We are living in the first stages of the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), where most of our industries have been transferred into the digital space as more and more devices become connected to one another.
With this connectivity comes the ability to solve problems and work towards a common goal. This is known as open collaboration, a novel kind of human enterprise enabled by communication technology that facilitates cooperative activities. Open collaboration is an essential cog in the big 4IR machine.
One of the types of open collaboration is a system of innovation or production in which different participants connect remotely to create a product or service of economic value. Simply put, this version of open collaboration is when people from different parts of the world come together to build products or services that will be available to other people.
A prime example of an open collaboration project is the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which is open to knowledgeable contributors from all over the world. Another example is Stack Overflow, a website for computer programmers. The site features computer programming questions that can be posed and answered by participants anywhere around the globe.
Companies also make use of open collaboration through open source in order to accelerate the pace of innovation and take technologies further than they can alone. This enhances their service offerings to their customers and provides an engine for growth.
Huawei is one such company that has committed to open collaboration, and has developed a “tree of collaboration” business model, which represents how different industries can contribute within an open ecosystem to maximise the end-user experience. The model embraces open-source providers, telecommunications operators, professional service companies and vertical industries that all come together to create one common product or service.
4IR is better enjoyed when most devices are linked to one another and a flow of information is enabled. One local example is Huawei’s recent collaboration with Rain, where the two companies jointly launched the first commercial 5G network in South Africa. With Huawei’s end-to-end 5G solutions, Rain was able to build the 5G network using its 3.6GHz spectrum allocation. The network provides fibre-like speeds without the installation complexities, time delays and cost of laying fibre in underserviced areas.
Apart from deploying new base stations, Huawei’s solutions enable Rain to fully leverage its existing LTE network and allocated spectrum for 5G deployment. This approach of sharing facilities and leveraging existing infrastructure will enable Rain to fully roll out the 5G network in a quick and cost-effective manner.
Collaboration between companies and app developers
Companies should also continually endeavour to make open source more accessible to their developers. New and emerging digital technologies are reshaping user expectations and changing the way most businesses are providing solutions to their customers. A lot of app developers are working toward improving the user experience for their apps as it has become a key differentiating factor. There are some apps that perform better than others and in order to develop such apps, developers may find it useful to work together as opposed to working in silos.
Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is enabling this collaboration through its recently launched Huawei Shining-Star programme. HMS incorporates Huawei’s chip, device and cloud capabilities and integrates a set of HMS core services, tools and platforms for IDE development and testing, as well as HMS apps. HMS, together with third-party apps and services on Huawei devices, forms the HMS ecosystem, an intelligent mobile Internet ecosystem. HMS provides unified access to the distribution of apps for all devices, spurring developer innovation and collaboration in the process. Globally, the company is dedicating US$1-billion to this developer growth and innovation.
Open collaboration forms partnerships that result in services and products that are in tandem with 4IR. With the Internet of things and 5G being at the centre of 4IR, it is through open collaboration that IoT and 5G can be merged to provide a desirable and seamless user experience. Moreover, open collaboration brings a sense of people trying to make something together, an attitude that is essential for us to make the most of 4IR.
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