Closer cross-country partnerships will be pivotal in preparing economies for the post-pandemic world, says tech giant Huawei.
Remote learning, telehealth, and applications enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) will become part of the new normal.
"Covid-19 is an accelerator of digital transformation," said Huawei International Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Ma. "Technologies such as cloud, AI and 5G will reshape and transform our lives. It's time for us to reach out, band together and discover new opportunities."
Since entering the Singapore market in 2001, Huawei has enabled countless customers here to digitise their network infrastructure, operating systems and business transformation through integrated solutions across networks, IT, cloud and AI services to achieve their business goals.
As part of its business efforts, Huawei set up its regional headquarters for cloud and AI business in Singapore this year to serve the Asia- Pacific region region.
"Singapore, with its high-potential talents pool, is the leading AI innovation hub of the region. When it comes to AI ecosystem-based collaboration, we are happy to work together with the academic community and industries to promote AI development, which advances both technology and the industry as a whole," said Huawei Asia Pacific President Jeffery Liu.
At the recent Huawei Ecosystem Summit 2020, Huawei called for closer collaboration with its local partners as well as the acceleration of training and upskilling for local information and communication technology (ICT) professionals to boost joint innovation in solutions as Singapore doubles down on its push towards a digital future.
Building a sustainable ecosystem
At the summit, Huawei shed some light on its vision and strategy for working with the partners in its ecosystem here as the nation gradually reopens the economy.
It will invest $5 million this year in Singapore to nurture the ecosystem and strengthen joint solution innovation with local partners.
It will also continue to focus on ICT technologies, by expanding and strengthening connectivity and computing businesses by providing AI enablement across a variety of industries, with a focus on four core industries including the Government, finance, transportation and Internet service providers.
Said Mr Aaron Wang, managing director of Huawei Singapore Enterprise Business Group: "Organisations will need to redesign their services to adapt to the new normal. Digital technology powered by 5G, Cloud and AI will be pivotal in this transformation.
"Under Huawei's AI strategy, we will focus on connectivity and computing in Singapore by building an open ecosystem with our partners as we believe it will empower digital transformation for numerous industries, and help our ecosystem partners boost immunity eventually."
Despite mounting challenges in 2019, Huawei has established over 28,000 partnerships worldwide, with an annual growth rate of above 10 per cent for the eighth consecutive year. Eighty-six per cent of its enterprise business group's revenue was contributed through collaboration with its partners.
In Singapore, with the help of its partners, Huawei Singapore Enterprise's 2019 revenue increased by 20 per cent year-on-year, with a 68 per cent increase in the number of total certifications obtained by business partners.
Upskilling and training ICT professionals
The tech giant also announced at the summit that it has digitalised its 5G-powered AI Lab launched in Singapore last year. Users will now be able to access the AI Lab's applications easily via the cloud. Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to access and explore industry-focused digital transformation solutions supported by Huawei.
The AI Lab's capabilities have been further enhanced through its integration with the Virtual AI Academy. Huawei will offer Singaporeans free online training opportunities with over 140 courses in AI, 5G, cloud computing and big data that will help trainees reskill and upskill. These courses are designed to train and certify all levels of users, from amateurs to ICT professionals.
During Singapore's Circuit Breaker period, Huawei partnered local firms to enroll over 300 local ICT professionals at in its Virtual AI Academy for upskill training as a trial run.
Following the official launch of the academy last week, Huawei aims to certify 1,000 ICT engineers in Singapore by the end of 2021.
In addition to online courses, the academy also offers trainees hands-on experience through its simulation labs in AI development. In the next quarter of 2020, Huawei has further planned to launch Cyber Range courses to equip SMEs and partners with necessary cybersecurity skills.
Huawei has also been working with Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and the Singapore University of Social Sciences to help next-generation talents hone their digital skills.
"In the new AI era, a strategic partnership between National University of Singapore and Huawei in research and talent development will make a great impact on society," said Associate Professor Huang Zhiyong, deputy director, at National University of Singapore's Business Analytics Centre.
Said Mr Ma: "Singapore, with talent as its critical asset and competitive advantage, will continue to be a core driver of digital transformation in the intelligent era. As a member of Singapore's society, Huawei has a responsibility to deepen our long-term collaborations with local ecosystem partners.
"In times of crisis, with our 5G-powered AI Lab and the new Virtual AI Academy, we will continue to double our efforts to facilitate reskilling and upskilling of Singaporeans to increase their employability as well as work with SMEs on digitalisation. We believe that these efforts will help the ecosystem, and open up new business opportunities so that we can emerge stronger together."
Huawei also launched its Asia Pacific Ascend Partner Program to grow Singapore's pool of professional AI developers. It consists of three sub-programmes such as Independent Software Vendors (ISV) AI Collaboration, Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) AI Talent Cultivation, and Government AI Industry Development. Through the programme, Huawei and its partners will offer local developers support in AI development, knowledge transfer, go-to-market and strategic resources.
Going further together
Cloud, AI and 5G have already put some industries on the path towards the future. Healthcare, education and finance sectors have redesigned their services to continue helping their customers amidst these changing times.
In healthcare, for instance, Concord International Hospital in Singapore uses Huawei IdeaHub, an advanced intelligent whiteboard, to conduct telemedicine collaboration and remote video consultations to reduce cross infection among medical staff.
Medical workers caring for Covid-19 patients in the quarantine zone used Ideahub's video application to discuss treatments with experts in the non-quarantine zone. Doctors and nurses in the non-quarantine zone also used it to check on patients remotely. "It ensured communication efficiency and reduced contact between personnel," said Concord International Hospital chairman Yap Yaw Kong.
Schools have adapted quickly to the pandemic with online learning as well. In Singapore, the National Chinese Challenge, a renowned inter-school competition, will be held online for the first time in its seven-year history. It will be hosted on the online education platform Ulearning, jointly developed by its strategic partner, Huawei Cloud.
The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of digital transformation - it is no longer an option but an essential need for business continuity. In the era of intelligence, the key to a mutually beneficial ecosystem is to enable everyone to use their own strengths to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
"As the old saying goes, 'If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together,'" remarked Mr Ma. "Together, we will build a thriving ecosystem and usher in a fully connected, intelligent world."