The rapid development of the industrial internet has provided many tools and opportunities for small and medium-sized firms, which can better utilize digitalization to create greater value via platform enterprises.
Xu Haoliang, undersecretary-general and associate administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, made the remarks in his address via a pre-recorded video to the 2023 China International Digital Economy Expo that opened in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, on Wednesday.
The three-day expo is themed "Empowering Various Businesses with Industrial Internet, Leading High-Quality Development with Digital Economy".
The industrial internet is the application and development of new-generation information in the industrial sector that provides a viable path for the digital transformation of industries, said Shen Pei, general manager of HBIS Digital Technology Co, operator of the industrial internet platform WeShyper.
A list of cross-industry and cross-field industrial internet platforms was released during the expo's opening ceremony by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, including WeShyper by HBIS and OnePower by China Mobile.
"The industrial internet can connect a company with an industrial chain, or even with an entire region's upstream and downstream sectors, to build a larger platform, leveraging capabilities such as e-commerce, logistics and finance," Shen said during the expo, adding that it is an important foundation and pillar for industries' digital transformation.
For example, WeShyper takes the steel industry as its focus, creating common applications and services in varying sections including production, energy, environmental protection, sales and logistics, according to the platform's Strategy Director Hao Liang.
It gradually builds an industrial innovation foundation, targeting the steel industry chain and providing digital transformation services for the chemical industry and other industries upstream, as well as to the automotive and home appliances industries downstream, Hao said.
"Key technologies of the industrial internet will tend to become more open and ecological. Therefore, technological barriers and costs for SMEs will be reduced via open cooperation and technology sharing," Zhang Yanhua, a professor at Beijing University of Technology, said at one of the expo's forums on Tuesday.
According to a Xinhua report last month, the country's industrial internet has recorded a market scale of more than 1.2 trillion yuan ($163.8 billion).
It added that the country is currently experiencing a robust wave of digital transformation and smart manufacturing implementation. The integration of 5G technologies and the industrial internet is shaping a new era for China's digital economy.
"The digital economy is growing rapidly worldwide and expected to account for 25 percent of the global GDP in the next decade or so," Xu from the UNDP said.
The digital economy has become an important engine driving sustainable development in China, which is in the process of economic transformation, he added.