We can all agree that the future is coming, whether we like it or not. And that future will be carried in 5G waves.
Of course, I exclude from that statement the Brexiteers who seem convinced that returning to the past, with workhouses for the poor and political power and wealth reserved for the elite, is the way forward. Well, Brexit aside (PLEASE), the future banging boldly on our door is a connected one and the technology that will take us into a wireless world of IoT, smart cars, immersive technology and wearables is 5G. And as I discovered at Huawei’s Innovation Day event earlier this month the key to a successful digital future is infrastructure and political will.One thing none of us can disagree about is that the future is coming, whether we like it or not! Click To Tweet The installation of new infrastructure is not something we excel at here in the UK where we still use a train network built by the Victorians Click To Tweet
Released this month, Huawei’s white paper ‘Digital Nation: Stronger Economy, Better Society, Adept Governance’ (available here) breaks down the actions governments looking to build for the future need to undertake if any new digital society, government and economy are to succeed. The installation of new infrastructure is not something we excel at here in the UK where we still use a train network built by the Victorians and where successive governments have been ambivalent about truly modernising our country and economy even as the digital age inexorably advances. However, there is still time, (nudge nudge any politicians reading) to do it right and ‘Digital Nation’ spells out how to go about it in simple terms for the rather “limited” leadership we now suffer here in Blighty.
Digital Nation is a roadmap for governments aiming to put their countries into the fast lane of sustainable development in the 21st Century. Click To Tweet
“Digital Nation is much more than a pep talk or a paean of praise for the new information and communications technologies. Digital Nation is a roadmap for governments aiming to put their countries into the fast lane of sustainable development in the 21st Century.” Explained the renowned Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, “Most importantly, Huawei draws on its deep knowledge of the new and emerging technologies, and its remarkable global experience, to highlight practical steps for governments to follow to create a dynamic, healthful, productive digital nation. Huawei also points out several possible roadblocks and impediments, and how to avoid or overcome them.”
Apart from his invention of the word “healthful”, there is nothing here any sane, digitally aware person could disagree with. The paper outlines how research shows that the economy and society transform alongside ongoing digitalization. According to the report published by Huawei and Oxford Economics, digitalization will produce a sustaining effect on the economy, for every one US dollar invested in digital, GDP will grow by 20 dollars.Digitalization will produce a sustaining effect on the economy, for every one US dollar invested in digital, GDP will grow by 20 dollars Click To Tweet
Digitalization will also facilitate the fulfilment of the UN’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), promoting an increase to economic efficiency in all industries, through the creation of new business models with traditional enterprises applying new digital technologies to enhance their competitive advantages. The convergence of finance and technology is also resulting in the emergence of a new wave of FinTech enterprises that Britain, as a global financial services hub, should be championing.
All of our industries and sectors will benefit from a coherent digital strategy, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can effectively increase carrying capacity and speed, and lower the failure rate of infrastructure. Smart grid technology is helping to optimize power generation, transmission, transformation, storage, distribution, and consumption. In manufacturing, traditional manufacturers are upgrading by digitalizing technological processes, with many new products & technologies emerging as a result.Applications such as virtual classrooms have gradually matured, and are alleviating difficulties previously faced in education. Digitalization optimizes resource allocation and improves lives Click To Tweet
Globally, intelligent health risk prevention, public medical resources sharing, facilitation of professional training, and collaborative operation of medical facilities will solve key pain points in the healthcare field. Other applications such as remote education, customized content, and virtual classrooms have gradually matured, and are alleviating difficulties previously faced in education. Clearly, digitalization optimizes resource allocation and improves lives across the board. However, this can only happen if we build a digital network capable of supporting it.
