the ecosystem – though openness is a considerable component in promoting inclusive and sustainable partnerships. In the digital era, businesses choose their partners based on the ecosystems they operate within, more so than the products and prices they offer. Open, inclusive, sustainable ecosystems enable suppliers to be more present and accessible, and are ultimately more prosperous, bringing value to all players.
When all ecosystem players can access shared value, they can evolve together. This collaborative benefits system is what will drive the ICT industry forward.
Another contributing factor to the strength of a sustainable and healthy ecosystem is adopting a customer-centric approach. For example, the finance industry is moving into a new phase of intelligence and digitisation. Customer behaviours are changing quickly; adoption of mobile payment is reducing demand for credit cards and cash, but customers are still accustomed to using financial services through the Internet or mobile banking than lining up in banks. Taking into consideration customer preferences for the convenience of bundled service access, banks need to leverage their advantages in customer relations, channels, data, technology, and risk control to create services that integrate mobile communications, retail, healthcare, bill payments, and social media. By achieving this, banks can expand their market share through the building of ecosystems.
Similarly, enterprises have to create value for their customers. The employees, technology, products, operational processes, and organisational structures of an enterprise are employed and built to create value. A sustainable ecosystem doesn't rely on a single, big company but rather on multiple players that seek out robust business models in the system.
A cross-industry approach brings together governments, industry alliances and organisations, developers and academia to create a larger market for all participants so that they can share benefits in the long run. Creating shared value is something Huawei has focused on for over 30 years; we are keen to innovate with more than 13,000 suppliers worldwide to drive industry development and ensure business continuity that will retain its stability regardless of future changes in the environment.
And we know that the future will bring change; the evolution of our world is inevitable, especially given the rate at which technology is developing. ‘GIV 2025: Unfolding the Industry Blueprint of an Intelligent World’, a white paper released by Huawei, forecasts that by 2025 there will be 40 billion AI-enabled personal smart devices, 90% of which will have an intelligent personal assistant. It also suggests that 12% of homes will have robots under their roofs, and there will be 100 billion connections helping to drive digital transformation in domains including public utilities, transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and finance.
In tomorrow’s intelligent world we will see 180 billion TB of data generated; 85% of enterprise applications will be on the cloud; 86% of global companies will adopt AI, and data utilisation rates will skyrocket to 80%. This means that the newly generated data for each year will become a constant source of innovative intelligence and value creation.
In 5G, we collaborate with carriers and industry partners to continuously develop 5G applications in vertical industries, enable a thriving industry ecosystem, and make full preparation for the mature commercial use of 5G. We launched a series of cross-industry collaborations based on network slicing and MEC in smart grid, VR/AR, IoV, remote surgery, smart manufacturing, and other fields, greatly expanding the 5G global ecosystem.
Naturally, being a knowledge-intensive industry, ICT depends heavily on talent resources, and the flourishing ecosystem raises the demand for an appropriately-qualified workforce. This is specifically applicable in ME region where a gap between the education systems and job market requirements exists in the technology domain. Based on analysis of the industry's talent demand structure, Huawei believes there are three major challenges facing the supply and distribution of talent in the ICT industry. These are a gap between general supply and demand; a mismatch between talent quality and industry demand, and the industry’s demand for talent is concentrated in emerging segments.
In order to address these challenges, and to bridge the digital divide while promoting digital inclusion, Huawei has developed a talent ecosystem that seeks to develop local ICT talent as a social responsibility. A major platform of this initiative is the Huawei ICT Competition, which drives collaboration between Huawei and universities around the world, helping to cultivate a global talent ecosystem. In 2018, the Huawei ICT Competition attracted more than 40,000 students from over 800 universities across 32 countries and regions, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
As the talent ecosystem continues to grow and expand in line with the increasing demand of a booming ICT sector, the benefits will be felt wider than ever – by individuals, educational institutes, and businesses alike. The entwined development of talent and ecosystem will continue to promote the rapid development of a digital and intelligent society, bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world.