As the second largest economy in the world, China is moving toward digital faster than anyone can imagine. The number of online buyers in China alone will reach 356 million in 2014 — surpassing the total US population. In addition, the value of China’s online retail market reached $294 billion in 2013, the first time it’s ever taken over the US market, which is estimated at $262 billion. However, the experience that Chinese consumers are receiving in digital media, either on PC or mobile, is still far behind many mature markets.
At the same time, the Chinese economy is slowing down; annual GDP growth will slow from 10% in 2010 to a probable 7% in 2014. The slower economic growth is a challenge for multinational companies and local enterprises to win customers, be it in tier one or tier six cities. Under such circumstances, we believe that China has entered the “age of the customer,” which Forrester defines as “a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.”
Since 2012, China has become the second-largest economy and third-largest IT market in the world, but IT spending per capita in China is still less than 5% of US. The potential for IT spending growth is obvious in the coming years. For CIOs in China to succeed, they need to go beyond retaining “control” of technologies to focusing on retaining and winning customers.
Forrester recently published its technology predictions for Asia Pacific in 2014, highlighting to technology professionals that the ability to embrace the age of the customer will determine success or failure of an organization. We believe that we have entered “a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.”
In particular, CIOs in China should take note of the following five key 2014 predictions:
Technology spending is slowing down in China and local vendors will gain share. According to my latest China Tech Market Outlook: 2014 report, Forrester estimates that China’s enterprise IT purchases will grow by 6% in 2013, to RMB 698 billion, and a further 8% in 2014, to RMB 752 billion. This is slower than then 11% growth in 2011 and 9% growth in 2012. The new government is focusing on economic reforms to overcome both internal and external challenges. In the meantime, local vendors like Huawei, Inspur, and Lenovo will likely benefit from the NSA/Snowden issue; they will gain share mostly in the hardware space, including server, storage, and networking, in 2014.