Emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), are driving humankind into a new Age of Intelligence. The most distinct characteristic of this new age is that the physical and digital worlds are becoming more intertwined, which will greatly change humankind’s production and lifestyles and spur digital transformation of various industries.
If someone should ask what period in history would have similar far-reaching significance as the Age of Intelligence we’re entering, I believe that the Age of Sail, which started five hundred years ago, is undoubtedly the one. Back in those days many era-defining events took place; for example, Leif Erikson and Christopher Columbus separately discovered a new continent and Ferdinand Magellan completed the first circumnavigation of the world. The Age of Sail connected all five continents and altered the course of human civilization.
Two years ago, many still doubted whether we needed to embrace digital transformation. But today, we all know that digital transformation is inevitable, and actions must be taken as quickly as possible. The question, now, is more about when and how. Before answering this question, however, I would like to share with you a successful case of how Huawei helped Longgang, Shenzhen, China, build a Smart City.
Three Core Concepts Derived from the ‘Smart Longgang’ Projects
Longgang is the largest district in Shenzhen and has 4.25 million permanent residents. Three years ago, the Longgang District Government embarked on the Smart Longgang project and chose Huawei as its strategic partner. At present, the project has delivered tangible benefits to Longgang residents and greatly improved citizen satisfaction. The Smart Government initiative has made unified offline and online approvals a reality. Citizens can now carry out transactions using their mobile phones or computers without leaving their homes. At the government service center, citizens’ service requests are centrally received at the front-end counters and then collaboratively handled by the back-end departments — a best-case example of ‘Let online information run errands for people.’ Following the roll-out of Smart Policing last year, the average time taken to solve major cases in Longgang has been reduced to within 24 hours. After Smart Firefighting was launched, the number of fires fell by 40 percent in the first half of 2017.
Unlike other Smart City initiatives, which are challenging to implement or reap the benefits, how did Smart Longgang achieve such positive results in just two to three years? The success of the project would be impossible without the Longgang District Government’s commitment to change. The Longgang District Government prioritized this project and was highly engaged to work closely with Huawei throughout the entire process. At the beginning of the project, a leadership team, led by the Secretary of the Longgang District Party Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the District Leader, was set up. In addition, a special District Data Coordination Office was established to unify data standards and ensure strong collaboration across departments. With Huawei’s support, 215 service systems within more than 50 departments were integrated, gathering data exceeding 1.1 billion records. There is no shortcut for digital transformation, and a commitment to embracing change and quick action is the key to final success.
Huawei was responsible for top-level design and ICT infrastructure design of the entire Smart Longgang project. In this project, Huawei provided ‘1 cloud, 2 networks, 3 platforms,’ which comprised the following:
• Cloud data center
• City communication network and city IoT network
• Big Data services platform
• Service application enablement platform
• ICT capability exposure platform
More important, Huawei also brought in many partners to respond to the specific requirements of government affairs, police, education, healthcare, and other departments. By combining their respective strengths, Huawei and partners implemented agile innovations and developed diverse applications. Our concerted effort has proven very beneficial. Specifically, ICT infrastructures and service applications were integrated to the largest extent, creating a powerful solution to drive digital transformation for Longgang.
In addition to the Smart Longgang project, Huawei has engaged in many joint innovation projects with leading companies of various industries around the world and has accumulated extensive experience in best practices over the past few years. All these have inspired me to develop three core concepts for digital transformation of industries.
- Core concept 1: Digital transformation is an ‘Iron Triangle’ project
The first premise is that digital transformation is an Iron Triangle project and must be led by top leadership. Digital transformation is fundamentally about using digital technologies to reshape services, processes, and organizational structures. For this reason, the participation of the customer’s senior leadership forms the first corner of the triangle because they are most familiar with their own business. ICT vendors such as Huawei must also engage to facilitate digital transformation, and they constitute the second corner of the triangle. The third corner of the triangle is also significant, referring to industrial application developers. This is because digital transformation must depend on agile and iterative innovation for industrial scenarios; if there are no industrial applications, every digital transformation effort is useless. This Iron Triangle concept is a joint innovation model advocated by Huawei for digital transformation of industries.
- Core concept 2: Digital transformation requires a platform to converge the physical and digital worlds
The second premise is that digital transformation needs an ICT platform that can connect the physical and digital worlds. We often say that a world where everything can sense, everything is connected, and everything is intelligent, is the foundation for digital transformation; however, no single technology can support the transformation by itself. Instead, the collaboration between cloud computing, IoT, Big Data, AI, wireless, optical, and other technologies is crucial to achieving a successful digital transformation. The ICT platform mentioned earlier enables such collaboration.
- Core concept 3: Ecosystem partners can make full use of the platform to create unlimited possibilities
The platform underpins digital transformation and becomes the foundation for data flowing and collaboration. Application partners can fully combine industrial expertise and ICT capabilities together on the platform, delivering unimaginable creativity and diverse applications to the entire industry. This is an ecosystem that Huawei is dedicated to building.
With this mind, we believe that digital transformation is a journey that has a beginning but no end. The journey holds promise as increased creativity and implementation flourish.
What Differentiates the Huawei Ecosystem from Other Vendors?
How do Huawei’s platforms and ecosystems stand out when compared with our competitors?
- Becoming our customers’ most-trusted partner
Huawei’s Rotating CEO Guo Ping said, “Huawei has chosen a business model that relies on the monetization of technology and services; it does not monetize user data. This is the biggest difference between Huawei and traditional Internet companies.” We are dedicated to being our customers’ most-trusted partner.
