Ken Hu, rotating chairman at Huawei
Ken Hu, rotating chairman at Huawei speaks on digitalisation in 2021. (Image: Supplied, Huawei)

  • As companies move towards digital transformation faster than ever, major development trends are beginning to emerge.
  • Artificial Intelligence and cloud technology are being utilized at an increasing pace as industries adjust to working from home.
  • Huawei has identified both the "boat and bridge" to reach digital transformation.


2020 was a difficult year for many people around the globe. But what it also brought, and in many ways forced, was the fastest adoption of technological changes on a large scale for all major industries.

Many communities and businesses were fortunate to be able to stay connected and stay safe in a time of self-isolation and working from home. 

This is because they had access to some of the key digital technologies at the forefront of innovation today.

"In many places around the world, online has become the new normal, and we're seeing more automation and intelligence in our lives," said Ken Hu, rotating chairman at Huawei.

Speaking at Huawei's Industrial Digital Transformation Conference 2021, Hu identified three major trends to pay attention to as the world propels towards digital adoption.

1. Digitalisation is speeding up and expanding to all sectors

Digitilisation is no longer just for internet companies anymore. "We have seen a major shift to traditional industries, like manufacturing, education, healthcare, finance, transportation and energy. Technologies like 5G, AI, cloud and the Internet of Things are refreshing business models."

2. Digital transformation has gone from the office to the factory floor.

Digital transformation is entering a new stage of intelligence. "We estimate that by 2025, 97% of all large enterprises will use AI, and 77% of all cloud applications will be powered by AI."

3. Cloud will greatly reduce barriers of entry

About 81% of enterprises use cloud technology at present globally, and estimates are that cloud adoption will reach 100% for all enterprises by year 2025. "The pandemic has pushed a lot of organisations onto the cloud, and we will likely see full cloud adoption one to two years earlier than we expected."

As a result, Huawei has built 13 OpenLabs to support joint innovation around the globe, working with 900 ecosystem partners. Thus far, they have verified 60 solutions to sectors such as smart manufacturing.

"The pandemic has pressed the fast forward button for digital transformation around the globe. At Huawei, innovating for our customer is why we exist, and as the world continues towards recovery, we will keep innovating in two areas: technology and scenario-based solutions, to help our customers in all industries go digital," said Hu.

The 'boat and bridge' to digital transformation

Peng Zhongyang, the President of Huawei Enterprise BG, says financial services are also undergoing profound changes as a result of this sped-up process.

Speaking at the same conference, Zhongyang said this could include the slow phasing out of centuries-old physical currency in favour of digital currencies.

Customers in the transportation industry are also looking for smoother traffic powered by technology, and in the energy industry, the focus is shifting from resources to technology.

Peng Zhongyang, President of Huawei BG
Peng Zhongyang, President of Huawei BG (Image: Supplied, Huawei)

To embrace the future of digital adoption, and to aid their customers, Huawei has identified the "boat" and "bridge" to reach digital transformation from extensive experience.

They consist of three basic principles: 

  • A focus on customer-centricity, 
  • Convergence of technologies like AI and the cloud,
  • Three-way collaboration.

One example of this value chain at work, was the creation of a smart inspection of China’s power grid. In the past, electricity inspectors had to climb 100m in the air to inspect towers and power lines in China. 

By integrating AI, cloud computing, big data and 5G, the China Southern Power Grid and Huawei could now record substation data 24 hours a day, error reporting became more efficient, and inspectors no longer had to risk their lives. It was effectively one of the first Artificial Intelligence of Things. 

"The pandemic of the century has hit at the same time as the fastest speed of change we have seen in 100 years. Digitilisation is today's greatest certainty, in an otherwise uncertain environment," said Zhongyang.

2020 may have brought the world to a stop, but as things start to pick up slowly, working together can create a more inclusive and resilient world that works better for everyone.

This post was sponsored by Huawei and produced by BrandStudio24 for Business Insider SA.