As Europe comes back to life after a long and dramatic Covid-19 lockdown, political and business leaders are confronted with many challenges and opportunities to re-start the economy. Time is critical to avoid major and long-lasting damage to fragile economies.
The EU Recovery Fund represents a unique, perhaps a once in a life time opportunity to kick-start a new industrial revolution, a digital revolution where networks are the underlying foundation to foster new industries, create new business ventures, transform existing industries, drive productivity gains, and improve the interaction between governments, businesses and consumers.
The opportunity is vast, far reaching and transformational.
5G is the foundation, not the end-to-end business solution
As I mentioned, networks are the foundation, but 5G networks alone are pointless and meaningless. Yes, they do deliver technology advancements compared to 4G and its predecessors, in terms of higher speed, lower latency, but 5G technology alone does not deliver any transformational benefits to businesses and society, unless it is coupled with an ecosystem of partners; an ecosystem that together brings an end-to-end business solution with practical and tangible impact on enterprise operations, revenues as well as consumers’ quality of life.
Since entering the European market 20 years ago, Huawei has realized that innovation and business success depend upon “the collaboration of the many.” A concert can feature the most talented and successful musicians and singers in the world, but if they don’t play their instruments and/or sing in tune, the outcome would probably be anything but a beautiful and pleasant concert to listen to.
Local ecosystems are key to harness the business power of 5G in Europe
Since the first 5G trials in Europe in 2018, Huawei has realized the importance of the ecosystem to truly showcase the business power of 5G. To this end, Huawei has been engaging with several technology companies (from start-ups making their first moves to more established players) to showcase the business benefits of 5G.
The ecosystem spans across multiple use cases and industries. From a drone company capable of supporting safety & surveillance, powerline inspections, aerial broadcasting use cases； to a smart helmet manufacturer coupled with Augmented Reality /Field Engineering software vendors capable of supporting remote assistance use cases； to patient monitoring software vendors enabling remote visits /remote consultation；to CT scanning software vendors capable of producing and sharing CT scans among doctors located across hospitals and remotely；to Autonomous Vehicles that can support warehouse logistics operations, preventative maintenance in harsh and dangerous environments like oil refineries. Last but not least, AR/VR providers that develop innovative solutions for consumer entertainment in the sports and music domains. These are just some examples, which are set to multiply manifold as 5G coverage expands and benefits become tangible.
These local European partners (particularly the smaller partners, start-up companies) often consider Huawei’s powerful brand (Boston Consulting Group ranked Huawei as the 6th most innovative company in 2020) as a springboard to fast track their go-to-market, to ensure that the industry knows about them. Huawei introduced many of these partners to leading telecoms operators, manufacturing, energy, healthcare organizations in Europe. Without Huawei, many of these partners would not have had the opportunity to quickly establish a relationship with C-level decision makers from these large corporations.
Equally, without these partners, Huawei would not have been able to offer end-to-end business solutions to enterprise customers, with clear TCO, measurable business benefits.
The approach that Huawei & its local partners have taken in proposing 5G use cases consists of a simple three step approach:
- Understand the customers’ business pain points: for example, a manufacturing plant experiences X days of downtime per year as a result of unpredictable equipment breakdowns
- Explain why 5G is a must have vs. other technologies like 4G or Wi-Fi, for example enabling large data transfer, at super-fast speed, with minimal latency which are essential to implement a robust preventative maintenance system
- Quantify the business benefits, through real life, commercial Proof of Concepts (POCs). For example, measure how much the technology has reduced the equipment downtime (minutes, hours) and what this means in terms of cost reduction/productivity improvement.
This approach is key to then move projects from POCs to commercial deployments and showcase the 5G benefits on a larger scale, thus contributing to industry transformation.
Huawei understands the importance of the partner value chain to deliver 5G enabled business solutions. A value chain that, in addition to 5G equipment, requires application partners (such as AR/VR software vendors), device partners (such as autonomous vehicles, medical equipment, smart helmet vendors etc.), cloud and edge computing partners, as well as system integrators
It is clear that innovation is never a one-man show, but it requires close cooperation, trusted partnerships among multiple players. Divisions driven by trade wars, anti-globalization spirit are a deterrent to the entrepreneurial partnership spirit which is so vital for Europe at this difficult time.
I am absolutely convinced that business- driven innovation is key to deliver the much needed, long awaited digital transformation to ensure that business activity picks up again in Europe. Huawei – with its strong track record in R&D spending – and its European partner ecosystem – made up of many ambitious start-ups delivering cutting-edge innovation – can provide substantial contributions to what I call “Europe’s Digital Renaissance”
Alessandro Misiti, Senior Principal Consultant,
Huawei Western Europe