11 Takeaways from a Chinese Tech Forum | #UBBF2017

Huawei (pronounced “Wah-way”) is the world’s largest telecommunications company. A member of the Fortune Global 100, it is also the world’s third-largest seller of smartphones. Just one day after its launch of the world’s first Artificial Intelligence embedded smartphone, the Mate 10, in Munich, Germany, Huawei hosted the Ultra Broadband Forum in Hangzhou, China. It attracted attendees from over sixty-five countries. I was invited to the conference as a key opinion leader and Huawei partner. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Huawei, the world’s largest telecom, hosts the Ultra Broadband Forum with an eye to the near future.
  1. 5G will spark explosive business growth and innovation. Now is the time for strategic planning. Worldwide, telecoms, governments and a handful of larger corporations are preparing for the introduction of super-fast 5G internet and related technologies. 5G, in addition to vastly speeding up the internet, will accelerate innovation and require new business models and ecosystems.
Autonomous vehicles will require 5G and “edge computing” to optimize roadway safety.

2. The Internet of Things (IoT) will bring computing to “the edge”. Technologies driven by the IoT, such as automated vehicles, will require the capacity make critical real-time decisions “at the source of the data, at the edge of the computing network.”

3. The future of IoT and IIoT (Industrial IoT) is continuous demand sensing. Connected products and services, as well as connected “things”, will optimize operational efficiencies with a constant awareness of consumer and business needs and wants. This will streamline asset utilization with “end-to-end” automation.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) will soon become a primary content platform. Smart businesses are positioning for the arrival of VR, incubating business scenarios.

5. VR will have both consumer and enterprise applications, demanding investment in faster, more reliable, and more secure broadband services.

6. Beware of bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI). “Humans must remain in the loop” to detect and guard against bias seeping into machine learning and algorithms. Data and processes must be audited to prevent inaccurate, injurious results.

7. “Exploration never stops at failure.” Huawei is a company that every year invests over ten percent of its enormous revenues into research and development, dedicating about 80,000 of its employees to R&D. That’s an uncommon investment in the future. Unafraid to innovate and fail, Huawei is more determined to research, develop and eventually succeed. Western companies would do well to consider the implications of this philosophy. It is a startup ethos in one of the world’s largest companies and may go a long way in explaining how China has transformed from an economy that largely succeeded by copying others, to one that is now innovating and leading.

8. “The ‘Digital Divide’ is no longer about being unconnected. It is about being under-connected.” Factors such as internet speed and relevant content must be considered as well. Business, as well as government, must bridge the digital divide.

9. “We need ‘cloudification’.” Digital transformation and IoT demand a shift to the cloud to broaden business access, facilitate B2B collaboration, optimize assets, and improve cybersecurity by leveraging the technologies, talents, and resources of telecoms.

10. Customers want flexibility and businesses must be prepared to provide it. Huawei rotating CEO, Eric Xu, emphasized the importance of customer-centric planning and operations. Customer demand for flexibility requires enormous agility for omni-channel business success in a highly-connected world.

11. “Begin with the end in mind.” Strategic purpose should guide innovation and investment. Digital transformation should be undertaken with “value-driven deployment and experience-driven operations.” The rush to tap into new technologies must focus on business objectives and enhancing customer experience and services.

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