Just add digital?

Europe has all the ingredients for a smooth transition towards the connected age – now it needs to get the mixture right, argues Tony Graziano.

 Tony Graziano | Photo credit: Huawei

By Tony Graziano

06 Jun 2017

5G networks are expected to become operational by 2020, just three years away.

They will enable connections between 30 billion or more devices, providing the infrastructure for the all-encompassing Internet of Things.

This new level of connectivity, and the vertical industry digitisation associated with it, will generate markets worth trillions of euros.


But, to achieve full digital transformation across all sectors of the economy, and indeed society, several actions need to be taken now in Europe:

Firstly, the regulatory regime needs to be relaxed to promote digital infrastructure investment. Secondly, the digital transformation of industry needs to be speeded up through a collaborative and open ecosystem. And thirdly, It is vital that digital skills are improved in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and among European citizens in general.

A favourable regulatory environment is needed to leverage funds for investment and foster innovation.

Europe has already taken encouraging steps to put in place regulation that can deliver digital transformation. Its Digital Single Market plan creates a framework in which this process can unfold, and important initiatives to implement it have been taken since its adoption.

The proposals for a comprehensive reform of the European telecommunications markets and the 5G for Europe Action Plan adopted last September were warmly welcomed.

If Europe gets it right, it can lead the digital transformation of industry and come out stronger, more prosperous and more connected.

But to make a success story out of what is effectively a new industrial revolution, it must draw on the strengths of its home-grown industrial base.

A good example to follow is the EU’s successful car industry, which is creating synergies with the ICT industry, for instance through the creation of Europe’s very first Automotive-Telecom Alliance, announced in September 2016.

The development of skills needs to be made a priority. Decision-makers must ensure that curricula are adapted to equip younger generations with ICT skills.

"If Europe gets it right, it can lead the digital transformation of industry and come out stronger, more prosperous and more connected"

Cooperation between the public and the private side is essential: companies can give a leg-up to young people by providing them with hands-on experience in ICT-driven working environments.

Huawei is putting this in practice, for instance through its Seeds for the Future training scheme, which is our contribution to the European Pact for Youth. This ICT talent programme selects gifted students for a study trip to China.

We are committed to supporting Europe’s successful transition towards the digital age.

By maintaining a high level of investment in Europe and joining forces with customers, industry partners and public authorities, we can help achieve sustainable growth across sectoral and geographical boundaries.

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