Three Steps to a World-Class Digital Economic Hub


Diversified, digital-forward industries are key drivers for economic growth. Cities and regions seeking to become world-class hubs in high-impact sectors such as media, entertainment, retail, and tourism must find the right technological solutions and partners. Dowson Tong, Senior Executive VP of Tencent and CEO of Tencent Cloud and Smart Industries Group, outlines how global technology companies such as Tencent, with its deep expertise in building sustainable tech ecosystems, can help. Below is an edited version of Tong’s fireside chat at LEAP 2024.

Dowson Tang joins the LEAP 2024 fireside chat with moderator Martina Fuchs about how collaborating with international tech companies can accelerate innovation and digital transformation in business and industry.

Diversification brings opportunities

The Middle East is a fast-growing economic and digital hub. Diversification efforts make it increasingly attractive for investors. In Saudi Arabia, under the government’s Vision 2030 program, once peripheral sectors now lead the country’s economic redevelopment and are booming, especially with the drive of digital transformation. This presents many opportunities in media, entertainment, gaming, tourism, retail and more.

Successful digital transformation requires partnering with innovative tech providers. With more than 20 years of experience, serving over a billion internet users through Tencent’s digital ecosystem, we are well placed to support evolving sectors worldwide. We can provide a host of next-gen solutions to digitally transform media, streaming, retail, tourism, telcos, and other emerging high-impact industries.

Multi-pronged trends power the transformation

Factors include AI, big data, and surging demand for digital convergence and immersive experiences globally. Advances in real-time engagement, digital twins, and audio/video compression are making these experiences more enjoyable and accessible. AI is the magic word we keep hearing again and again. For Tencent, we specifically focus where we can deliver value.

This includes cloud-based, AI-powered real-time communications (RTC) that can create unique digital experiences for large concerts, conferences, and esports tournaments. With RTC, any physical event can be amplified through streaming to reach millions of people.

AI-powered game development tools have revolutionized the development of video game environments. Not only does it slash the time necessary to create spectacular virtual worlds from years to weeks, but it also makes for more amazing experiences for players.

Digital avatars are changing the way we do business—in customer service, sales and marketing, virtual tour guiding, and beyond. Anyone from retailers and live streamers to tourism companies can create new ways to engage with and better support customers.

Such leaps in technological advances mean that immersive experiences will blur the lines further between real and virtual worlds, and transform the way we interact with devices, machines, and each other.

A launchpad that enhances global connectivity

Tencent is a trusted partner to businesses and a digital enabler for industries in the global digital ecosystem. We enhance cross-border connectivity and collaboration with local and international companies and organizations. This in turn supports the healthy growth of digital ecosystems in regional markets, particularly in content, communications, games, cloud, and AI.

We have 11,000 partners globally, serving some 2 million customers in their digital transformation journey. We support international companies seeking to enter new markets, as well as local enterprises’ globalization efforts, by leveraging Tencent’s digital ecosystem.

Such collaborations both local and global are essential to building sustainable digital ecosystems and dynamic talent pools.

Three steps to success

To recap, I see three main ways to expand.

  • First, build new and meaningful partnerships to attract diverse people and business necessary for both international expansion and regional growth.
  • Second, tap into new technologies ranging from AI, cloud, big data, and immersive convergence, to capture opportunities in technology, media, retail, and beyond.
  • Finally, collaborate with the right technology partner, one that aligns innovation with practical business needs, ensuring operational efficiency, cost reduction, and privacy protection.