By Li Shi, President of Cloud and AI Business Group, Huawei Middle East

In 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic has brought a great impact on people's lives around the world. As a response to the impact, many enterprises are accelerating their digital transformation and maintaining business and production continuity through remote work and remote collaboration. Cloud-based collaboration software became ubiquitous during the epidemic, allowing billions of teleconferences to be held worldwide every day. Technology is critical to the survival of businesses, according to a new study by Global Data, a well-known research institution, with more than 80 percent of executives saying cloud computing and network are key to helping their businesses get through the crisis.

In fact, a perception is emerging in many industries that entrepreneurs have experienced a digital enlightenment during the epidemic. In the post- epidemic era, all industries will accelerate digital transformation, either actively or passively, to better adapt to future market challenges.

Healthcare has always been an important industry for everyone, especially this year. Cloud computing and AI technologies have been widely used by medical staffs in the fight against epidemics and vaccine development, providing great value for people's lives and health. Researchers are using cloud computing-based AI technologies to analyze vaccines in the US, Europe, and Asia, they built models based on a small amount of genomics information about viral proteins, completed a large amount of high-performance scientific computing, used high-precision algorithms to simulate virus models and human cells, and started hundreds of thousands of CPU clusters for computing within half an hour, which effectively shortened the development process of vaccines.

Generally, the early drug discovery process takes 4 to 6 years. However, AI and cloud computing can shorten the process to 1 to 2 years. One of the greatest values of AI in combining the platforms and algorithms we have made for virtual drug prediction is that it breaks some of the linear constraints in drug development today. It turns out that some very important properties can only be studied in comparative later trials, such as the solubility of a certain amount of mass production. Now, AI prediction and cloud computing help drug scientists predict molecule activity, stability, optimal crystalline shape, toxicity, and solubility at a relatively early stage, helping drug scientists use algorithms for foresight, resolve some of the 'worries' that may come up with in the future.

On the other hand, with increasingly developed communications network technologies, people can access the healthcare cloud anytime, anywhere to obtain transparent, customizable, and cost-effective healthcare solutions and evaluate healthcare outcomes. Cloud computing is helping the healthcare industry move towards value-driven and consumer-centric patient care.

Digital technologies such as cloud computing are also playing an increasingly important role in another area that is closely related to us - the energy industry. In recent years, pioneers in the energy industry have begun to leverage cloud computing and AI, coupled with capability such as mobile network technology, to drive enterprise digital transformation. According to research from IEA, the large-scale application of cloud computing and other technologies will reduce oil and gas production costs by 10% to 20% and increase global oil and gas technology recoverable reserves by 5%. At the same time, digitization can also benefit clean energy technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

From now on to 2025, the digitalization and intelligence of energy technologies will undergo significant changes. By 2025, the global digital market in the energy industry is expected to grow to US$64 billion, including cloud computing, AI, machine learning and big data.

Specifically, cloud computing will transform the energy industry from five perspectives. First, data processing. Energy enterprises will increasingly apply cloud data centers, use cloud services more widely to improve existing computing capabilities, and provide support for business activities that rely heavily on data analysis, such as geological modeling. Second, enterprise collaboration. Energy companies need to leverage cloud technology to manage a complex, regionally diverse ecosystem of partners, suppliers, subcontractors and employees. Third, production and operation. Energy companies need cloud technologies to improve their performance, increase operational agility and reduce costs to cope with the growing competition, regulation and market environment. Fourth, customer interaction. Energy enterprises need to build deeper customer relationships and brand value with the help of cloud-based customer relationship management and social media tools. Fifth, new energy development. Cloud technologies will help energy companies transform to new energy sources such as low-carbon alternatives and renewable energy.

The transport industry is also a very typical example. Under the tide of economic globalization, large cities in various countries are becoming an important part of the world’s urban system, and some international metropolises have become global productive forces, science and technology centers, educational and cultural centers and world trade centers. However, with the influx of population, large cities face more and more challenges in traffic management, which are difficult to solve by traditional means.

In many large cities around the world, traffic management departments are trying to improve the traffic conditions of cities by using various technologies, including updating intelligent traffic sensing devices to obtain clearer and more accurate traffic data. Building a unified traffic management system based on a cloud computing platform can coordinate the handling of traffic signals and emergency cases. Using multiple connection technologies, including 5G, will also optimize data connections between traffic sensing devices and the traffic management system, ensuring that massive data can be aggregated and analyzed in a timely manner. Advanced AI analysis algorithms can in turn analyze and support decision-making for congestion prediction, route analysis, and traffic signal control, then, the analysis result and decision-making suggestions could be sent to the traffic control department and frontline traffic police through the network. The integration of these new technologies effectively improves the urban transportation environment.
In addition to improving benefits for traditional industries and large-scale enterprises, emerging digital technologies such as cloud computing and AI will also provide new opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to improve operation efficiency, promote innovation, expand market and financing channels, and facilitate remote operations during the epidemic. In the Middle East, SMEs account for more than 90 % of the total size of enterprises and contribute 70 % of GDP. Helping small and medium-sized enterprises accelerate their digital transformation will bring significant benefits to local economic development.

Now, with the development of vaccines in various countries, the epidemic will gradually be effectively controlled. As businesses move from addressing COVID-19 epidemic to driving sustained business growth, they must focus on the three main areas that shape the trend this year: consumer oriented, business independence, and intelligent delivery. These trends will have a greater impact when combined, and businesses must focus on meeting social and individual needs around the globe for optimal practice.

Digital transformation is entering the next stage as “intelligence”, which is the key strategy for the future development of global cities, industries and enterprises. Research by Gartner, a leading research firm, shows that the need for business resilience has never been more intense. CIOs are trying to adapt to changing circumstances and design future-oriented businesses. This requires that the enterprise organization be sufficiently intelligent and reorganized and reformed plasticity.

The intelligent business architecture and anywhere operations mode that is implemented based on the cloud computing platform, AI, 5G, and IoT technologies is the key to future enterprise development. Only companies that take advantage of the combination of these technologies for continuous digital transformation will have the chance to be the winner of business competition over the next few years.