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Huawei's Ken Hu: The Intelligent World is Here

Apr 16, 2019

[Shenzhen, China, April 16, 2019] At the 16th Huawei Global Analyst Summit, Huawei Deputy Chair Ken Hu shared the company's insight into broader industry trends and the Huawei's strategic direction.

"The intelligent world is already here. We can touch it," he said. "As an industry, we're at the threshold of enormous opportunity. Huawei is determined to build a world with ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive intelligence, delivering intelligent experiences across all scenarios, and make sure that every person, home, and organization has access to the benefits."

The speech script is as follows:

2018 was a fruitful year for us.

While we made significant progress in business and technology, we did have some challenges. But to us it's like riding a wave. You have your ups and downs, but while you're actively dealing with short-term challenges, you have to pay attention to your long-term targets.

So today I would like to talk with you about how we see the future at Huawei. And how we’re going to move forward.

The intelligent world is within reach

Around two years ago we announced our new vision and mission: Bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. This intelligent world is coming much faster than we expected. In fact, it's already here. You can touch it.

Zero search: Information will come to you

In the intelligent world, we won't have to search. Because everything we want will come to us. This will be a brand new experience. We won't need remote controllers anymore, or buttons on machines. As consumers we will interact with devices – with the digital world – in a totally different way.

We'll be free. Our hands will be free. Our eyes will be free. And eventually our minds will be free. This will be a big step forward.

Super sight: See what you couldn’t before, understand what you see better

Super sight will be enabled by technologies like 5G, AI, machine learning, VR and AR. It will help us break through barriers in distance, space, and knowledge.

With super sight, we will be able to see things we couldn't see before. And we will be able to better understand what we already see.

Let me give you some examples. With AI-powered robots, we can change the way we do site inspections. We can use them to inspect underground pipes, for example. This is a pretty hard job.

With robots, we can go anywhere we want. It doesn't matter how far or how deep. We can use them to help us identify and locate damage in places we couldn't go before.

Another example. With AI, eye doctors can predict and diagnose eye disease during basic eye exams. In the past, only very experienced specialists could do this. But now all they need is basic equipment. It makes a big difference.

Zero search and super sight are just two exciting examples. We will see many similar trends in the coming years.

Strategic focus on connectivity, intelligence and experience

Next I would like to talk about how we’re going to build this intelligent world.

Building ubiquitous connectivity

Connectivity is the foundation of the intelligent world. And if we're going to talk about connectivity, we have to talk about 5G.

5G came to us much faster than we expected. The first year after standards were frozen for 4G, there were no chipsets for phones yet. There was only one 4G network with 400 base stations. And there were no 4G smartphones.

Do you remember the first device that came out for 4G networks?

It was an internet dongle. I’m sure that many of us used them back in the 4G era. There were no smartphones in the first year.

Clearly we have a much faster pace with 5G. Today, less than one year after standards were frozen, we have four 5G chipset suppliers. Over 40 5G commercial networks are being deployed around the world, with 100,000 base stations. Smartphones were ready almost at the same time as the networks, with more than 40 announced already.

So at this pace, we are confident that our industry will be able to build its user base faster. In the 3G era, it took ten years for the whole industry to build a user base of 500 million people. And it took five years in the 4G era.

We anticipate that, with 5G, it will only take three years.

By the year 2025, we estimate there will be 6.5 million base stations deployed, with 2.8 billion users around the world. 5G networks will cover 58% of the world's population.

5G is a revolution, not just faster 4G. With 5G, connectivity will become a platform. It will no longer be pipe. This will make it possible to get everything online, all the time, and get all applications up on the cloud. We will have great opportunities to redefine devices, and eventually, we will be able to create a brand new, seamless experience.

5G eMBB is already changing industries. For instance, 5G is already changing the media industry, bringing better quality and more immersive content. So there is no need to wait for Release 16.

As 5G matures, we believe that the VR and AR will reach a tipping point this year. We anticipate that, by the year of 2025, the world will have 340 million AR and VR users. And 9% of companies will use VR/AR for industry applications.

Thus far there have been some major barriers to VR adoption. Specifically: computing power, clunky headsets, and an uncomfortable user experience. With 5G networks, we can break through all of these. We can make thinner and lighter headsets with more natural and comfortable user experience, with no dizziness.

