Every major leap in civilization helps us break through existing boundaries. By understanding and defining the boundaries in our world, we effectively transform the unknown into the known – and then we break through. This is the act of exploration, each success the dawn of a new day for civilization.
With the advent of the steam engine, we broke through the limits of manpower, plunging mankind into the industrial era. Then with the widespread use of electricity, we broke through the boundaries of propulsion and power, stepping forward from the age of steam to the age of electronics. With the invention of computers and the internet, we passed over yet another boundary, this time crossing the threshold of traditional industry into the information age.
Now in the 21st century, we find ourselves at the precipice of yet another revolution. The age of digital economy is on the rise, powered by new technologies like cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things. Digital transformation is sweeping the globe, and predictions about "digital being" that renowned author and scholar Nicholas Negroponte made over 20 years ago are starting to come true.
Boundaries in every aspect of our lives are blurring, converging. Intelligent connections between people and things are causing the digital world to merge with the physical world. Humanity finds itself on the path to rapid development, a better connected world where new business opportunities are born.
As we explore the digital world, the boundaries of technology evolving and converging.
3D printing is an important breakthrough in digital technology, advancing our approach to reducing material waste in the manufacturing process. The next step is 4D printing, where objects can change shape and reassemble themselves in response to different environmental factors, like temperature and humidity.
Beyond engineering objects, human genetic engineering is just around the corner too. In the past, it took the Human Genome Project ten years and $2.7 billion dollars to fully map out human DNA. Nowadays, genetic sequencing only takes a few hours and less than $1000 dollars. Ongoing developments in this technology will eventually give us the ability to customize biological traits and eradicate congenital disease.
Trends like mobile payments, driverless cars, and connected wearables will continue to unleash their potential, bolstered by ongoing innovation in digital technology like 5G, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things. Real-time exchange of information is not only a reality, but a regular part of daily life.
As new digital technologies emerge and converge, the boundaries between industries are also beginning to blur. Once siloed domains are merging, and an increasing number of organizations in traditional industries are exploring how they can deconstruct barriers and reconstruct their businesses with digital technology.
In the automotive industry, for example, cars have essentially become computers on wheels. In modern cars, digital components account for 40% of vehicle manufacturing costs. In the finance industry, blockchain technology, robo-advisory, and massive reductions in transaction and settlement costs are changing the way that traditional finance and investment institutions operate. The healthcare industry is using a sophisticated combination of physical, biological, and digital technology to make wearable and implantable technology that collects vital biometric data.
Companies that are driven by nonstop digital innovation are using technology to break through industrial boundaries. They are the disruptors, the shaker-uppers. IDC estimates that digital transformation will be a critical strategy for 67% of the world's top 2,000 companies. One-third of industry leaders will be overthrown by competitors who have taken the urgency of going digital to heart.
The emergence of the sharing economy has also introduced new possibilities for converging industrial boundaries. Just as media strategist Tom Goodwin writes, "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicle. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate." Something interesting is happening, indeed.
The formless feelers of digitization have already worked their way into municipal management, corporate operations, environmental protection, and public safety. We find its traces in every corner of work, life, and entertainment. The sheer creativity fueled by the digital transformation of our world is changing the shape and structure of society as we know it.
Digital transformation is key to driving innovation at the national level
Nations the world over are treating digital concerns at the national strategic level. Digital economic strategies, ICT development strategies, digital agendas, and digitization strategies are just the beginning of governmental exploration in the digital world. Ongoing progress depends on detailed, difficult work, requiring countries, industries, and research institutions to open up their doors and work together more closely than ever before. By building a more open digital ecosystem, they can leverage the strength of symbiotic relationships to address the uncertainties that lie ahead.
Huawei is working hard to promote and enable cross-sector collaboration. By dissolving the boundaries of its own organization, as well as those between itself and the outside world, Huawei is building an open ecosystem of manufacturers, scholars, governments, and research institutions to drive innovation and development in digital economy.
In 1999, Huawei launched a fund for university science and technology research, which later evolved into the Huawei Innovation Research Program (HIRP). The HIRP solicits proposals for funding, giving researchers the support they need to perform groundbreaking research. It also gives Huawei access to their results, which helps fuel our own innovation. Working closely with academia, we are collaboratively driving major innovations and breakthroughs in information and communications technology.
HIRP is now running in over 20 countries around the world, and has funded over 1,200 innovation research programs at more than 300 institutes of higher learning. Globally, the program involves two Nobel Prize laureates and more than 100 fellows from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), as well as thousands of experts and scholars.
To bolster these efforts, Huawei also promotes joint innovation and the formation of industrial alliances, like the 5G Industry Alliance (5GIA), as well as the NB-IoT Alliance and the eLTE Industrial Alliance. We have established 13 OpenLabs around the globe in cities like Munich, Mexico City, Dubai, Singapore, and Moscow, where we work with more than 400 solutions partners on joint innovation projects. As part of our efforts to build out the digital ecosystem, we are an active contributor to open-source ICT communities on OpenStack, and have launched a billion-dollar Developer Enablement Plan and the Consumer Cloud to build symbiotic alliances in the software development ecosystem. We are working hard to build out the global ecosystem and help drive the digitization of all industries.
Digital technology is shaping our future. Let's explore that future together.