PARTNER CONTENT: With ICT technologies, both established and emerging, playing a key role in the digital transformation of industry and development of economies, Mobile World Live spoke to three experts in the industry about their experience and insights into this ongoing business transformation.

Importance of ICT for Digital Economy

During a webinar hosted in Huawei’s Win Win Live extended reality studio, Simon Baptist, Global Chief Economist of EIU set the scene regarding the status of the digital economy, but argued that in fact it was a “bit of a misnomer” in some ways – the digital economy was no longer a separate phenomenon from the actual economy.

Baptist explained digital really underlines every activity happening today, and any company not pursuing a digital play would eventually have to.

Going further, Baptist believes digital has moved beyond simple transformation for companies, and is increasingly leading the agenda for governments.

“In the era of the last 50 years, a lot of growth was driven by urbanization and by moving up the manufacturing value chain. Growth in the next 50 years is going to come from productivity growth that comes from the digital sector.”

Pau Castells, Head of Economic Analysis at GSMA Intelligence, concurred on the importance of living in digitised societies, particularly at a time when there is an economic crisis, stagnant growth, spiralling inflation, all of which is on the back of a global pandemic.

He explained GSMA Intelligence has looked into the impact of ICT on the growth of the digital economy for many years, and found that over the last 20 years about 10 per cent of total income growth globally “can be attributed to the role of ICT technologies and digital sectors”.

Utilising ICT to drive digital economy

When it comes to countries pioneering digitalisation, Castells explained it is his belief that such nations put the potential of infrastructure, services and innovation to the benefit of its citizens.

“There is no one size that fits all, but what we can takeaway from our experience in the last 10-15 years is that first, you need a strong ICT backbone, so infrastructure on mobile, fixed, cloud, international connections and data centres all need to be there. Without that present, there is nothing happening in the rest of the ecosystem.”

He added that you need a strong ecosystem where you can innovate and generate the content and the services for both enterprises and consumers and then encourage adoption by enterprises, consumers and government to fully exploit the opportunity.

Also speaking, Sean Liu, Director of the Consultant Office at Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, turned attention to what he called pioneering digital players, highlighting the Asia-Pacific region with rapid development.

Using leading countries in Asia-Pacific as a benchmark, Liu opened up on the importance of “connection density”, which he believes can contribute to rapid digital economy development in other regions.

He explained that connection density directly determines whether “we digitise enough production activities, objects and tools to enable more efficiency”.

“It then brings a lot of requirements of experience and SLA assurance as the digitalisation goes deeper into the production system. To meet these requirements, operators need to build ubiquitous gigabit networks, featuring deterministic experience and super automation.”

Operators need to build ubiquitous Gigabit networks, featuring deterministic experience and super automation. A digital economy needs more computing power to calculate and process data generated by each object. By this way more value is gained from data, allowing automation faster decision-making.

For Huawei, Liu explained there were many takeaways from advanced digital countries. To continue these advancements and evolve further, he pointed to the need for implementing computing diversity, noting more power was required to calculate and process data generated by each object that is connected.

“The development trend of computing power requirements has changed from centralised cloud services to distributed heterogenous computing power and application drive,” said Liu. Ubiquitous computing power requires ubiquitous network connections to maximise efficiency.”

He continued to explain that a carriers’ power network infrastructure should be integrated with computing power, to deliver services to thousands of households and industries.

“The future intelligent world needs diversified computing power just like water and electricity,” Liu concluded.

GSMA Intelligence’s Castells highlighted some of the key changes, particularly in the operator world, which was having a positive impact on the development of the digital economy.

Another key shift in the industry, which is having a positive impact not only on digital but the wider economy is the focus around ensuring greener, more sustainable operations. Liu said green ICT is a key factor for the sustainable development of the digital economy.

Through new technologies, ICT players are not only reducing emissions in its own industry, but other industries as well “by almost 10 times as much as the emissions generated by the ICT industry itself.

“So that’s why we say that the connection density multiplied by the computing diversity and the carbon emission reduction intensity reflects the vitality of the digital economy.”

The future

Looking to the future, Liu believes the smart world and the applications in use in 2025 or even 2030 will mean even more pressure and higher requirements on ICT infrastructure.

Going forward, Liu stated the digital economy account for just over half of global GDP by 2025 and various industries would at that point have accumulated some experience and scale in their digitisation efforts.

“It is urgent for them to expand such efforts from supporting systems to production systems for sustainability and higher production efficiency. Explosive growth of these requirements will bring higher requirements on ICT infrastructure,” he said.

Based on these trends and the requirements, Huawei has proposed a comprehensive approach to enter the 5.5G era by adopting the latest ICT technologies such as 5.5G, F5.5G, Net5.5G, and 5.5GC in energy-efficient sustainable and autonomous networks.