Reflections On Huawei’s Analyst Summit 2017 — Past, Present, And Future

In April 2017, Huawei hosted its annual Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, China. Huawei’s financial year 2016 was remarkable as the group grew revenues by 32% to US$ 75 billion, making Huawei the largest global network solutions vendor by revenues, way ahead of its traditional competitors Cisco, Nokia, and Ericsson. This calls for some reflections about Huawei’s journey, its past achievements, and its current focus areas. This will help us to understand where Huawei might be heading in the future.

I have been following Huawei for over 10 years. Over this short timeframe, I have seen Huawei grow into the largest global telco network infrastructure vendor, becoming a leading global smartphone manufacturer, migrating from a low-cost hardware manufacturer toward an innovative product developer, ramping up its service capabilities, moving into delivering products and services to the enterprise segment, and pushing into software development.

These achievements underline that Huawei has achieved an awful lot since rising from its humble beginnings as a producer of phone switches in Shenzhen in 1987. For years, its core competitors have underestimated the capabilities and determination of Huawei to succeed. At the Huawei Analyst Summit 2017, I picked up three key focus areas for Huawei in 2017:

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Google Next 2017 Review: Google Cloud Is A Serious Contender In the Public Cloud Space

With Nigel Fenwick and Glenn O'Donnell

In the past few years, Google has made concerted efforts to target the enterprise cloud computing space. At Next 2017, more than 11,000 customers, partners, developers, and analysts joined Google in San Francisco to learn more about Google Cloud’s latest enterprise updates. We compiled this post following a review of the event with all the Forrester analysts who attended. Here’s our quick assessment from a CIO and CTO perspective:

  • Google Cloud’s enterprise pitch as a public cloud vendor has potential for tech leaders. Google primarily competes with AWS, Azure, and IBM in the cloud platform segment. Our impression is that Google offers superior technology compared with many other vendors in the enterprise space – but not all. Google has a good IaaS story, but its PaaS capabilities lag behind AWS. Google is not about to dethrone AWS or Azure right now, but it has a good chance to become a powerful competitor to them as it expands globally.
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Power Your Digital Ecosystems With Business Platforms

Platforms” are fast becoming all the rage in the B2B context. Several traditional businesses like GE or Siemens are claiming to either offer or become a platform operation. A big driver for platforms in the B2B context has been the success of consumer-focused platform businesses like Amazon, Uber, or Airbnb.

Although the reality of B2B platforms looks more mundane than the hype, platforms in the B2B context offer real benefits to ecosystem participants. In the B2B context, the emergence of business platforms, like SupplyOn or GE’s Predix, primarily delivers new opportunities for enhanced customer engagement and operational efficiencies and agility.

Business platforms empower ecosystem participants to successfully cater to emerging multistakeholder environments through real-time, near cost-free, and omnidirectional information exchange. Business platforms empower ecosystems by facilitating the information exchange between products, partners, customers, and vendors. Business platforms support:

  • The infrastructure that connect ecosystem participants. Business platforms help organizations transform from local and linear ways of doing business toward virtual and exponential operations.
  • A single source of truth for ecosystem participants. Business platforms become a single source of truth for ecosystems by providing all ecosystem participants with access to the same data.
  • Business model and process transformation across industries. Platforms support agile reconfiguration of business models and processes through information exchange inside and between ecosystems.
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Trust Must Be The Foundation Of Your B2B Digital Ecosystem

Far from being a soft issue, trust underpins the management of your digital business and digital ecosystems. Trust is one of the most vital elements of any business relationship. But the shift away from linear value chains focused on internal relationships toward more open networks of relationships in the context of digital ecosystems has made trust a critical driver of new revenue opportunities and more efficient operations. As the foundation of your B2B digital ecosystem, trust has a significant impact on your bottom line as:

  • Multistakeholder relationships are gradually replacing interpersonal relationships. Enterprise customers expect their presales and aftersales engagements with vendors to be coherent and consistent. CIOs must support trust-building technology across the value chain.
  • Digital transformation that doesn’t put trust at the center will fail. Digital alters business dynamics. Trust is the oxygen of business activity. Without trust, all enterprise stakeholder relationships are suboptimal.
  • Trust scores will emerge to certify the trustworthiness of business and workers. To overcome the challenges of false identities and data tampering, data custodians will emerge to authenticate identities and ensure data quality.
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Bosch Connected World 2017 – Lessons From IoT Practitioners

With Paul Miller

In March 2017, Bosch hosted its annual internet-of-things (IoT) conference, Bosch Connected World (BCW), in Berlin. Since last year, the event has doubled in size, attracting 2,500 attendees from businesses and vendors. This jump reflects the growing interest in IoT. The number of attendees, however, also highlights the relative immaturity of IoT compared with bigger technology themes. Despite being smaller than events such as GE’s Minds + Machines or Mobile World Congress, BCW has established itself as a premier IoT event, as it has a very distinct “IoT practitioner” feel to it. We took away some key observations for IoT practitioners from the event:

  • To succeed in IoT, you must build and participate in open ecosystems. No vendor or end user can plan, build, and run end-to-end IoT operations that address the entire customer life cycle. This message comes through loud and clear at all the IoT events that we attend, be it IBM’s Genius of Things or GE’s Minds + Machines, and it was repeated by all the BCW speakers. The notion of coopetition was tangible, with Bosch emphasizing its partnerships with IBM, Software AG, Amazon, GE, SAP, and many more. Also noticeable was that all ecosystem participants are grappling with what it means for the shape of their business and their relationship with the customer.
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Make Omnichannel A Cornerstone Of Your Digital Transformation – The Telco Angle

Source: Forrester, "Make Omnichannel A Cornerstone Of Your Telecom Digital Transformation"

Poor customer experiences remain the Achilles’ heel of telcos’ digital transformation efforts. We live in the age of the customer, and today’s telco customer has expectations that far exceed the traditional standard of telco customer service. A random search on Trustpilot for customer satisfaction with telcos in various countries shows widespread dissatisfaction.

