If you think that translating your website into Chinese will fully serve your Chinese customers’ needs, you’re wrong. In fact, there’s no guarantee that translated content will even meet your Chinese customers’ most basic needs. But even if the content is useful, firms need to ensure that localized sites meet the other two components of the customer experience pyramid — they must be easy to use and enjoyable.
Thousands of years of rich cultural heritage and Chinese consumers’ unique offline behaviors have shaped a set of needs, expectations, and perceptions that differ from those of their Western counterparts. Add the technical constraints that have defined Chinese site development, and customer experience professionals face an uphill battle in trying to solve the riddle of the Chinese online market. My new report, "What Chinese Consumers Expect From Website Experiences," answers three critical website design questions:
What makes a website useful to Chinese users?
What makes a website easy to use for Chinese users?
Ten years ago, open source software (OSS) was more like a toy for independent software vendors (ISVs) in China: Only the geeks in R&D played around with it. However, the software industry has been developing quickly in China throughout the past decade, and technology trends such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), business process management (BPM), cloud computing, the mobile Internet, and big data are driving much broader adoption of OSS.
OSS has become a widely used element of firms’ enterprise architecture. For front-end application architecture on the client side, various open source frameworks, such as jQuery and ExtJS, have been incorporated into many ISVs’ front-end frameworks. On the server side, OSS like Node.js is becoming popular for ISVs in China for high Web throughput capabilities. From an infrastructure and information architecture perspective, open source offerings like Openstack, Cloudstack, and Eucalyptus have been piloted by major telecom carriers including China Telecom and China Unicom, as well as information and communication solution providers like Huawei and IT service providers like CIeNET. To round this out, many startup companies are developing solutions based on MongoDB, an open source NoSQL database.
Familiarity with OSS is becoming a necessary qualification for software developers and product strategy professionals. Because of the wide usage of OSS among both vendors and end users, working experience and extensive knowledge with OSS is becoming a necessary qualification not only for software engineers, but also an important factors for product strategy professionals to establish appropriate product road maps and support their business initiatives.
Back in October 2011, Microsoft named the initiative to introduce Windows Azure cloud platform into the Chinese market “Moon Cake,” which represents harmony and happiness in Chinese culture. On May 23, 2013, Microsoft made the announcement in Shanghai that Windows Azure will be available in Chinese market starting on June 6 — almost half a year after its agreement with Shanghai government and 21ViaNet to operate Windows Azure together last November. Chinese customers will finally be able to “taste” this foreign moon cake.
I believe that a new chapter of cloud is going to be written by a new ecosystem in China market, and Microsoft will be the leader of this disruption. My reasons:
The cloud market in China will be more disrupted. Due to the regulatory limitations on data center and related telecom value-added services operations for foreign players, the cloud market for both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has been an easy battlefield for local players, such as Alibaba/HiChina. Microsoft’s innovative way working with both government and local service partners to break through this “great wall” shows all of the major global giants, such as Amazon.com, the great opportunity from this approach to the Chinese market. We can anticipate that they will also enter the Chinese market in the coming six to 18 months.
Dane Anderson, Dan Bieler, Charlie Kun Dai, Chris Mines, Nupur Singh Andley, Tirthankar Sen, Christopher Voce, Bryan Wang
Huawei is one of the most intriguing companies in the ICT industry, but its overall strategy remains largely unchanged: imitating established products and services, then adjusting and enhancing them, and making them available at an attractive price point. But to be fair: Huawei is pushing more and more innovative products.
In 2012, Huawei’s annual revenue growth slowed down to 8% to CNY 220 billion (about US$ 35 billion). During the same period, its EBIT margin remained flat at 9%, despite the changing revenue composition due to the growth of its consumer and enterprise business. Unlike last year’s event which was dominated by the announcement to push into the enterprise space, this year’s Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen saw little ground breaking news. It was more of a progress report:
I am delighted to announce that for the first time, our annual US and European consumers and technology benchmark reports have a Chinese counterpart: The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2012, China. This report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for understanding how consumers change their technology adoption, usage, and behavior over time. The report, based on one of our Asia Pacific Technographics® surveys, covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, device ownership — including penetration data and forecasts for smartphones and tablets — media consumption, retail, social media, and a deep dive on mobile.
For this report, we divided the metropolitan Chinese online consumers into three distinct groups based on their technology optimism and economic power:
Early adopters are high-income individuals who are also technology optimists — people who see technology as a positive force in their lives.
Mainstream users are either high-income technology pessimists or low-income technology optimists.
Across Asia Pacific (AP), expanding mobility support for employees, customers, and/or business partners will be the top strategic telecom priority for enterprises in 2013, surpassing other telecom priorities like performing network management and consolidating operations equipment, rationalizing/consolidating telecom/communications service providers, and moving communications applications to the cloud.
While enterprises will invest in a range of mobility products and services, there are five key areas in particular which will attract the most investment in 2013. Vendors need to focus on the solutions and engagement models that meet customers’ needs in these five areas and target the industries and countries where the demand will be greatest:
Business consulting services. Specifically for defining a formal enterprise mobility and/or BYOD program strategy, including devices, applications, data access, and provisioning. Moreover, AP organizations will likely need help in drafting compliance and legal policies related to enterprise mobility.
