Huawei Software and Services Lays the Foundation for an Ecosystem Play

Andy Hicks, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • At Huawei’s recent analyst event, the company said that it was placing greater emphasis on building a services and software partner ecosystem.
  • Although Huawei has historically not built much of a partner ecosystem outside its local deployment and maintenance relationships, it now has several pieces in place to make more progress in the area.

At the annual Huawei Analyst Summit (HAS) in April 2021 – the second year it was conducted largely virtually – Huawei’s Software and Services leadership went into detail on its advancements and strategies for the group. Discussions touched several times on Huawei’s desire to build up its partner ecosystem, both to expand the innovation it can deliver to clients and to extend its reach to additional service provider business lines. Huawei has historically maintained a substantial ecosystem in local country network deployment and operations field forces, but its progress on building a service creation ecosystem has been less apparent. At HAS, Huawei executives made clear they understand that developing an ecosystem is vital to its goal of emphasizing software and services as a means to enhance customer loyalty and diversify its revenue stream in the wake of ongoing hardware supply chain challenges.

  • Enabling Platform In discussions during the event, Huawei services leadership designated its new General Digital Engine (GDE) – which we discuss here – as the likely future basis for its partner ecosystem enablement. GDE is the common platform for Huawei’s AUTIN (operations) and SmartCare (customer experience) platforms and is built on modern software architectural principles, including an emphasis on modularity and open APIs; this should enable easier integration with partner systems. Huawei already maintains separate instances of GDE for its managed services business and direct software sales, indicating that it should be able to support multiple partner configurations as well. AUTIN’s use of third-party development also indicates that Huawei has revenue recognition capabilities in place.
  • Partner Program Experience Other than its considerable stable of local field force partners, Huawei has historically not avidly embraced a partner ecosystem. It has, however, formed a pilot relationship that Huawei executives pointed to as a model for the future: In February 2020, the company named Malaysian IT services firm Omesti Group as an authorized system integration partner. Experience with Omesti can help Huawei refine the training, certification, joint project management, and commercial relationships necessary to build a robust partner organization.
  • Automation and Abstraction Huawei has invested heavily in AI, machine learning, common data models, and low-code development. Spread across its various products, these capabilities should enable partners to create value more quickly by identifying and integrating data sources, creating analytics and services, and rolling them out to Huawei’s telco customers.

Of course, there is more for Huawei to do. One of the trickiest parts of running a successful partner organization is leaving enough money on the table for the partners rather than taking over promising relationships and products directly. Huawei – which often preaches the benefits of a single-vendor relationship – may find it hard to trust that the value generated by a healthy ecosystem will eventually exceed the value which can be captured with direct relationships. If it can overcome that temptation, it should be able to establish a substantial partner ecosystem.

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