In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, May Li, VP of solution marketing, Huawei, shared four significant changes that influence current technological trends, her views on the importance of ICT for future generations, and Huawei’s sustainability strategies as well as its current solution marketing presence in the region.
With almost three decades working in telecom, what are the most significant changes you observed that influence current trends like 5G, IoT, and AI?
There are four significant changes I observed in the last 30 years - individual consumers experiences in digital services, enterprises and vertical industry demands, awareness of sustainability, and how a sudden global incident such as pandemic can change people’s mindset:
- Mobile and internet services were first introduced to normal consumers in the 90s, and people were happy with simple voice calls, plain text messages, and ‘dial-up’ internet that may give 21kbit/s if you were lucky! But, nowadays, consumer experiences demand has changed. People want more than just high-speed internet or mobile broadband that can get us connected all-time, and ensure HD or UHD quality video stream. Instead, people want to ‘participate’ in the digital world, have an ‘immersed’ ‘interactive’ experience.
- Digital transformation demands in different enterprises and vertical industry sectors also heavily influence the technology trends. Although each sector has its own digital transformation tracks, in general, the objectives of digital transformation are primarily about improving productivity and efficiency, reducing cost, providing better services to the end-users, and at the same time maintaining security and privacy.
- Increasingly, climate change and its impacts have made people and businesses more aware of sustainability. We want technology to help us with sustainable growth, and we want the technology itself to be ‘greener’ and produce less carbon.
- Pandemic has caught humanity off guard. It has enormous impacts on our lives, society and economy. However, we have seen the fast adoption of many digital technologies through disruptions. Many digital services debated for a long time with being implemented suddenly become a reality. People and businesses realized the digital transformation could happen as long as we put our minds into it!
Overall, these changes have influenced technology trends, demanding fast, secured networks with a minor and low delay that can manage massive connected devices and machines. Also, more intelligent computing capabilities help with decision-making or even making accurate decisions on our behalf.
As a woman holding a leadership position in the telecom industry, how can you continue driving innovation and sharing your passion for technology’s impact on humanity?
I have never seen being a woman in ICT as a disadvantage. It is a hard crafting process for any tech engineers and leaders, male or female, to make progress in the ICT areas.
Being innovative is always an essential skill working in a tech company. You have to be brave to innovate, courage to speak out your idea, and communicate it well. It also requires an organization to foster a healthy innovation environment. Fortunately, my employer Huawei has an excellent innovation environment. We have dedicated teams and invested heavily in innovation; being innovative in day-to-day work is encouraged and rewarded. We have created platforms to share, communicate, and collaboratively develop ideas, regardless of your position, job roles, and background. I’d be happy to work with my teams and partners to create innovative solutions to improve digital inclusion in society, enrich people’s lives, and help the business grow.
In addition, I would like to use all possible opportunities to inspire the younger generation, particularly young girls, to participate in technology innovation. They are the future, and to have a better future, they need to continue innovating in technology.
As an advocate of building smart and sustainable solutions, what is the importance of ICT technology adoption for future generations?
There is no doubt that future generations must adopt ICT technology. ICT technology plays a crucial role in the future generation's rise to prominence. It helps them mobilize, collaborate, and give them a voice where there was none before. It brings them together in response to social concerns. It connects them across vast geopolitical barriers.
For young people, access to information means better access to capital, markets and training needed to pursue a career or studies, increased participation in political processes and recognition of youth as responsible citizens in today's society. Youth entrepreneurship, facilitated by access to technology, the internet, and information, is quickly positioned as a solution for youth employment. Many young people are rising to the challenge by pioneering ICT use and driving trends in a dynamic and significant growth industry. Governments, civil society and ICT leaders like Huawei can do more to inspire future generations to adopt ICT and change their world for the better.
In the Middle East region, Huawei committed to cultivating and encouraging future generations in adopting ICT. Our yearly 'Seeds for future' programmes have hosted hundreds of inspiring young students. Thousands of students have participated in our ICT online training programmes. In addition, we support several ICT academies in different countries.
Huawei has a strong commitment to sustainability. What are the key strategies to fulfill this alongside continuous tech development?
Huawei's vision and mission is to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. We believe that ICT can support global economic development while improving people's lives. Huawei actively aligned its sustainability efforts with the UN sustainable development goals (UN SDGs) as it continued to focus on its own four sustainability strategies, digital inclusion, security and trustworthiness, environmental protection, and healthy and harmonious ecosystem:
- Leaving no one behind in the digital world: Huawei launched its TECH4ALL initiative to promote digital inclusion for all. We focus on equity in education and conservation of nature, and are making technology more inclusive by investing in technology, applications, and skills. The goal of the initiative is to bring digital technology to every person, home, and organization.
- Taking responsibility to build trust: Cyber security and privacy protection are our top priorities, and we continue to invest and remain transparent in both areas. We have worked to improve our software engineering capabilities and practices, build resilient networks, develop trustworthy and high-quality products, and support stable network operations and business continuity.
- Contributing to an efficient, low-carbon, and circular economy: We are committed to minimizing our environmental impact in manufacturing, operations, and over the entire lifecycles of our products and services. Huawei's innovative products and solutions help industries reduce their energy consumption and emissions, and contribute to the circular economy. We actively work with all our industry partners to shrink our carbon footprint.
- Collaborating for the common good: We operate with integrity and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and continue to enhance sustainability risk management. We work to ensure that our employees can develop and realize their personal value. We conduct due diligence on our global supply chain to ensure its sustainability. We actively contribute to the communities we operate in. We also work with all industry partners to build a healthy and harmonious business ecosystem.
What is the value of solution marketing in telecom and how do Huawei’s products and services respond to it?
Interestingly, my friend asked me a similar question about my position in marketing. As usually, marketing is mostly about brand and product promotion, which require people to improve or maintain brand image and make a product more attractive to end-users. How do we market a solution?
In the old days, our clients were mainly from the telecom sector. We spoke the same 'langue', shared the same tech 'jargon' and understood each other's business dynamics. Therefore, we could discuss our product and solution using a straightforward telecom tech language. However, as the telecom sector is transforming and expanding its business segments, we face more diverse clients from different enterprise and industry sectors. As a result, we often don't share the same vocabulary or fully understand each sector's business dynamics. Therefore, we need experts who understand the business dynamics of the buyer in their industry and market the telecom ICT solutions values that can help industry sectors achieve their digital transformation objectives.
Huawei has long recognized the importance of solution marketing. As a result, we have a robust solution marketing presence in the region with experts from ICT and many industry sectors. We have also simplified our product and service lines to meet digital transformation demands from telco, enterprise, and different industry vertical sectors.