Telecom expense management solutions. This is one of the most critical telecom requirements for AP CIOs in 2013. Across the region, 50% to 60% of organizations pay the entire cost of voice and data services for company-supported Android and iOS phones and tablets. For BlackBerry phones, this proportion is nearly 70%.
Over the past three years, multinational companies’ (MNCs’) approach to outsourcing in China has steadily matured as they seek to leverage broader outsourcing models and source from a combination of global providers and local Chinese providers.
In my latest report, Lessons Learned From Outsourcing In China: Part 2, I analyze the key outsourcing trends and approaches to help sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals at MNCs select the right local outsourcing suppliers. As part of this analysis, I’ve highlighted the main service capabilities of local Chinese vendors broken down by service model and profile the different types of service providers that currently operate in China.
Key findings from the report include:
MNCs are adopting sophisticated outsourcing approaches in China. Many MNCs are shifting away from a pure global service provider approach to a broader shortlist that also includes Chinese providers. SVM professionals at MNCs appreciate local providers’ broader geographic coverage, lower outsourcing cost and more flexible service deliverables.
MNCs are also diversifying their outsourcing requirements. After signing the first wave of outsourcing contracts in the past five to 10 years, MNCs are becoming increasingly comfortable considering more sophisticated outsourcing contracts, such as best-of-breed selection, vertical outsourcing, etc.
Local outsourcing service providers are continually improving their capabilities. To approach more MNC clients in China, local providers have enhanced their geographic coverage in remote cities, accelerated consolidations, recruited senior talent for improved depth at key positions and aggressively recruited fresh graduates to manage costs.
As businesses get larger, and the need for effective alignment of the business with technology capabilities grows, enterprise architecture becomes an essential competency. But in China, many CIOs are struggling with setting up a high-performance enterprise architecture program to support their business strategies in a disruptive market landscape. This seems equally true for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and multinational companies (MNCs).
To gain a better understanding of the problem, I had an interesting conversation with Le Yao, general secretary of Center for Informatization and Information Management (CIIM) and director of the CIO program at Peking University. Le Yao is one of the first pioneers introducing The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) into China to help address the above challenges. I believe that the five-year journey of TOGAF in China is just an early beginning for EA, and companies in the China market need relevant EA insights to help them support their business:
Taking an EA course is one thing; practicing EA is something else. Companies taking TOGAF courses in China seem to be aiming more at sales enablement than practicing EA internally. MNCs like IBM, Accenture, and HP are more likely to try to infuse the essence of the methodology into their PowerPoint slides for marketing and/or bidding purposes; IBM has also invited channel partners such as Neusoft, Digital China, CS&S, and Asiainfo to take the training.
TOGAF is too high-level to be relevant. End user trainees learning the enterprise architecture framework that Yao’s team introduced in China in 2007 found it to be too high-level and conceptual. Also, the trainers only went through what was written in the textbook without using industry-specific cases or practice-related information — making the training less relevant and difficult to apply.
The Asia Pacific (AP) growth engine did not fire on all cylinders in 2012, leading Forrester to revise its IT purchases growth forecasts for the year. While Australia, South Korea, and several ASEAN tech markets are showing continued solid growth, in other markets like China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, political leaders are struggling in the face of growing economic problems. My colleague Andy Bartels and I, with the help of Forrester’s AP analyst team, have recently published our revised IT purchase growth forecasts for 2013. Here are our key expectations by country:
2012’s slowdown in China will be short-lived. Despite a slowdown in 2012, China continues to attract intense vendor interest because of its size and potential for further growth. The expected government stimulus efforts in the country will offset factors such as weak demand from businesses and governments. The slowdown in 2012 (+9%) is therefore likely to be short-lived, with stronger growth resuming in 2013 (+10%).
India’s IT growth will remain slower than expected through 2014. 2012 (+7%) was a relatively lackluster year for the tech market in India. Worse than expected economic growth, combined with political gridlock on economic reforms, kept the tech market from reaching its full potential in 2012. While we expect the public sector to drive India’s IT spending growth, the impact will be limited through 2014 due to the parliamentary elections scheduled for that year.
Data management is becoming critical as organizations seek to better understand and target their customers, drive out inefficiency, and satisfy government regulations. Despite this, the maturity of data management practices at companies in China is generally poor.
I had an enlightening conversation with my colleague, senior analyst Michele Goetz, who covers all aspects of data management. She told me that in North America and Europe, data management maturity varies widely from company to company; only about 5% have mature practices and a robust data management infrastructure. Most organizations are still struggling to be agile and lack measurement, even if they already have data management platforms in place. Very few of them align adequately with their specific business or information strategy and organizational structure.
If we look at data management maturity in China, I suspect the results are even worse: that fewer than 1% of the companies are mature in terms of integrated strategy, agile execution and continuous performance measurement. Specifically:
The practice of data management is still in the early stages. Data management is not only about simply deploying technology like data warehousing or related middleware, but also means putting in place the strategy and architectural practice, including contextual services and metadata pattern modeling, to align with business focus. The current focus of Chinese enterprises for data management is mostly around data warehousing, master data management, and basic support for both end-to-end business processes and composite applications for top management decision-making. It’s still far from leveraging the valuable data in business processes and business analytics.