The wave of digital economy in China has led to an increase in the proportion of domestic industrial digitalization from 77% in 2016 to 81.5% in 2021. This highlights the growing consensus that digital transformation is indispensable for high-quality development of enterprises. However, compared with developed countries such as Germany where the proportion of industrial digitalization is as high as 91.3%, China has significant room for growth and presents great market prospects.
In addition to the great development opportunities, China's industrial digitalization also faces huge challenges.
The first challenge is related to the understanding of digitalization and systematic top-level design. When enterprises are confronted with a large number of emerging technologies and production system innovations that differ from the legacy production processes, they have different perceptions of how to build digitalization and form a digital economy. This makes it difficult to form a systematic construction idea and top-level design.
The second challenge is to connect data silos. Enterprise digitalization requires solving the problem of data and capacity interoperability among multiple traditional isolated systems, and ensuring the long-term coexistence of the old information system with the new system during the transformation process. This makes it more difficult to support the inherently complicated reconstruction of enterprise information systems.
The third challenge comes from the ever-changing application requirements and inefficient development process. As we know, enterprise digitalization requires the development of a large number of new applications. The traditional development mode relies on professional software engineers, which are costly and time-
consuming. It is hard to adapt to the changing business needs.
The fourth challenge is using new technologies and insufficient personnel capabilities. The rapidly evolving technologies have brought technical barriers to the digital transformation of enterprises. Cloud, big data, AI, blockchain, and other digital technologies are becoming more and more complex, which require a large amount of manpower and resources to master them. This further increases the difficulty of enterprise application development and the potential cost of exploring these technologies.
Digital Nebula Solution
ZTE has developed the Digital Nebula solution which is based on its accumulated experience in digital transformation and exploration in large enterprises, typical vertical industries, and complex urban governance. As shown in Fig. 1, the solution is based on the cloud network technology and provides a complete set of tools and specifications that facilitate the digital transformation of enterprises. It also provides a systematic approach to the system architecture and evolution direction, serving as a reference for enterprises looking to embark on this journey. To be specific, the solution consists of four modules as follows:
The Enabler integrates the technical capabilities of ZTE and its partners, including big data, AI algorithm models, XR engine, blockchain, and other industry leading technologies. It is designed to be open to enterprise application developers through standardized and easy-to-use interfaces, reducing the technical barriers and R&D costs of digital transformation, ultimately helping all industries achieve digital transformation.
The InOne is a digital bus that enables the convergence and opening of different types of digital assets such as data, capabilities and messages. It helps customers break through the information silos within the enterprise, realize the intercommunication between IT and OT, and between new and old application systems. It also realizes the convergence of IoT data and the entry of all kinds of application data into the data lake.
The Studio is a tool platform and R&D environment that improves development efficiency. It not only provides professional developers with a one-stop DevOps toolchain to improve development and O&M efficiency from the perspective of management, but also provides a variety of low-code development tools to upgrade ordinary business personnel to developers. This allows those who know more about requirements to rapidly develop enterprise applications by themselves and accelerate business innovations.
The Market provides enterprises with a unified portal for one-stop browsing, application, approval and activation of digital assets. It can achieve the largest range of controlled transactions with convenience and digital asset reuse within the company and among associated enterprises, improving the efficiency of resources utilization for enterprises.
Enterprise digital transformation empowered by Digital Nebula can be characterized by four aspects: more, faster, better and more economical.
"More" refers to the extensive capabilities and partnerships of Digital Nebula. The Digital Nebula Enabler provides comprehensive ICT technology, and InOne supports the access of thousands of industrial terminals. With an ecosystem of more than 500 partners, the Digital Nebula can integrate the technical capabilities of all its partners to fully assist customers in their digital transformation.
"Faster" refers to the ability of Digital Nebula Studio to help customers and partners develop applications and realize agile business innovations in a prompt way. Enablers provides out-of-the-box technical components to help developers solve technical problems and shorten the time for launching new technologies.
"Better" refers to Digital Nebula's excellent performance, intelligence and security. In 2021, ZTE was the first to be certified as the "trusted digital service provider" by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and in May 2022, it was the first to pass the "assessment of the enterprise intelligent operation service capability" by MIIT. Digital Nebula has also obtained a number of authoritative certifications, and achieved global capabilities that are intelligent, predictable, safe, autonomous and controllable.
"More economic" refers to the ability of Digital Nebula to help enterprises reuse assets and save costs. The Digital Nebula Enabler realizes the sharing of basic capabilities, saving investment in technical development. InOne effectively supports the use of existing and new systems within the enterprise, saving the reconstruction costs. Market enables the sharing of various digital assets such as data and capability components both within and outside the enterprise, leading to cost savings in many aspects.
ZTE has leveraged Digital Nebula to explore hundreds of innovative applications in various industries, such as steel metallurgy, transportation, mining, and digital cities. One of its remarkable achievements is at the Nanjing Binjiang Factory where ZTE has implemented data collection and control of the production line, AI quality detection, intelligent warehousing, and AGV transfer using the 5G network and Digital Nebula. The factory has also achieved intelligent security, energy consumption optimization, convenient passage, safe production in the park, and the digital twin of the whole park, which sets an industry benchmark.
Furthermore, in the industrial sector, ZTE has worked with Gree Electric (Zhengzhou) to build a 5G+MEC smart factory, and supported JA Solar in their photovoltaic manufacturing upgrade. These projects have won many honors such as the WSIS Champion Award, the first prize of the "Bloom Cup" 5G Application Competition hosted by the MIIT, and the Top 10 5G Application Cases of the World 5G Convention.
In the mining industry, ZTE provides an integrated smart mine solution based on Digital Nebula to top mine customers including Yankuang Group Co.,Ltd, China Pingmei Shenma Holding Group Co., Ltd, and Shaanxi Zhongmei New Energy Co., Ltd to improve safety and efficiency in production.
In the field of digital government and smart city, ZTE has provided government customers with safe and efficient digital solutions such as urban digital twins, community intelligence and unified network management based on Digital Nebula.
ZTE also provides consulting services for large enterprises such as CITIC Haizhi and Nanjing Port Group utilizing Digital Nebula and its digital transformation methodology.
Moving forward, ZTE will continue to collaborate with its partners to drive digital transformation and high-quality development across various industries based on the Digital Nebula platform.