Digitalization will assist in the realization of interactive policy channels, self-service transactions, integrated data management, and reliable information encryption in order to improve government services Click To Tweet
“Perhaps the most important lesson imparted by Huawei is the need to think, plan, and act holistically, and inclusively. The digital revolution can help the world to achieve key global goals – shared prosperity, good governance, high-quality public services, and environmental protection – if the digital technologies are deployed in an open environment that encourages mutual communications among citizens, consumers, businesses, and government, and the inclusion of all citizens.” Continued Prof. Sachs. “The government has a major responsibility to ensure that the digital systems benefit from unified standards, integrated management, and adequate financial resources.”
It’s important to point out that digital innovation won’t only help business and the public but would also help governments govern. Digitalization could improve government efficiency, urban administration and assist in the realization of interactive policy channels, self-service transactions, integrated data management, and reliable information encryption in order to improve government services. Digitalization will also boost the formation of a new-era urban management system with self-adaptive environmental protection, independent emergency response, self-verifiable food traceability, and autonomous municipal regulations. I could go on but think my point is made.
Every nation will encounter difficulties and challenges during the process of digitalization, including ambiguity about who should organize and implement the initiatives, insufficient supporting resources, inadequate societal participation, a lack of flexible response to change (Nooooooo never), and lack of unified standards. Therefore, the paper suggests, governments should act now and take proactive measures such as organization, investment, implementation, and regulation to effectively act as practitioners, motivators, and regulators in digitalization.Governments should act now and take proactive measures such as organization, investment, implementation and regulation, to effectively act as practitioners, motivators, and regulators in digitalization Click To Tweet
Digitalization is a global trend. With the development of infrastructure and technology (broadband, Internet, cloud, big data, and the Internet of Things), digitalization has also undergone a gradual transition from basic informatization to more comprehensive intelligent capabilities. Based on national digitalization strategy statements and the relevant definitions put forward by major economic organizations and experts, Huawei and Roland Berger propose a theoretical framework for a Digital Nation (Figure below). Empowered by digitalization, a Digital Nation can promote economic vitality, bolster societal wellbeing, and improve governance efficiency and fairness.
Empowered by digitalization, a Digital Nation can promote economic vitality, bolster societal wellbeing, and improve governance efficiency and fairness Click To Tweet
Key measures include building a top-down and integrated digital department, establishing a vertical organization specialized in key areas, expanding sources of funding, investing in ICT infrastructure, attracting and training digital talent, forming internal technical foundations, providing open access to public governmental database, implementing digital applications for e-Government, cultivating a digital ecosystem, developing global standards, establishing evaluation indicators, and ensuring data security and privacy, as well as encouraging the exchange of data.If we in the UK are to thrive outside the EU we need to take ourselves seriously and get started building a viable digital future or we will be left even further behind Click To Tweet
Key measures include building a top-down and integrated digital department, establishing a vertical organization specialized in key areas, expanding sources of funding, investing in ICT infrastructure Click To Tweet
The first level of need is to deploy ICT infrastructure. This is the foundation of a digital economy. Take China as an example. The digital economy is developing rapidly, and the industrial scale of digital transformation reached CNY21 trillion in 2017, accounting for 25% of China’s total GDP. This development was attributed to the rapid construction of ICT infrastructure. Today, China has over 3.4 million 4G base stations, accounting for over 55% of the total mobile communications base stations worldwide. As video, virtual reality, and Industrial Internet of Things gain momentum, the speed of 5G network construction is increasing, says Guo Ping, Chaiman of Huawei
Now it is important to note that as a Chinese company Huawei has been widely discredited as a technology and 5G infrastructure supplier and was, most recently, rejected by New Zealand as a possible partner for 5G implementation. However few people point out that they are already embedded in our UK national 4G infrastructure so are we now going to blindly follow the likes of America and cut them out of our vital 5G investment? I seriously doubt Britain will grasp the nettle and digitise our way to Brexit glory but we need to take Huawei’s advice as we are way behind here and if we are to thrive – or, perhaps more realistically, survive – outside the EU we need to take ourselves seriously and get started or we will be left even further behind.