Huawei HAS (Or HAS Not)
Last week I saw HAS (2020), Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit, taking place amidst challenging times not only from the Covid Pandemic, but the increased negativity from the USA imposed sanctions.
Despite this the outlook was bold as Huawei’s leaders took to the stage laying out the importance of the trust shown by its partners, customers and employees and praising them all. Speaking of the challenges openly, the leadership was positive about the long-term outlook, much in my view backed by the breadth of technology leadership and depth of IP ownership and patents that the technology giant holds.
Huawei from a technology standpoint HAS a strong value proposition and leadership position. However, from the restrictions outside of its control comes the HAVE NOT, limitations being imposed onto regions and businesses abilities to gain competitive edge through use of Huawei technology offerings.
What came across strongly was the breath of Huawei’s reach and impact; with a strong 30-year foundation and having delivered over 1,500 networks across 170 countries and regions it has expended its partnerships by over 6,000 new partners in 2019 alone. What are these partners now to do, having selected this as the best technology offering to build upon and around? Go for lesser offerings, based on political influence or forge ahead to leverage the technology lead, and underpin their own market advantage?
It was a firm and grabbing statement early in the keynote to cite the quote from the famous Billy Ocean song “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”, but this was a consistent theme throughout all the sessions that Huawei is by no means standing still or standing down. It is confident in its capability and technology to stand tall and firm against the market adversity in 2020 and focus on a forward looking outcome.
The sanctions have an impact wider than that on the business here, but the ripples on Huawei have the possibility to become big waves for others around the world, limiting the technology option available to many. The intelligent world is rocketing ahead and with this comes an accelerated need for bandwidth and rollout of new tech. Anything that impedes this undermines us all and a delayed impact on 5G (as this could cause) will impact in excess of 3 billion people around the world who already rely on Huawei technologies.
Covid has driven a demand for bandwidth and we have seen services such as Netflix throttling delivery of high definition content in selected regions in this period, it was interesting to hear that this has not happened in China. The emphasis it was clear from several HAS20 sessions was how critical infrastructure has become during these times, as if it was not before, it is now literally essential.
The knock on effect to recent matters is not only to affect China and Huawei, as Boston Consulting Group cited that the restrictions could lead to the loss of the USA’s leadership position in the semi-conductor industry as if Huawei and other Chinese companies are not able to work with USA firms, it is likely home-grown Chinese alternatives will emerge giving Chinese challengers a boost.
It was also interesting with my cloud hat on to hear of Huawei’s cloud aspirations and their focus on 3 key aspects to create more ‘cloud’ value for their customers.
- The 30 years’ experience in providing a breadth of solutions to customers including infrastructure being the perfect springboard to extend to cloud offerings
- Huawei’s ability to leverage its own digital transformation experience to serve customers better for their own experience
- And finally, the strong Huawei DNA principal of innovation is the foundation to work with partners to develop joint cloud solutions and that this is already started with over 10,000 development partners on board
5G was the strong theme as expected with explosive growth already under way and 2020 expected to see 5G reach adoption numbers in 2 years that took 4G ten years to achieve. 5G is playing an important part during the pandemic (once we get past the fake news that 5G is the cause!) and Huawei focused on the longer term enablement for businesses to innovate new business opportunities and to transform edge computing to a new level of excellence. We are seeing reliance now that the 5G infrastructure rollout needs to go faster and not be slowed by political agendas. It has been cited that any slowdown impact will mean for example that the muted 2025 5G rollout completion will become impossible to achieve, Take note Mr. Trump!
Speakers touched on the expansive reach of 5G across mobile, collaborative experiences (online conferencing anywhere any device being a widespread must in 2020), automated cars, interactive video and use cases such as the flexibility this gives to TV remote broadcasts with micro-isation of devices and the footprint needed using 5G transmissions for High Definition results.
The strong theme of working together to build an intelligent world was clear, ironic given recent events and it was clear that the powerhouse of technology IP is not to be ignored, unless at acceptance that it will defer the ability of many to rollout 5G for a long time ahead, have knock on impacts on other sectors and mark a leading technologist as guilty with no trial.
I was impressed with the candour of how difficult subjects were covered and the robustness of the overall technology stack that Huawei has lined up through many years of investment and creativity.
Huawei has led a technology advance and pioneered through deep investment to be at the forefront to take so many into the new communications world. It was pertinent for me with local interest to find that they are funding a new £5 million technology hub at the Imperial College London to run a superfast 5G internet network and fund five years of research.
I would position that it is very much a HAS over a HAS NOT and that we may very well reflect in future years of the outcome of recent decisions. We need innovators in new technology to change, enhance and challenge the existing world and Huawei certainly fits into this bracket as a leading, sizeable name contributing to this ethic.