Digital Transformation of Chinese Industries: A Digital Talent Perspective

Digital Transformation of Chinese Industries

It is no secret that digitization has become one of the main arteries powering the pulse of the global economy and also a strong driver behind the ongoing, comprehensive transformation of China's economy. These developments are especially clear when one takes a structural perspective, and even a quick look shows that China’s digital transformation has already begun to shift from the consumer side to the supply side. China already ranks first in the world in both e-commerce and mobile payment, and it continues to lead the way in transforming and upgrading the structure of the global economy. And in the future, following the continued digitization of both heavy industry and other traditional sectors, the digital economy is poised to further transform various facets of production, service and urban governance, as well as reconstruct supply-side industrial ecology altogether.

In light of these trends, LinkedIn China has joined Tsinghua SEM Center for Internet Development and Governance (CIDG), in publishing “Digital Transformation of Chinese Industries: A Digital Talent Perspective Report”, which analyzes digital talent flows and development trends to examine the history of China’s digital transformation, and to uncover the future opportunities that lie within.

The report is based upon information drawn from approximately 910,000 of LinkedIn’s 48 million members in China, the likes of whom met the qualifications necessary to be called “digital talent” and also an extensive analysis on cutting-edge digital talents (those working on AI, Block Chain, Cloud Computing, and Data Science, also known as "ABCD talents”). Here are some of the key findings from the report:

Software and IT services and manufacturing have emerged as the two industries with the largest shares of digital talents. At the same time, digital talent has started to congregate in areas such as consumer goods, finance, education, and corporate services, thus helping these more traditional industries lay the foundation for further digital transformation.

Digital talent from ICT continues to penetrate other industries, serving as a catalyst for the composite growth of the integrated digital economy. Other industries – especially when compared with software and IT services – appear relatively a low attractiveness to digital talent and are currently experiencing a net outflow. This implies that the flow of digital talent from traditional industries into ICT has helped achieve an integration of traditional industry related skills and ICT skills. Meanwhile, the penetration of digital talents from software and IT services to other industries is scattered, and they mainly migrate to the major four industries of corporate services (15.48%), finance (15.47%), hardware and networking (14.27%), and manufacturing (13.04%).

Core cities exert strong pull on digital talent, Shenzhen strongest of all, Hangzhou stands out on software and IT services. Digital talent began a gradual trend towards China’s core urban areas, with the top four cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou enjoying particularly obvious growth. At the same time, the proportion of digital talent in some cities such as Nanjing, Suzhou, Dalian, and Shenyang have begun to trend downward.

Promoting the penetration of cutting-edge digital talents across industries is the key to accelerating transformation. Cutting-edge digital talents also known as ABCD talents, which are consisted of those individuals working in artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing, and data science, can be found mainly in the software and IT service industry (which houses more than 35% of ABCD talent). ABCD individuals also feature prominently in manufacturing (11% of ABCD talent) and finance (9% of ABCD talent), which rank second and third, respectively.

In China, digital talent across all industries and all cities continues to grow and develop. And now, as we look head, it is necessary to further deepen the integration of ICT with other industries, and to create more cutting-edge technologies driven by AI, big data and other new applications. Doing so will not only pave the way for the penetration of more cutting-edge digital talents into traditional industries, but also generate more momentum in the push towards comprehensive, in-depth digital transformation. 

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