Shunning overseas technologies will see Australia overtaken: Huawei

John Lord, chairman of Huawei Australia, believes Australia will lose its competitive advantage if it does not embrace the technologies that are emerging from overseas.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

With so much focus on Australia's ability -- or inability -- to innovate, Huawei Australia chairman, John Lord, has suggested the way forward is to maximise the technologies available from global players.

"For us in Australia we must embrace and maximise the opportunities of the new technologies. We are a small country; we consider we are a smart country, but that's only so while we are at the front -- at the bleeding edge -- of the innovation and technology," Lord said.

"Australia is being caught up to."

Lord said that in 2014, two-thirds of the world's middle class lived in Europe and the US, estimating that in 2025, more than 50 percent of the world's middle class will reside instead in Asia.

"In the future we must accept technologies from all companies from all countries if we are to stay in the lead and take the maximum advantage of opportunities because if our competitiveness drops we will lose out in supplying these new markets," he added.

Speaking at Huawei's own ICT Roadshow in Sydney, Lord said the Chinese company's current focus is no longer about the "wow factor" of technologies and innovation that it brings to Australia, but instead about taking action on the technologies themselves.

"Applying the technologies that are now available, building frameworks for those that are coming, and putting in place effective business solutions for industries and our environment which includes our cities," Lord said.

"The future lies in maximising these technological advancements first: Big Data, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and preparing for 5G when it arrives in the future."

He mentioned there is a need from an enterprise perspective as well to progressively apply new technologies as they become available, such as those involved in a smart city project, noting that there is no one solution for a smart city.

"The move forward is more evolutionary than revolutionary."

Huawei recently announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with General Electric (GE), which will see them partner on application development for the Industrial IoT.

At the time, Huawei's chief strategy marketing officer William Xu said the next decade would be critical for the transition into the digital economy.

"Industry digitisation will require connectivity among a huge number of devices, big data computing, and smart applications. No single company can address all these challenges on its own. Companies need to collaborate openly with partners and integrate resources and capabilities from partners in order to contribute to customers' success."

Echoing Xu's words, Lord said on Tuesday that Huawei believes it is well placed to contribute to the future through collaboration.

The Australian government has already started looking to its neighbours in Asia for help with innovation, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singapore government in May to enhance collaboration, exchanges, and agency-to-agency innovation and science engagement between both countries.

In a bid to strengthen ties with China, the federal government also announced six new Joint Research Centres in April to address challenges both countries face in the marine science, food and agribusiness, and mining equipment technology and services sectors.

At a cost of AU$5.95 million, the six virtual centres will be funded for three years under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund, which supports strategic science, technology, and innovation collaboration considered of mutual benefit to both countries.

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