Exclusive: The impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector - Huawei Q & A
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Exclusive: The impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector - Huawei Q & A

Exclusive: The impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector - Huawei Q & A

AMEinfo has conducted a series of interviews with notable regional and international tech companies of different sizes. In this article, we speak with Huawei Middle East.

  • Headquartered in China, where life has returned to normal for the most part, Huawei "have fully resumed all production activities"
  • "In light of the current situation, people around the world are spending a lot of time shopping, gaming, and having meetings online. This has caused a dramatic increase in network traffic, and presents huge challenges in terms of network stability and security."
  • Huawei is providing network services for more than 170 countries and regions, "working closely with customers and local governments to ensure networks remain stable and secure."

Today, no business has been spared the backlash from the global Coronavirus pandemic. Entire industries have been brought to heel - massive industries like the hospitality sector, travel sector and even the oil sector.

So, in an effort to try and assess the situation across the affected sectors and businesses, AMEinfo has conducted a series of interviews with notable regional and international tech companies of different sizes. In this article, we speak with Huawei Middle East.

Make sure to click on the #COVID19Tech tag to access all the articles in this series.

Q & A with Charles Yang, President, Huawei ME

How has the pandemic and remote working affected your daily operations in terms of sales, supply chain, workforce, and/or contracts?Charles Yang, President, Huawei ME

Like all companies, Huawei is coping with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. While ensuring the safety of our employees, we will spare no effort in responding quickly and effectively to today’s challenges, maintaining and strengthening our customers' communications networks. 

As of today, we have fully resumed all production activities in China, so in the short term, we can continue supplying our customers and partners around the world.

But as COVID-19 continues to spread, we may see lasting global effects for some time. Our supply chain department is providing daily updates about how our suppliers around the globe have been doing, so that our company can do everything we can to help partners along the supply chain combat the pandemic and continue production. We can't say for sure how the pandemic will evolve. If the measures being taken to combat the virus are not effective, it is possible that some of our suppliers won't be able to continue supplying us. In this case, we will face challenges to our supply continuity. We definitely don't want to see this happen and we will work hard to ensure our supply continuity.

On a financial front, the outbreak has caused the company to lower its financial targets for the year. Smartphone sales are falling outside of China, for example, although the decline has been offset by strong domestic sales. However, while the pandemic has had an impact on Huawei’s sales in the first quarter of 2020, the outbreak could also lead to increased demand for ICT products amidst a boost in network usage as more people work and meet remotely. There is a possibility of accelerated demand in network rollouts, so it is a concern that we might not have enough capacity to supply.

What has the company's experience with remote working been like so far?

During this global pandemic, the safety of every one of our employees has been our top priority. Ever since the first signs of an outbreak in China, Huawei has taken an active approach to ensure the safety of our workplaces. This has included deploying prevention measures across our campuses, implementing a daily employee health check system, and procuring protective materials. 

We at Huawei, having 194,000 employees, already have provided the necessary processes to maintain and keep collaboration going and our services on track. We have put in place many practices for online meeting and work, using our own products and solutions such as video conferencing, welink, espace among others.

Read: Huawei releases its 2019 Annual Report, records $9 billion net profit

What are your short-to-midterm plans to address issues arising due to the global lockdown?

Our priority right now is helping customers and governments around the world fight the pandemic while guaranteeing the health and safety of our employees. 

In light of the current situation, people around the world are spending a lot of time shopping, gaming, and having meetings online. This has caused a dramatic increase in network traffic, and presents huge challenges in terms of network stability and security. Huawei is providing network services for more than 170 countries and regions. We have been working closely with our customers and local governments to ensure networks remain stable and secure. We are doing what we can to help meet the rapidly growing demand for networks.

We are working closely with schools and universities to provide the necessary tools and network infrastructure to support distance learning. 

In markets like Saudi Arabia, Huawei has joined “Kolluna Attaa” program, a new charity initiative being sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). Our contribution will provide students who cannot afford to have digital services with smart tablets for them to access to online education platforms.

Globally, Huawei is providing the necessary ICT solutions to help governments combat COVID-19, mainly through three key technologies, 5G, AI, and Cloud.

What will the long-term impact of the pandemic be on your company and your sector?

As COVID-19 continues to spread, we may see lasting global effects for some time. Our supply chain department is providing daily updates about how our suppliers around the globe have been doing, so that our company can do everything we can to help partners along the supply chain combat the pandemic and continue production. We can't say for sure how the pandemic will evolve. If the measures being taken to combat the virus are not effective, it is possible that some of our suppliers won't be able to continue supplying us. In this case, we will face challenges to our supply continuity. We definitely don't want to see this happen and we will work hard to ensure our supply continuity.

As of today, we have fully resumed all production activities in China, so in the short term, we can continue supplying our customers and partners around the world.

We sincerely hope that this pandemic will come to an end soon. In the meantime, we will continue to leverage the power of 5G, AI, cloud computing, and other technologies to proactively support the fight against COVID-19. As I mentioned, over the course of 2020, we actually expect to see an increased demand for ICT products amidst a boost in network usage, as more people work and meet remotely. 

Read: Huawei enters top 10 list of most valuable brands for the first time

Looking at a future after the pandemic, what are your essential takeaways from the crisis and how will they reshape your business/operating model going forward?

With the COVID-19 pandemic widespread across the world, ICT infrastructure has become a fundamental and essential lifeline for all countries. ICT infrastructure has emerged as the most reliable pillar for societies, and a vital component to address the increasing requirements of healthcare networks worldwide. ICT infrastructure and services are now a fundamental enabler of economic activity, social interaction, and developmental interventions. Therefore, the ICT sector’s first priority now is to take responsibility to combat and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

As our Rotating Chairman recently noted in our 2019 financial performance review, we appreciate that the external environment will only get more complicated going forward. With that in mind, we feel the key to sustainable growth is to keep enhancing the competitiveness of our products and services each and every day. We must continue to promote open innovation with partners in the Middle East and beyond, even in this current environment. We must also find ways to create even greater value for our customers and society at large as they deal with the repercussions of the pandemic—whether that is in government, healthcare, education, or elsewhere.

Huawei believes in the power of dissolving boundaries and working together to build an open Collaboration that thrives on shared success. By advancing the development of the digital world – and by extension, an intelligent world – we can bring the benefits of digital life to everyone.

We should accelerate this vision by increasing knowledge transfer, building stronger ecosystems, and developing ICT in a truly responsible manner.

Read: Huawei Exclusive: Confronting the Myths of ICT Industry Subsidies

Author
Mark Anthony Karam

Mark Anthony Karam was an Editor at AMEinfo between 2018-2021. You can get in touch with him on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/in/m-a-karam/

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