Going digital now ‘more real and urgent than ever’ – Huawei

Huawei rotating chairperson Eric Xu

ERIC XU Economic recovery from the pandemic and low-carbon development are both pushing organisations worldwide to increase the pace of their digital transformation

29th October 2021

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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New growth opportunities in digital technologies are increasingly emerging and becoming an important measure to increase effective investment and stimulate the development of the digital economy, says Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan.

“We believe that new growth opportunities have arrived. Innovative technologies are increasingly being used in more industries and diversified ecosystems are driving a more dynamic market,” he says, noting that, for South Africa, digital transformation will be critical to ensuring the country thrives in an age of mass disruption, which is taking place across a variety of industries as it presents major opportunities for those willing to take them.

“So many organisations around the world have recognised the value of digital transformation and are moving ahead at full steam,” says Huawei rotating chairperson Eric Xu, noting a global consensus on the importance of “going digital”.

“Recent developments have reminded us that digital transformation is now more real and urgent than ever.”

Xu cites consultancy McKinsey’s research showing the acceleration – by seven years globally and by a full ten years in Asia Pacific – of the digitalisation of products and services, owing to the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.

“McKinsey research also found that going digital is no longer viewed as some tedious and impractical endeavour. On the contrary, companies have proceeded 20 to 25 times faster than expected. “And now it is pretty much accepted that hybrid on-site and remote work will be the future of the workplace,” he explains.

Further, economic recovery from the pandemic and low-carbon development are both pushing organisations worldwide to increase the pace of their digital transformation.

“The good news is that the underlying technology has never been more ready. Many countries came to realise this in their efforts to grapple with the pandemic. “The development of the underlying digital technology and infrastructure has laid a solid foundation for digital transformation.”

Globally, there are 176 fifth-generation (5G) commercial networks and more than 10 000 projects exploring how 5G can drive industrial digitalisation, while the consumer uptake continues to grow, with more than 490-million 5G users worldwide.

He further notes that 81% of organisations worldwide are already using the cloud or have applications in the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) is developing faster than ever and has been adopted in every sector.

“In certain sectors, such as high-tech, telecoms, finance, automotive and assembly, AI adoption exceeds 60%, and in business services, healthcare and retail adoption rates are roughly 50%, 40% and 38% respectively.”

“Investing in digital transformation generally holds the potential to establish a foundation for interminable entrepreneurship and business dynamism, towards establishing South Africa’s digital economy,” comments Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) acting director-general Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani.

Digital technology can better integrate with business scenarios and industry know-how to address critical business challenges and stakeholders can work together more effectively to foster an open industry ecosystem and drive shared success.

Digital Economy

“We believe that by partnering with stakeholders from the private sector, we can together firmly establish technologies such as cloud computing in our digital economy for the benefit of our people,” she adds.

DCDT is deploying South Africa’s National eGovernment Strategies, which aim to better enable government through scalable digital platforms that deliver superior services and interface between government and its citizens, government to government, government to business and government to employees.

The goal is to have these digitalised, automated services rolled out by 2024, says Jordan-Dyani.

Huawei executive industry solutions manager Christo Abrahams comments that high adoption rates of innovative technologies and the roll-out of digital platforms in the private sector, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, had resulted in the personalisation of services now expected by citizens who want the same level of services from government as they receive from their banks or retailers.

“If you look at what happened during the pandemic, a number of organisations started implementing digital solutions which were primarily about business continuity and were also a cost takeout because they were under siege. But over time, a number of organisations have implemented digital solutions,” adds BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi.

Bogoshi highlights important pillars for digital transformation, including automation.

“The adoption of robotic process automation has gained momentum. “The reasons for this are clear: getting the machines to focus on repetitive, mundane jobs and letting humans focus on strategic jobs just makes sense.”

The other pillars are cloud and cybersecurity, while another consideration should be to “humanise technology”, he says, noting that the digitalisation transformation journey should start with humans in mind and not with the technology.

Huawei Cloud Southern Africa VP Michael Langeveld highlights the importance of the cloud as one of the biggest enablers of digital transformation in the public sector.

“A shift to cloud computing will open up avenues to other emerging technologies which have the potential to bring meaningful change to the availability, accessibility and quality of government services. “The cloud will enable government to modernise services that are entrenched in legacy systems and quickly create citizen-facing services,” he explains.

Langeveld adds that meaningful collaboration between the private and public sectors would be key to leveraging the full potential of the South African economy and driving the transformation of government with digital technologies.

“As a provincial government, and with the help of Huawei, we are trying to digitalise the province. We have, for instance, rolled out Thusong Centres, which are equipped with WiFi and designed to help ordinary citizens access government services digitally and apply for jobs online.

“We will be able to connect clinics, hospitals, schools and libraries with technology to ensure that they are in the best possible position to serve their customers,” says Gauteng eGovernment chief director Khuliso Muthivhi.

“Digital transformation is a long-term process that will not happen overnight. Fortunately, the technology sector is more dynamic and vibrant than ever,” Xu concludes.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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