An Interview with Joe So, CTO of Huawei Enterprise Industry Solutions. | September 2018Transcript
New Horizons: You are listening to New Horizons, the podcast channel for Huawei’s ICT Insights Magazine. Join us as we talk to innovators and thought leaders from around the world.
Well, hi everyone. Today, we’re here with Joe So who’s the CTO of Huawei Enterprise Industry Solutions. Joe, how are you doing today?
Joe So: Good morning Scott.
New Horizons: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Joe So: Well, I’ve been with the company a long time. I started in 2005 as a Senior Manager in the GTS. Then, I actually volunteered myself for the first, becoming the fifth or the tenth person in the Enterprise Business Group before when it was called Enterprise Marketing Group. Now it is called EBG, Enterprise Business Group. Being the first five or ten person in this group is an honor for me. I’m glad to be here today.
New Horizons: Well, we’re really honored to have you. What are the most exciting things you’re seeing these days that Huawei is working on?
Joe So: Well, if you look at the whole world, it started off many years ago. I remember 2005 when people are talking about digital city. Then 2010, I believe IBM talked about the Smart Planet. Nothing really had happened, to be honest, until 2012. I think the reason why, because connection was there… 3G, 4G was there, it was established. That’s how people, everyone, all of a sudden, they’re starting to talk about Smart City. Don’t ask me which city. As a matter of fact, every city that I visited in 2015, I traveled 250,000 miles in one year. Everywhere I go, I talked to the CTOs, government officials. They were all talking about Smart City.
New Horizons: Smart City is kind of a broad subject, what is a Smart City?
Joe So: Well, I believe that Smart City is a process of re-engineering of society’s operations by the adoption of ICT to form new processes, new methodologies to enhance the livelihood of the citizens. To be able to help the government be more efficient and also make business more competitive in the long run. It is just not a project. Smart City is not a project. I can see that Smart City is like a program. There’s a continuous improvement of the city to be able to compete more effectively with other countries. To be able to provide better livelihood for your citizens.
New Horizons: What are some of the key components of the Smart City? There’s network infrastructure, there’s IoT, there’s lots of sensors… what premium value does Huawei add to a Smart City solution?
Joe So: Huawei’s values here, our value proposition is really straightforward. We are the ICT, Infrastructure Provider. Now, although in the Smart City concept or implementation, there’s involvement like Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, the IoT, cloud computing, and all these. However, Huawei is providing an open platform so that other platforms can be hosted onto our computing ICT infrastructure. At the same time, we work with a very open ecosystem with a lot of partners. We can host any applications as we want. Huawei is basically an open ICT Infrastructure Provider to allow other people to come into our platform, to freely grow their applications for the Smart City program.
New Horizons: What would you say are the benefits to the average citizen, to living in a Smart City?
Joe So: Well I think it is convenience. The first thing is if you look at the Chinese government today, I used to have to apply for, let’s say something like a driver’s license: I have to go to different places... this office to another office. It could be like ten kilometers away. Today, I go to one place and most likely I will get everything done in one office. There’s a consolidation of a single window, or government services to allow people to come to one place, to get most or all of services done in one place.
New Horizons: What do you think the future of Smart City is?
Joe So: I think for different countries, it will be different. I don’t want to say that Smart City for everyone is the same. It really depends on the pain of the country. The meaning of Smart City could mean different things for different countries, or between countries. It is totally a different meaning. I’ll give you some examples. For Thailand, tourism is their pain. They want to build that transformation based on tourism. They make tourism more a livelihood, more convenient for a tourist. For Singapore, it’s totally different things. Singapore is like building a hub for the region. They want to be competitive. They want to be the hub for the region, to share information. For a data center, they want to be more like a leadership, in leading other countries in the region. Then, for Manila, in the Philippines, is a totally different; safety would be one of the big issues. They want to go and implement Safe City as part of their Smart City program.
New Horizons: We had talked about Smart Cities, but what about Smart Transportation?
