Guo Ping, one of three rotating CEOs at the Chinese telecommunications giant, is adamant Huawei is up for the ambitious task of keeping pace with a massive explosion in mobile connections.
According to Guo, the number of connections to mobile telecommunications will top 100 billion within 10 years. "These will present the entire industry with significant opportunities," he says. "Those extra connections won't be about people talking to each other or connecting to networks.
"The world's population is seven billion people. Even if each person had more than one phone, the number would only run to a dozen or so billion connections."
Guo says the extra connections will come from the internet of Things, where industrial devices, household appliances, sensors -- and other gadgets connected to the internet -- communicate with people and with each other. The data each person with a phone uses is set to increase enormously as communications switch from voice or text to video.
"I know New Zealanders love to watch movie clips on Netflix," says Guo. "Increasingly that will be done on the mobile network.
"There will also be an increased demand for storage as users store content and connect to data-intensive applications. This storage surge will, in turn, drive new technical breakthroughs."
Guo openly responded to questions about the company's management structure and his own role as a "rotating CEO" while in New Zealand recently.
The management structure was designed by a US consulting firm.
"It's based on what birds do when they fly over the Atlantic in a v-shaped formation," explains Guo. "The lead bird keeps changing over time because if just one bird took the lead all the time it would become exhausted, maybe die. The results have been encouraging."
Huawei has three business groups: a carrier business group, an enterprise business group and a consumer business group.
"Each of these plays a role in our goal of building a better-connected world. We are the only telecommunications company with substantial investments in all three areas. The overall market continues to grow as we transition from providing person-to-person communications to the internet of Things."
Huawei has grown its footprint in New Zealand, continuing to build momentum with its recently launched enterprise business group, increasing its profile and channel partnerships and showcasing Huawei technology through a $1m partnership with the Auckland Council's thriving innovation hub GridAKL.
"We've invested a million dollars including equipment to help with innovation in Auckland. We aim to work with customers and technology partners to build applications to sit on top of the IT infrastructure we are providing," says Guo.
"We believe our IT infrastructure offerings can help New Zealand industries become more competitive.
"As the internet reaches ever-deeper into everyday life, traditional industries are seeing opportunities to transform to leverage internet technologies."
Guo points to New Zealand's prime farming sector as an area where the internet of Things will have an impact.
"There are many farms here and they need to get connected. Farmers need to connect their irrigation, market and sales systems to the internet. They need to get accurate weather forecast information. Huawei has the technical expertise to help; when we look at our competitors we feel they are not paying enough attention to New Zealand's farmers."
Other avenues for growth included the ICT industry, where the development of new services and apps, which took advantage of the country's rapidly evolving and expanding networks, could bring significant advantages.
"Huawei is just getting started in the enterprise market," says Guo. "Many of our competitors in this area are companies that turn over US$40 billion to US$50 billion. Our revenue is less than US$5 billion, so our size is just one tenth of our major competitors' size. That means we have scope to grow."
There is also plenty of room for Huawei to grow its footprint in the New Zealand consumer market. "That means investment in technology, but it also requires investment in branding and marketing. To this end we sponsor the Wellington Phoenix football club. At the moment our consumer business market share is roughly 12 per cent. I want that to grow to the point where our share matches our capability and our products. My team says it is shooting for a 40 per cent market share."
Huawei is taking steps to increase the potential for further revenue growth in New Zealand by expanding the portfolio of products on offer.
"Three years ago we only worked with the telecommunications carriers. Now we are working with a wider number of enterprises as we provide data centre solutions, vertical IT solutions for businesses and enterprise customers.
"Our expanded portfolio means we can address a larger market."
- Additional reporting: Bill Bennett
New Zealand has huge potential
David Wei says Huawei's New Zealand business is moving from a sole focus on working with carriers to expanding into vertical markets.
"It's a huge opportunity and it represents our future," says Wei, who is president of the Southern Pacific region for Huawei.
Within the region, Huawei anticipates its enterprise and consumer businesses will each grow by more than 40 per cent this year.
"We are becoming more competitive in each of these segments," says Wei. "Take smartphones. Two years ago you wouldn't see Huawei's logo on phones here in New Zealand. Today we are in retail shops, our brand is on display next to Apple."
Huawei is helping customers to make digital transformations.
Video is also playing an important role in Huawei's growth, driving developments for fixed line operators and for mobile carriers.
"Video typically needs, maybe, 10 times as much bandwidth as non-video services," Wei explains.
Thanks to the Government-sponsored ultra-fast broadband project, a project Huawei is participating in, consumers are already able to enjoy much faster, better video experiences. "We think New Zealand is already something of a leader in this area," says Wei. "We're also seeing a growth in interest in the idea of smart cities and smart nations."
In New Zealand, Huawei has continued to expand 3G and 4G networks with partners 2degrees and Spark, increasing coverage and network performance. The UFB builds with Enable Networks Ltd and Ultrafast Fibre, covering the Christchurch and Waikato regions respectively, have achieved significant coverage during 2015.