Huawei, a leading global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, has seen its enterprise business division continue to grow rapidly in the Middle East.
During the first three quarters of this year, Huawei’s global revenues increased by 24.4% year-on-year. By the end of Q3 2019, more than 700 cities, 228 Fortune Global 500 companies and 58 Fortune Global 100 companies had selected Huawei as their partner for Digital Transformation.
More specifically, Huawei’s Enterprise Networking division provides organisations with solutions tailored specifically to scenarios such as campus, data centre, WAN, branch interconnection and network security, helping them stride towards a fully connected, intelligent world.
In an exclusive interview, Intelligent CIO spoke to Alaa Elshimy, Managing Director, Enterprise Business Group, Middle East, Huawei, about the company’s performance and its approach to the region, and more specifically the potential of IoT in industries such as oil and gas.
Could you give us some more examples about how AI and IoT will benefit the oil and gas industries?
AI can do things that we cannot do as humans. For instance, if you need to monitor a flare at an oil refinery, sending someone to do this in tough weather conditions, or even in normal conditions, is very risky, very expensive and time consuming.
Instead, if you use a drone with an intensive camera that is trained to monitor the colour and smell of the flare then this is saving a lot of money and giving a lot of benefits to the organisation.
We have seen a lot of intrusion happening, especially in this part of the world, to pipelines. If you lay a smart cable with Machine Learning next to the pipeline and it has cameras it will be able to detect any intrusion and any leakage with an accuracy of five metres.
There are a lot of applications that can benefit different organisations, depending on the industry, and there are a lot to come because you have created the foundation and the infrastructure.
I believe in the future we will have many more applications and that will change our lives.
Are there any specific examples you can give?
If you have a pump in the oilfield and the average temperature of one of these pumps should be 40 degrees, and all of a sudden it goes to 50 degrees, this is a signal that this pump is going to fail. An AI solution will send you a report that this pump is going to fail so you need to do the right proactive maintenance for this pump or order a new one or immediately replace it. Otherwise it goes down.
So with AI, operation and maintenance costs will go down and availability for businesses will go up. You have a number of applications for different industries. This is the foundation of the Digital Transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution and this cannot happen without 5G and AI.
What will the impact of 5G and IoT be beyond telecommunications?
We’ve been talking about autonomous cars for years but we couldn’t implement it, because of the relatively high latency of the 4G or 3G. Now when we bring 5G into play because of the very low latency we can implement a technology like autonomous cars.
With autonomous cars cameras need to detect the different objects and avoid them and decide what actions to take. So you have Edge Computing in the car itself. In the past, we weren’t able to do this because we didn’t have the intelligence in the car.
You previously needed to capture the video, send it to the command and control centre or your data centre, process it and then send the information back to the car so it could make its decisions. Today you don’t need to do that. You have enough intelligence in the car because of Edge Computing and the AI chipset integrated into it.
And then the car can take the decision on the spot in the car itself, thanks to the technology. So AI and 5G are two key enablers for the transformation of this industry.
What can you tell us about Huawei’s performance in the last year?
If we look at our performance in the first half of the year, we achieved $59 billion globally. This is a 23% year over year growth.
Can you tell us about the company’s 5G operations in the Middle East in the last 12 months?
In Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and across the region we have signed with all the main operators, which is a very good success for us. We continue to be the leader in this area. Now we’re working with them also to expand on this business. Most of these operators have already launched their services commercially this year and the plan is to continue to expand that.
The growth of your company over the past few years has been remarkable. What have been the major reasons for that?
One major differentiator is our investment in R&D. Last year we invested US$15.3 billion. This year we are planning to invest US$18 billion. These are huge numbers. This is maybe bigger than the total profit of some of the competition.
And the objective, of course, is to bring new technology to help transform the industry to the benefit of the enterprises and the consumer business.
In terms of your individual customers do their requirements change a lot?
We are living in a world that’s transforming very fast and one of the key drivers is technology. For instance, the UAE appointed the first Minister of AI and then you start to see other AI ministers appointed in other Middle Eastern countries and across the globe.
So things are changing in the world because of the involvement of technology and because we are becoming more demanding as individuals. That’s creating more challenges but also creating new opportunities and more opportunities.
We believe at Huawei that we have introduced two key technologies, that’s 5G and AI, that’s contributing a lot to this transformation journey.