Reflections On Huawei’s Analyst Summit 2016 – And Beyond

As always each year, Huawei hosted its analyst event in April, with hordes of analysts descending on Shenzhen. Here are a few observations from the event:

In 2015, Huawei’s revenues grew by 37% to €61 billion and its EBIT grew by 34% to €7 billion, keeping the operating margin stable at just under 12%. Huawei’s strategy paid off across all of its divisions in 2015. Huawei’s Carrier Business pushed deeper into carrier transformation support and grew by 21% in 2015. Its Consumer Business operations entered the mainstream: The division grew by 73% in 2015, with Huawei gaining the No. 3 spot in the global smartphone league table. Huawei’s Enterprise Business is gaining traction and grew by 44% in 2015.

There are four distinctive aspects that go some way to explaining why Huawei keeps on outgrowing its peer group. First, Huawei’s heart beats in its R&D division, and most of Huawei’s top managers have come through the ranks of the R&D team. Second, Huawei benefits from strong internal collaboration and flexibility. Compared with other vendors, Huawei seems a lot less process-driven. Instead, Huawei seems to tolerate, even encourage, self-organization among employees — despite strict management hierarchies. Third, Huawei has a flexible and unconventional approach to customer experience. Huawei completes projects that overrun without overanalyzing whose fault it is. Fourth, Huawei is not listed and therefore not answerable to external shareholders. This gives it the freedom to experiment and take a long-term view.

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Innovation Management Solutions Push Innovation That Creates Both Change And Value

Source: The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, Q2 2016

Innovation that only creates change is just that — change. When we asked firms about their major business objectives, 37% claim that product and service innovation is central to their business transformation.

But old-style innovation will be very tough to maintain. To exploit business value from digital technologies, innovation managers need to increasingly think in open ecosystems, open standards, open platforms, and open source software. Digital innovation equals service innovation, which in turn requires a willingness to experiment and engage in minimal-viable-product thinking, because:

  • As customers’ demand changes more quickly, innovation cycles must get shorter. Fast software innovation will “eat” slow hardware innovation given the ever greater role that software plays for today’s business value creation. An innovation management solution supports decision sessions and real-time voting and collaboration to quickly validate or gauge the interest of organizational priorities in short sessions. Organizations need to be willing to fail fast, be able to work iteratively on product and service improvements, run idea experiments based on soft-launches, and get feedback on innovation efforts via external feedback loops quickly.
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Businesses Need To Prepare For New Digital Realities

Photo: Bergmann

At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.

Businesses must focus on those activities that they can transform into digital business models. Not every industrial activity can become a digital business, but it will be impossible to succeed in digital transformation by developing a digital business and an industrial business and then operating them side by side indefinitely. GE sold 40% of its business activities because it felt that it could not transform them into digital businesses. For those industrial activities that can become digital businesses, executives need to be aware that:

  • Every industrial worker has to develop digital DNA. Industrial workers and mechanical engineers have to be comfortable interacting with digital systems. At GE, mechanical engineers have to design a locomotive in such a way that they can place a local data center inside it. Every industrial worker will have to have analytics skills, whether that’s the ability to create sensible and reliable data sets or to analyze and interpret these data sets.
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Managers Must Understand The Differences From Past Ways Of Doing Business

Photo: Bergmann

At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.

Industrial companies are very different from consumers: They don’t want to buy a great mobile or social experience; they care instead about business outcomes, such as lower energy consumption, faster cash cycles, or higher employee productivity. Digital transformation means that industry will do things differently than in the past.

  • Industrial firms will learn from the consumer world only up to a point. Industrial products are not developed, designed, and sold like consumer products. Uptime and longevity are critical in the mechanical-electrical world. Industrial products often have lifetimes spanning decades, rather than being replaced every two years like smartphones. Often, industrial equipment is not turned off for years, making ongoing software upgrades difficult. Moreover, the results of faulty industrial equipment like aircraft engines can be much more serious than for consumer products.
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The Next Decade Will Be About The Industrial Internet

Photo: Bergmann

“The industrial companies that can bring together cloud, open source, and real-time process management with industrial product cycles will be the ones that will win in the digital transformation process.”

William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital

At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.

Digital Transformation Is Happening And Offers New Opportunities

Companies that fail to embrace digitization won’t be able to compete in the next decade. William Ruh stressed that while the past decade was primarily about the consumer Internet, the next decade will be about the industrial Internet. Digitization offers one of the biggest opportunities in many decades to companies that are willing to change:

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Observations From Mobile World Congress From A B2B Perspective

Photo: Bergman

This year’s big technology themes at Mobile World Congress (MWC) can be summarized as big data, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR). These themes will be important for B2B players and especially for revolutionizing customer experiences, optimizing industrial and operational processes, and boosting service enhancements. My recently published report, “Brief: Observations From Mobile World Congress That Will Shape Your B2B Digital Transformation,” summarizes our observations from MWC 2016 and the key takeaways for developing B2B digital transformation strategies. We observed that:

  • The main MWC themes are increasingly intertwined. VR and AR will enhance user experiences on mobile devices and expand mobile moments. Big data will provide context-based, and more relevant, insights and use cases — including for VR and AR solutions.
  • Mobile data is driving digital customer experience. Enterprise apps are increasingly integrated with business processes. In turn, enterprise apps help generate data-derived insights from mobile objects and devices. This will help transcend app silos to generate a single view of the customer who benefits from a better end-to-end user experience.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. MWC feels near its zenith in terms of visitor numbers and industry impact. In 2016, nearly 101,000 attendees from 204 countries made it to MWC — more than ever. Yet, for business users MWC still falls short of translating mobility into tangible business benefits for digital transformation.
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Digital Business Ecosystems Rewrite The Rules Of Business

Customers use digital experiences to help satisfy their needs every day. Digital tools expand our experiences and change our lives at home and at work. Digital is now intertwined into the fabric of our lives at work and at home. We expect digital tools to add value to us no matter what we’re doing. Some 89% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next twelve months.

To keep up with the rapidly evolving digital expectations of customers, businesses must not just develop a digital strategy but also become a digital business. This means more than building a few bolt-on mobile apps. It’s a fundamental rethink of your business model within a dynamic digital ecosystem that impacts every aspect of your business.  

Transforming into a digital business is complex enough. But the rapid evolution of digital products and services makes it even more challenging for business leaders to navigate the landscape of digital business. Slow innovation cycles jeopardize the survival of traditional firms, and winning businesses will move toward an ecosystem business model. Digital businesses need to embrace digital ecosystems that support the continuous exchange of information and data to create value.

To master digital business, business leaders must minimize the complexity of digital ecosystems and learn to create value within such ecosystems. Digital ecosystems drive faster innovation, more efficient production, and more agile go-to-market activities, because:

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Expectations For Mobile World Congress 2016

The last year has flown by: In just a few weeks the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is on again. So what can we expect from the leading global get-together of mobile-heads this year? In my view there will be:

  • Less hype concerning mobile device launches. The leading smartphone and tablet providers will announce or showcase new models of established product lines, including more wearables and watches, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Sony’s Xperia Z6, LG’s G5, Huawei’s P9, HTC’s One M10, and Microsoft’s Surface Phone as well as newcomers like the Nextbit Robin or the OnePlus 2 Mini. Yet, I expect more of an evolution than a revolution. Blackberry might provide more insights into its future as device manufacturer beyond the Priv. Both Apple and Google will announce their upcoming devices at their own respective events, not at MWC. I am interested to see which way the pendulum is swinging: device commoditization or real new innovation. I expect the former.
  • Increasingly intertwined messaging of big data and IoT vendors. Big data will play an important part in most IoT solutions. Ultimately, IoT is not really about things but rather about data. Mobile-connected objects create scale and various channels for sensor data that flows back and forth. I will listen to how the messaging for front-end, customer-facing and back-end operational activities are emerging among IoT vendors like Nokia, Telstra, GE, Ericsson, and Salesforce but also among firms like ABB and John Deere. I expect AI and machine-learning to play a growing role for big data and IoT initiatives.
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IBM Opens Its Global Watson IoT Headquarters In Munich

IBM opened its global Watson Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich this week. It is hardly unusual for this quintessential global business to open research centers on a global scale. But the decision to move the HQ for one of the most dynamic areas of the digital transformation arena to Munich is noteworthy for several reasons. The move underlines that:

  • IoT has a very strong B2B component. Yes, IoT will play a role in consumer segments such as the connected home. But connectivity limitations and costs, compliance, and security will put many IoT ambitions in the consumer space to rest. The real action will be in the B2B space, where IoT will be elemental to drive activities like predictive maintenance, fleet management, traffic management, supply chain management, and order processing. Forrester expects the market size for B2B eCommerce, of which IoT is a subset, to be about twice that of B2C by 2020.
  • IoT and big data are closely intertwined. The real value of IoT solutions will not come from the hardware components of connected assets but from the data they generate and consume. In order to manage and make sense of the data that connected assets generate, cognitive systems and machine learning will play a fundamental role for the evolution of IoT. “Employing” Watson in the IoT context elevates IBM’s role in the IoT market significantly.
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Mobile Becomes A Key Success Imperative For CIOs

Forrester survey data highlights the urgency for the CIO to complete the mobile mind shift. In the age of the customer, great mobile solutions are the basis for catering to clients, empowering employees, and optimizing supplier and partner relationships. Yet, the mobile mind shift has its roots in the consumer environment. Most of us have gone “mobile native” over the last few years, having grown accustomed to using apps on our smartphones and tablets at home. This has changed the way we think, look for information, communicate with others, and conduct transactions.

Mobile is now a vital part of the CIO’s business technology agenda to help enhance customer experience, employee productivity, and new revenue channels. Every CIO will need to provide his organization with mobile solutions that support these business requirements. The lack of a comprehensive mobile approach with dedicated interdisciplinary teams for mobile and digital initiatives will translate into lower revenues and many business failures in the years ahead. The most visionary and forward-looking CIOs, meanwhile, are using mobile to build the steppingstones for their digital transformation:

  • Businesses that are most mature in mobile also have the fastest revenue growth rates. Forrester survey data highlights that the most “mobile-mature” organizations also have higher revenue growth rates than the mobile laggards. Mobility is thus an important revenue driver.
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