• Promoting business-driven innovation and focusing on value creation: Huawei has an important concept for innovation — that is, to focus on business-driven innovation that addresses our customers’ core business challenges to help them achieve business success. Customers are turning to Huawei because they recognize that our company is their most trustworthy partner for service innovation.
For example, Guangdong Rural Credit Union, China’s largest rural credit bank, needed to overcome bottlenecks in the fast deployment of its financial payment services. Huawei worked with Beijing Advanced Digital Technology, a software company, to create an intermediary services cloud to tackle the customer’s challenges. The time taken for service development, testing, deployment, and rollout was shortened from 3-6 months to 1-2 weeks. As such, Guangdong Rural Credit Union got a head start in the market to achieve business success.
• Capitalizing on global OpenLabs to better respond to the unique needs of industries: Huawei has deployed OpenLabs globally to collaborate more closely with partners and customers for joint innovation and gain a better understanding of industry challenges and needs. The solutions incubated through OpenLabs have covered sectors such as public safety, finance, electric power, manufacturing, and transportation. Over the next three years, Huawei will continue to invest USD 200 million (CNY 3 billion) to build and operate OpenLabs, increasing the total number from today’s 13 to 20 and extending coverage to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Where there are customers and partners, there is innovation by Huawei.
Providing a platform for platforms
Another differentiator of Huawei’s ecosystem is that Huawei remains within its own business boundaries that is committed to providing a platform for customer and partner platforms. Many companies have transformed their own experiences and expertise in a specific industry into an enabler platform best suited for that industry. Huawei positions itself to create an open, secure, and reliable ICT infrastructure platform within its own business boundaries and to provide such a platform for customer and partner platforms.
Huawei’s platform is a full-stack solution with cloud-pipe-device collaboration which provides one-stop ICT services for customers and partners. Huawei’s platform allows customers and partners to focus on their own service optimization and innovation without the need to struggle with the underlying complex software and hardware systems. Huawei is one of the few companies that can provide cloud-pipe-device, full-stack ICT capabilities. A notable example can be seen in a project where Huawei and Honeywell worked together to create a smart building solution. Built on Huawei’s Edge Computing-IoT (EC-IoT) platform and Honeywell’s smart building management system, this solution has fully integrated ICT platform capabilities with industry experience and expertise. This integration enables complex and diverse devices in a building to connect and work together. In addition, cloud management of tens of millions of IoT terminals reduces the operating and management costs by 60 percent and decreases power consumption by 50 percent.
- Becoming an ecosystem enabler
A further differentiator of Huawei’s ecosystem is the Huawei principle of sharing with partners. Huawei is committed to becoming an enabler that helps partners grow quickly through our Developer Enablement Plan.
• Strong cooperation from innovation to marketing for win-win market success: Huawei operates in more than 170 countries and regions. Huawei has a global marketing and services platform in addition to an unmatched technological platform. Joint solutions created with our partners that leverage these capabilities can be launched quickly to capture new market opportunities. For example, in the Safe City domain, Hexagon is a leading Independent Software Vendor (ISV) that has Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), geographic sensors, GIS, and other professional technologies. The advantages of Huawei and Hexagon complement each other and combine to build a next-generation converged command system. Over the past two years, Huawei and Hexagon have engaged in a joint marketing campaign that has helped to expand Hexagon’s business from developed countries to emerging markets in the South Pacific region, the Middle East, Latin America, and others. As a result, Hexagon’s revenue in the Safe City field has doubled.
• Leading standards development and expanding the industry: In this new era of digital transformation, we believe it is more important to grow the industry than to gain a bigger share of the market. By leveraging our strengths in technical innovation, Huawei is actively engaged in the promotion of international industry standards that reduce the costs of digital transformation. For example, Huawei has promoted the standardization of 5G, new video codecs, IoT, and other promising sectors that offer huge industry opportunities. By doing so, Huawei is helping to accelerate key industry projects, drive industry cooperation, and stimulate industry growth.
• Collaborating with partners to build a shared future: Huawei is committed to becoming our customers’ most trusted partner, to provide a platform for platforms, and become an ecosystem enabler. Huawei’s development strategy is increasingly recognized by customers and partners, as at present the Huawei platform has gathered a pool of more than 400 solution partners, 2,400 service partners, 12,000 channel partners, and 80,000 registered developers.
All Stakeholders Unite to Build a Shared, Richly Diverse Ecosystem
Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to offer maximum access to the company’s technical, marketing, training, and services platforms. In addition to the USD 1 billion investment in the Developer Enablement Plan announced two years ago, Huawei plans to do the following over the next three years:
• Supporting 100 partners, each gaining revenues of more than USD 15 million (CNY 100 million)
• Forming a pool of over 1,200 solution partners
• Dedicating USD 150.3 million (CNY 1 billion) as special incentives for cloud partners
Building an ecosystem is not a one-man show and cannot be completed by a single player. Instead, it requires the participation of all stakeholders. It is not about fixing your own backyard, but about working together to create a richly diverse garden shared by everyone. Huawei will continue to invest in building more powerful platforms, helping partners achieve more business success. An ecosystem cannot go without powerful platforms, and platforms become richer and more vibrant thanks to the ecosystem. The digital journey has just begun, and an exciting future ahead is awaiting us.