Zheng Maokuan, CAICT: Interpretation of “digitalization” and “digital transformation”

The government work report in 2021 clearly states to accelerate digital development, create new advantages in the digital economy, coordinately promote digital industrialization and industrial digital transformation, accelerate the pace of digital society construction, improve the level of digital government construction, and create a good digital ecology… 7 ” “Digital” outlines the rich connotation of building a digital China.

The major achievements in the prevention and control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic have shown the support and assistance of the digital economy. At the recently concluded National Two Sessions, “digitization” has also become one of the hot words that representatives and committee members pay attention to, and put forward relevant suggestions and proposals on accelerating the development of the digital economy, strengthening the construction of digital infrastructure, and improving digital governance capabilities.

In the wave of digitalization, both government departments and enterprises are exploring the path of transformation. The first thing to think about is: what exactly is digitization? What new possibilities does digitalization bring to future life? How to seize the opportunity of digital development?

Dr. Zheng Maokuan, an expert from the East China Branch of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (hereinafter referred to as “CAICT”), shared his insights on the above issues.


Zheng Maokuan

Director of Digital Economy Research Department, East China Branch of CAICT

  Q: During the two sessions, “digitization” became a high-frequency word in local government work reports and development plans. How to understand “digitization” and “digital transformation”?

Zheng Maokuan: The “digitization” I understand means that in the current fourth industrial revolution, due to the rapid development of new-generation information technologies such as big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, etc., it has revolutionized the dynamic reshaping of production factors, productivity and production relations. process. For example, data has become a new factor of production, cloud-side-end integrated computing power and artificial intelligence algorithms have created new productivity, and new production relations such as e-commerce, live streaming, and sharing economy are constantly emerging.

And “digital transformation” refers to the process of using “digital” ideas to achieve innovation breakthroughs or kinetic energy conversion in certain vertical industries, sub-fields, and operating entities, such as the digital transformation of manufacturing, the application of digital technology to promote industrial manufacturing quality improvement Cost reduction and efficiency enhancement and model innovation; digital transformation of community management, application of technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, and artificial intelligence to improve the intelligence and refinement of community governance.

  Q: Digital transformation is one of the main directions of Shanghai’s economic and social development during the 14th Five-Year Plan. What trends do you think will be in digital transformation in the next five years? What changes will digital transformation bring to urban life and industrial development?

Zheng Maokuan: The Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government announced the “Opinions on Comprehensively Promoting the Digital Transformation of Shanghai City” at the end of last year. This document has carried out a systematic top-level architecture design for the digital transformation of the city in the next five years, and also compared the future development trends. In-depth interpretation, that is, three aspects, one is the overall transformation, promoting the comprehensive digital transformation of “economy, life, and governance”; the second is all-round empowerment, building the basic framework of a data-driven digital city; the third is revolutionary remodeling, Guide the whole society to jointly build, govern and share a digital city.

Externally, we have been emphasizing that “digitalization” is only a tool and means, and “digital transformation” is not the ultimate goal. If you want to ask what changes digital transformation will bring to urban life and industrial development, the core is to promote urban development through digital transformation. The high-efficiency operation of the industry, the high-quality development of the industry, and the high-quality life of the people are also the ultimate value embodiment of digital transformation.

  Q: As far as the first-tier cities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are concerned, what challenges are facing the digital transformation of cities? What difficulties are there in the process of advancement?

Zheng Maokuan: Judging from the current situation of promoting digital transformation in first-tier cities, there are some common challenges and difficulties:

First, the institutional system is not yet perfect. “Data elements” have become an important factor of production in the current digital transformation process. However, there are no systematic and authoritative laws, regulations or institutional documents in China in terms of data development and utilization, data transactions, data protection, and data ethics. The institutional system of China is not very applicable in China, and “no rules to follow” has become an important issue that restricts the innovation vitality of relevant entities in the process of digital transformation.

Second, the transformation path is still unclear. For different industries, different fields, and different entities, digital transformation has different paths, and the degree of personalization is extremely high. At present, there are problems such as large investment and insignificant output benefits. Generally speaking, it is because of the underlying logic of digital transformation. The lack of thorough research on and basic theories has led to the fact that most digital transformation work is taking the path of “trial and error”, and the success rate and efficiency are low.

Third, compound talents are extremely lacking. At present, the development of digital technology is rapid, there are many branches, and the replacement is very fast. At the same time, the knowledge system in the vertical fields undergoing digital transformation is very deep, and there is a huge shortage of compound talents with both ICT capabilities and OT qualities. Moreover, the current discipline systems of scientific research institutes in universities and the business systems of enterprises are in line with the current approach to cultivating digital compound talents. Requirements vary widely.

Q: Regarding the difficulties and challenges in the digital transformation of the above cities, please briefly talk about your suggestions?

Zheng Maokuan: Regarding the difficulties and challenges in the digital transformation of cities, my suggestions are: First, strengthen the system supply that meets the needs of the digital age, accelerate the promotion of data legislation, form a number of digital rules, and strengthen data security and personal privacy protection. The second is to adhere to government guidance and market leadership, encourage enterprises to explore digital transformation paths based on their own actual conditions, and avoid digitization for the sake of digitization. The third is to strengthen the connection between production, education, research and application, and cultivate a group of digital talents who understand both technology and industry in the practice of industrial digital transformation.

 Q: In the face of the wave of digital transformation, what role will the East China Branch of CAICT play, and how will it help the digital transformation of cities?

Zheng Maokuan: In the wave of digital transformation, the East China Branch of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, adhering to the concept of “National High-end Professional Think Tank, Industrial Innovation and Development Platform” of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, will deeply participate in all aspects of digital transformation in Shanghai and even the Yangtze River Delta region.

The first is to do basic research and policy support to provide theoretical guidance and constructive suggestions for digital transformation in regions and fields, such as conducting research on digital transformation paths in vertical fields, and supporting the preparation of government informatization development planning documents at all levels.

The second is to promote industrial cooperation and implementation practices, relying on the resource integration capabilities of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, and industry associations, leading enterprises, small and medium-sized innovative enterprises, etc., to promote the cultivation of industrial ecology for digital transformation in subdivided fields, and to promote actual implementation through benchmarking projects. Practice to form a replicable and generalizable method path and experience.

At present, the East China Branch of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology has fully participated in the process of Shanghai’s urban digital transformation, providing professional support for the top-level design of the digital transformation of urban and two-level governments, and providing digital transformation planning and management services for enterprises, helping to achieve more results. , to accelerate the digital transformation of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region.


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