Earlier this year, we announced the first foldable 5G smartphone, the Mate X. By combining 5G networks and foldable big screens, we will see lots of disruptive applications in gaming and eLearning. You can expect to see more in these areas later this year.

Our target is to help our customers build simpler, more powerful, and more intelligent networks. That means smaller equipment, easier installation, and easier network operations. 5G will provide a stronger network performance, reasonable end-to-end costs, and greater efficiency.

We have already secured 40 commercial 5G networks around the world and shipped 70,000 base stations.

Building Pervasive Intelligence

AI is already here. And we're already using it to create value for many different vertical industries, like environmental protection, healthcare, and transportation.

In recent years we've observed that AI is accelerating the adoption of cloud. Two years ago, many companies were struggling over whether or not they should go cloud. Now they are talking about how they can go cloud faster.

This is a big change. And the main driver is AI, because companies know that AI can help them create bigger, better value from their data in the cloud.

Based on our own data, we anticipate that, by the year of 2025, all companies will use cloud. 97% of big enterprises will use AI, and 77% of applications in the cloud will be supported by AI.

Needless to say, AI will be key to future competition in cloud.

We have identified two main challenges for companies using AI. First, computing power, which is too expensive. Second, application development, which is too difficult for most companies. You need special tools, special experts.

So we have focused our efforts on these two main challenges. Starting with chips. We have announced a series of AI chipsets that will provide much stronger computing power on Huawei Cloud. We have also released our own AI application development platform, ModelArts. With this platform, our customers can easily develop AI applications on their own.

With our heavy investment in AI technology, we will make Huawei Cloud different. We have already started providing industry-specific AI services through Huawei Cloud for over 10 vertical sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and transportation. With our strategic investment in AI, we are confident that we'll take the lead in cloud.

Delivering intelligent and seamless experience

These days we use more and more smart devices and applications. And yet our digital experience isn't as pleasant as we want it to be. Because we have to switch back and forth between them all the time.

The experience is fragmented.

At Huawei, we are going to build an intelligent, seamless experience and put consumers – but ourselves – back at the center of that experience.

HiAI is at the core of it all. In devices and on the cloud, HiAI helps our devices to better sense, understand, and interact with consumers. On the hardware side, our HiLink platform connects all Huawei devices, and also devices from our partners.

On the software side, we will break app functionality down into smaller micro-services. And with the support of AI, our devices will be able to combine and provide these micro-services to consumers in real time, as they need them.

This is the zero search experience.

Building trust – the foundation of the digital world

Trust is critical in the digital world. Nowadays, we're using more and more digital technology. We're sharing more and more data. So naturally, people have more concerns about the safety of digital technology and privacy of their data.

At Huawei, we fully understand these concerns. Both as consumers, and as technology providers, we believe that we need to take action to make sure that the digital world is safer for everyone.

That means we have to do our own job better, first. We've been actively enhancing our end-to-end capabilities on cybersecurity and privacy protection.

At the end of last year, we announced a big transformation plan. Over the next five years, we will invest $2 billion dollars to enhance our software engineering capabilities. We hope this will help us to better address security challenges for the whole industry. And give us the opportunity to take a leading position in this area.

This March, we also opened a new Cyber Security Transparency Center in Brussels. We will use this center to work more closely with our partners on standards, verification, and innovation.

Security is a broad topic with a broad array of elements. Beyond Huawei, ee need a more systemic, all-industry, full-society approach to build trust. That includes establishing cyber security standards for all industries. It also includes establishing independent evaluation mechanisms for all companies.

Because we believe that both trust and distrust should be based on fact. Facts should be verifiable, and verification should be based on standards.

We're pleased to see that the European Union is doing great work in this area.

Digital inclusion-Tech4All

Technology is cool. But we need to make sure that everybody can benefit.

Today we still face quite a few challenges in terms of connectivity, applications, and even digital skills.

Right now, roughly 50% of the world's population has no access to the Internet. And even in an advanced markets like Europe, 43% of residents lack basic digital skills like searching for information online.

Those are huge gaps. As a technology company, we need to make sure that nobody is left behind.

So that's the reason why we announced a special program at the beginning of this year. We call it Tech4All. In this program, we're aiming to help another 500 million people in the next five years directly benefit from digital technology. We will focus on connectivity, applications, and skills.

We're expanding this program into many domains, and we want to make it a joint effort with our customers, our partners, and governments in different countries around the world.

We believe that any small progress can help us make a big difference.