Joe So: Well, in terms of Smart Transportation, Huawei has two major solutions. One is for the railway. We developed a big railway, like the railways on the train, also Metrorail. On the railway, Huawei provided a GSM-R solution for the transmission of the signaling. For metro, I believe that Wi-Fi technology, and also the train management system that can be connected to the Command Center through the connections even when the train is running, and of course signal for a train when they are running, and using eLTE technology in the subway station. Another technology that we use at the airport, and that’s pretty new. One of them is actually using IoT technology to trace in the future, the luggage — if they’re lost or they’re somewhere, and the trolleys. The last thing I want to talk about airport is the kind of high-definition video cameras that we have for the whole airport, to monitor the landing of the plane, when the plane is taking off, we can actually monitor the whole airport on a panoramic view, rather than one single corner. As you know, the airport is actually rectangular all the time. A physical environment requires a camera to be located in many places when it is a rectangle. But the way that we use a camera is like a panoramic view camera, to provide the 4k resolution and view every single corner in one picture. In this case, it is easier for the people who work for the Airport Control Center to have an overview of what is happening at the airport.
New Horizons: Well, wasn’t there an airport just recently that located their control tower 20 miles away, and they were using high-definition 4k video with long range cameras to be able to control it because they couldn’t put the control tower at the airport in a location they wanted to?
Joe So: I think with many airports we’re able to do that with the technology today, especially with the wireless technology. The bandwidth for these technologies is already really mature. It is easy for you to put a camera anywhere you want.
New Horizons: Right. That gives you the benefit of having much more awareness of everything that’s going on around you, and much better control over what flights are coming in, what’s going out.
That gives you a lot more awareness of everything that’s going on around you. The planes are coming in and landing. The gates that are open, the gates that are closed. Getting the passengers to the gates as quickly as possible. Because as you and I know, after you spend 15 hours on a flight, you want off that plane.
Joe So: Exactly. I mean, just tired and want to go home and get some sleep.
New Horizons: Right, and spending 20, or 30 minutes taxiing because somebody is in the wrong place, doesn’t make for happy customers. Joe, you mentioned earlier about VCTO: Tell us a little bit about that.
Joe So: Well, we have a lot of OpenLabs today. As of today, we have 11 OpenLabs in many countries. The purpose of the OpenLab is basically to provide a platform for people to test their solution on our platform. An OpenLab is basically a verification center, joint solution center, and building up the ecosystem for the region or for the country. But in these OpenLabs, we hire a lot of CTOs. These guys are actually high-level Senior Managers. They have a lot of technology knowledge for the industry. But what I’m trying to do, I want to link them up together so they can share information between each of the OpenLabs; so that they get to know each other. We see a lot of stuff. As a matter of fact, we set up the VCTO team as a virtual team. It is called the virtual CTO office. We have approximately 20 core members and nine extended members where we will meet two times a year. We have a conference call every month to share information, share technology, share what they’re doing in the region, so that we can actually optimize the contributions of these high level technology officers. At the same time, you also give them a sense of belonging in the company. It is a huge team. It is a group. To make them feel that they’re an important part, and they’re making a big contribution to the company as a team.
New Horizons: That allows them to cover areas geographically, that they may not be able to visit.
Joe So: Exactly.
New Horizons: Right. Hopefully the benefits of that are increased collaboration, increased cooperation, and development of new products and new ideas.
Joe So: Exactly, yes. I’m glad that I’m actually the leader for this team. Yes, it is great actually in the coming years. Last year, I was really busy in organizing the VCTO office. As a matter of fact on September 3rd to 7th this year, we’re going to host the first kick off meeting for the VCTO team in Shenzhen.
New Horizons: Okay. Well congratulations. That’s quite an accomplishment in such a short amount of time.
Joe So: Thank you very much, Scott.
New Horizons: You’re welcome. Well, Joe is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
Joe So: No, actually I’m glad that I’m being interviewed today. I’m sure that you will be doing a good job. Good luck to you.
New Horizons: Well thanks a lot. I hope to invite you again if you have some exciting things. Let’s keep in touch on the VCTO project, and any new technologies, and smarter, safe cities. Please let me know so we can share that with our listeners.
Joe So: Okay, thank you very much.
New Horizons: Okay. Thank you Joe
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