Offering customers seamless omnichannel experiences is critical for telcos’ digital transformation efforts. Today, customers expect to use a variety of digital touchpoints. This omnichannel approach affects telcos’ customer engagement activities at every stage of the customer life cycle, yet many telcos are still struggling to meet their customers’ rising expectations for coherent end-to-end customer engagement. This matters because omnichannel:

  • Is central to telcos’ customer experience initiatives. Customers do not care about channels. They want to have great experiences irrespective of how they engage with telcos.
  • Is more of a cultural transformation than a technology project. Omnichannel solutions require a telco to think about the customer journey from the perspective of the customer. This is a radical break with the past.
  • Opens opportunities for telcos to act as third-party service brokers. Omnichannel will empower telcos to act as service brokers for third parties if they can align their big data, content, and knowledge management strategies.
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Platforms Are The Foundation For New Value Creation

While a lot has been written about consumer-facing platforms like Facebook and Uber, the platform impact on business-to-business relationships has not been as extensively investigated. However, these “business platform models” are transforming the way how traditional businesses create value. Business platforms will reorganize a wide variety of markets, work arrangements, and ultimately value creation and capture.

Business platforms push productivity improvements beyond automation activities. The real value creation now comes from analyzing data. These platform dynamics force every business to rethink its approach to innovation, marketing, sales, product development, delivery, and customer engagement. Business and technology leaders need to prepare to platform dynamics for several reasons:

  • Platforms change customer behavior and how businesses interact with customers. Business platforms will trigger radical changes to how we work, engage with customers, create value, and compete for the resulting profits. These business platforms offer companies fast access to scalable expertise at transparent cost and drive the much needed agility to quickly adjust customer experiences to changing requirements.
  • Business platform value creation centers on information gathering, sharing, and analyzing. Platforms focus on information exchange and provide an easier, more transparent way to access, analyze, and share this information. Business platform owners are developing power that may be more influential than that of the actual factory owners. But business platform owners do not have to own all factors of production; they tap into the expertise of platform participants.
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Mobile World Congress 2017: As Mobile Is Morphing Into Digital, Use Cases Matter More

Mobile World Congress (MWC) which took place in Barcelona once again broke new records in terms of attendees, reaching 108,000. Yet, discussions with end-user businesses indicate that mobility is often no longer treated as a standalone focus area by CIOs and CTOs. Mobility has become part of the broader digital transformation initiative. This has implications for mobile strategies. It also affects the decision where a business leader turns to in order to find inspirations for her digital transformation initiative.

Of course, mobility remains a critically important building block for all digital transformation initiatives. But mobility is part of a wider technology-driven business transformation. In my view, the biggest themes at MWC in 2017 that are relevant for digital transformation relate to IoT, AI, platforms, collaboration, and connectivity. I discuss what these themes mean for the CIO in a separate blog.

Importantly, all of these themes are interwoven. Hence, the CIO needs to build her digital transformation strategy on a comprehensive approach - with mobility is right at the heart. Still, there remains a risk that the CIO gets sucked into pursuing a compartmentalized technology strategy that lacks a comprehensive view of the real business objectives. It is essential that the CIO avoids a ‘bolt-on approach’ to these technology investments because of the technology interdependencies.

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Mobile World Congress 2017: Observations Regarding The Main Enterprise Themes

Recently, the largest annual get together of the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place in Barcelona. In my opinion, the biggest themes at MWC in 2017 that are relevant for enterprise customers were the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), platforms, collaboration, and connectivity. These themes underline how mobility is becoming part of the broader digital transformation initiative. I discuss this shift in this separate blog and report. MWC provided several valuable insights for business and technology leaders to align their mobile to their digital strategies:

-> Not everything that claims to be AI is true AI. Many vendors that claimed during MWC to be AI-proficient are in fact able to deliver true machine-learning solutions to generate transformative customer and operational insights. Most solutions that were branded as AI at MWC rely on preprogrammed responses and statistics rather than machine learning.

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AI's Emerging Role In IoT Highlighted At IBM Genius Of Things Event

Photo: Bergman Group

IBM hosted an artificial intelligent (AI) event at its Munich Watson IoT HQ, where it underlined its claim as a leading global AI and internet-of-things (IoT) platform providers in the enterprise context. AI and the IoT are both very important topics for enterprise users. However, there remains some uncertainty among enterprises regarding the exact benefits that both AI and IoT can generate and how businesses should prepare for the deployment of AI and IoT in their organizations.

One year into the launch of its Munich-based Watson IoT headquarters, IBM invited about one thousand customers to share an update of its AI and IoT activities to date. The IBM “Genius of Things” Summit presented interesting insights for both AI and IoT deployments. It underlined that IBM is clearly one of the leading global AI and IoT platform providers in the enterprise context. Some of the most important insights for me were that:

  • AI solutions require a partner ecosystem. IBM is well aware of the fact that it cannot provide IoT services on its own. For this reason, IBM is tapping into its existing partner ecosystem. Those partners are not only other vendors. IBM’s ecosystem partnership approach embraces also customers such as Schäffler, Airbus, Vaillant, or Tesco. The event demonstrated how far IBM has matured in living and breathing customer partnerships in the IoT solutions space. For instance, IBM’s cooperation with Visa regarding secure payment experiences for any device connected to the IoT is an example of a new quality of ecosystem partnership.
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