A decade ago, it would have been impossible for the Philippines’ mum-and-dad sari-sari stores to imagine that they could cut out middlemen and earn more as a result. Thanks to a new wave of digitalisation, an app is helping them sell daily provisions to procure inventory directly at a cheaper rate, according to a report by business media outlet The Ken.
The development is just one example of how digital transformation can benefit underserved segments of the community. Chinese tech giant Huawei is helping to accelerate that transformation in Asia-Pacific through its suite of scenario-tailored solutions and services.
Nicholas Ma, President of the Huawei Asia Pacific Enterprise Business Group, explains how the company is playing a role in Asia-Pacific’s digital transformation, especially in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Foundations of transformation
Digitalisation is reshaping Asia-Pacific economies, but more investment in digital infrastructure and human capital is needed to boost growth and raise living standards, Ma says.
In Thailand, for instance, Huawei is helping Srinakharinwirot University (SWU) to improve its WiFi coverage, laying a solid foundation for various smart campus applications. The university worked with Huawei to overhaul its main network and monitoring system, says Ma.
SWU had wanted to upgrade its IT systems after facing several problems including unstable WiFi and the lack of a centralised system to support the use of educational applications at its two campuses.
Huawei increased the internet speed at the university’s campuses and reduced lag times. With Huawei’s networks, the university is able to use technologies requiring high-speed internet, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
The university’s network is now supporting additional devices to bring VR into classrooms and enhance learning. SWU is also using AI applications and smart AI cameras managed from a centralised “command centre” to improve safety on campus.
Digital infrastructure is likewise making a difference in Asia-Pacific’s finance industry. In Thailand, Government Savings Bank has overhauled its ageing IT systems and started using Huawei’s SD-WAN (software defined wide-area network) technology, allowing it to access IT resources across a large range of software and hardware products.
Previously, the bank’s IT systems relied on tools that had been discontinued, making updates problematic and leading to high maintenance costs. That also hindered the bank’s data transfers to the cloud and jeopardised its plans to expand its IT capabilities.
Huawei’s SD-WAN technology helped Government Savings Bank to connect its headquarters with remote branches seamlessly, allowing staff to transmit data to and from branch offices more efficiently and to deliver banking services to customers more rapidly.
SD-WAN is simple to implement and requires minimal supervision from on-site employees, Ma says, and it helped the bank fulfil its plan to open more branches, making finance more agile and inclusive.
New growth opportunities
Huawei is providing innovative IT solutions that drive new 5G, Internet of Things and Big Data to customers across the region, helping them to explore new avenues for economic development, such as business expansion and building an advanced digital economy.
Airport operator Malaysia Airports, for instance, is embarking on a network refresh project with Huawei that will make terminals 1 and 2 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport compatible with technologies such as 5G, WiFi, IoT and AI.
Upgrading the airport’s networks will allow the company to automate otherwise manual procedures such as check-in and boarding. This will help passenger flow management and reduce processing time for those boarding flights, improving the overall customer experience.
The network upgrade will also help the airport operator to slash the cost of running and maintaining its IT systems, Ma says.
Another example of how Huawei has helped to open up new opportunities for economic growth comes from the Philippines. Huawei provided local internet service provider Converge ICT Solutions with its DC OptiX 2.0 wavelength division multiplexing technology to help provide reliable, high-speed internet to data centres operating in the country, Ma says.
An increasing number of Philippine firms providing services such as programming and data recording for external organisations have significantly increased demand for data centre services. The country’s data centre market is expected to grow at a rate of 13.4 per cent annually to be worth US$635 million by 2027, according to market research firm Arizton Advisory & Intelligence.
“Through the Huawei DC OptiX 2.0 Solution, we are confident and sure that Converge will thrive more in this field to provide the Filipino market with the services they truly deserve,” says Converge’s Chief Technical Officer, Ronald Brusola.
To handle its burgeoning internet data centre traffic, Converge selected Huawei’s technology, which offers rapid internet connectivity and reduces the physical space needed for data centre operations by more than 70 per cent – a useful attribute in a crowded city such as Manila.
The data centre upgrade helped Converge to meet increasing customer demand and has supported the company’s rapid growth in recent years. In 2020, Converge nearly doubled the size of its customer base as it expanded the reach of its fibre cable network to more than 6 million homes.
Converge’s growth, in which its data centre upgrade was instrumental, helped it to secure additional funds for expansion in a stock exchange listing last October.
Technology is playing a key role in the development of sustainable cities such as Singapore, where last year the civil service set new targets to reduce carbon emissions, according to a report by The Straits Times. The targets include reducing energy and water use by 10 per cent from the previous three-year average.
To meet such targets, Singapore’s Sunseap Group, a solar energy system developer, is making efforts to boost solar energy use, including by commissioning a major offshore floating solar plant that uses Huawei’s Smart PV Solutions.
The plant’s smart inverters convert solar energy to usable electricity, making it more efficient, safer and more reliable, according to Ma. They are fully digitalised and resilient to harsh environments, including temperatures ranging from 55°C below zero to 80°C.
It is estimated that the plant can produce more than 6 million kilowatts of energy per year – enough to power 1,250 average-sized apartments. The inverters also help to offset an estimated 4,000-plus tonnes of carbon dioxide that would otherwise require a quarter of a million trees to compensate. The resilient, sustainable nature of the plant, driven by efficient technology, helps make a major contribution to Singapore’s public sector emissions targets.
Such digitalisation initiatives by government and private sector entities across Asia-Pacific can help to foster improved economic opportunities and raise the quality of life for all, Ma says. It is also crucial for public sector organisations to share views on further digital innovation and the role of IT in green and low-carbon development so that better solutions and approaches can be brought about.
To help them do so, Huawei from 19 to 21 September will be hosting Huawei Connect 2022 in Bangkok, where government officials, experts, researchers, partners and analysts across Asia-Pacific will gather to explore the future of digital innovation and sustainable development.
“In the next five to 10 years, we want to be the main contributor to the digital economy in Asia-Pacific,” Ma said in an interview during the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress 2022 held in May.
Asia-Pacific is poised to make significant progress in digital transformation, giving organisations operating in the region the impetus to explore new opportunities for economic growth and sustainable urban development. Such organisations are also themselves ready to reap the benefits of digital transformation by using cutting-edge digital infrastructure such as that provided by Huawei.