It would be hard to turn down an invitation from the Chinese government to visit. We received such an invitation and have just returned from Ningpo, a seaport city in the northeast of Zhejiang province. The 3 day meeting we attended pulled together local and overseas businesses in various high tech and medical fields. This formed part of an ongoing effort by Chinese provinces to attract high tech industries from overseas. Below we list 5 things to know about China and ArcGIS Online:
1) The pace of growth in China is phenomenal. Infrastructure in particular is seeing rapid development. In Ningpo alone, the city has been transformed in 4 years. Downtown now boasts multiple skyscrapers with a car park beneath which accommodates 10,000 cars. The potential applications of GIS technology and ArcGIS Online in particular are considerable.
2) Though the larger Chinese cities are expensive; labor remains cheap. There is a surplus of graduates from Chinese universities; a large talent pool so far being underused.
3) Many of the Chinese provinces, particularly in the east of the country are building business parks. Brand new offices are being built. Provinces are providing financial incentives to high tech companies to set up offices in these business parks. This has implications both for doing business inside China and using skilled staff for external ArcGIS Online projects.
4) Wi-fi is available across the country, and smartphone penetration is high. It is noticeable in both the wealthy urban areas, and poorer rural regions that smartphones are very popular. Mobile apps which use GPS and GIS technology have a large potential user base.
5) Business in China relies very heavily on building relationships. This does not exclude non-Chinese individuals and organizations. But the lack of spoken English in the country, means a native speaker is essential for developing business relations in the country.
Outside of the business side of our trip we managed a little relaxation time. A short trip to the city of Guilin in the south made us realize how much there is to see in China. It is truly an amazing country.