What technology mistakes do companies make with new investments in China?
Investing in technology can bring a lot of benefits to your small or medium business operating in China. And we are big believers that good IT services will make your business thrive and support your future.
But have you covered all the bases?
Have you documented everything?
And what’s the true pain point you’re looking to solve?
With this article, I want to cover the 11 standard mistakes that companies can make when investing in technology for their offices or factories in China.
1. Lack of knowledge about the technology at your office
You’ve found a new tool that looks amazing and you want to buy it, install it and implement in to your office.
But once you start deploying it, you find out you already had a similar tool you bought some months ago, but never documented…
Often, we are invited by companies to run IT audits in their offices and factories because the decision makers are not sure of their current IT tools, software and hardware. This happens because the companies don’t keep clear and organized documentation about their IT in China.
The why can be very diverse and not the topic of this article, but we strongly suggest any company to document everything related to IT before deciding new investments.
Maybe you already have a working solution…
2. Not a clear understanding of the problem
Are you sure technology is the problem?
Some problems that may arise from technology, often are related to the internal process or company rules.
Where do you save your files? Who has access to your documents? What kind of rights do your users have?
Some time ago, there was a new client that was having issues with their current internet line. The General manager wanted to purchase a more expensive internet line as a solution. When we checked their office for the IT Audit, we found out that some users were using their company connection to download files from social media. We changed some setups on their IT infrastructure and the issue disappeared.
3. Buying “sexy”, instead of choosing “fit”
A lof of companies will try to sell the latest innovations and push for solutions that are the “sexy” solutions of the moment.
- have you audited your China IT needs (i.e. IT Audit)?
- is there an agreement on the next steps to achieve your business objective to operate in China?
- what are the clear standards to follow and document?
4. The devil is in the detail
Never work on assumptions. Confirm all the objectives, write them down, set clear timelines, clear stakeholders and a clear project management.
Always work with a clear scope and timeline. Small details make or break IT projects everywhere.
More so in China…
5. Lack of communication and staff buy-in
You’ve found a great solution, you’ve found a great company to implement it. The final result follows all the agreed objectives.
But…now it’s time to actually use it.
People like habits and they struggle moving from an old tried and trusted solution to a new one. Worse of all, they become reluctant if they were not consulted and part of the process.
As a decision maker operating a business in China and working with technology, it’s imperative to find a solution that will benefit your IT team at the HQ AND be supported by the local team in China.
Always, communicate properly to your China team and local organization:
● changes you are implementing,
● results of these changes, and
● benefits for their daily work.
If you don’t do it, your local team will operate without using the new solution, stick to their old ways, maybe look for a new job, or worse, try to block and interfere with your new IT solution.
6. LRATC – Long-run average total cost
Recently we have had some new customers choosing us compared to their previous cheaper IT vendors in China.
Their main issue was the service cost.
The previous local vendor was way cheaper than us and gave more on-site support.
Why did they drop them?
The customer had the following 2 issues:
1. Issues were only patched, but hardly looked at the root cause
2. There was no documentation
a. Any time they customer would ask the previous vendor about tickets or documentation, their IT team would say that they IT person knew everything, so there was no need to document….
The price tag can only tell you so much.
What are the costs life time costs, like implementation, migration, integration, maintenance, and training? What benefits is your China business receiving over the lifetime?
Having the whole picture can help your business thrive and succeed in China. Without the right information, you can save a penny (or a yuan) here and there, but it will cost you more long term.
7. China and the rest of the world
Do you know Microsoft Teams is not available in the Chinese version of Microsoft? You can only purchase it within the Global version. And when you do that, you need to make sure your local connectivity is not a shared internet. As an extra, you should also choose carefully the ISP vendor in China.
Every time you make a business IT decision in China, consider that the country has its own rules and its own IT technicalities. Knowing them, acting upon them carefully and selecting the right tools will allow your China business to succeed and compete in this highly competitive market.
Don’t let IT be a drag on your business, because you didn’t not choose a solution that can work seamlessly in China.
8. Forgetting about cybersecurity
Businesses across the world are suffering security breaches at alarming rates and more and more confidential consumer data have been available on the black market (i.e. Facebook and LinkedIn being the latest). To make things worse, a whopping 74 percent of these cybersecurity victims don’t know how they got hacked.
This setup makes it hard for the IT team to avoid the issue repeating again in the near future.
What are the most common reasons why cyber hacks happen? Here is a quick list:
● careless employees,
● weak passwords,
● phishing traps, and
● other vulnerabilities.
According to Chiefexecutive.com human error cause 90 percent of all security breaches and according to idagent.com weak or lost passwords cause 63 percent of breaches.
If and when your network is hacked, you can have downtime, lose money (i.e. employees cannot work and / or cannot deal with customers efficiently), you may risk customers or you can get a fine for not protecting data appropriately.
Security is always important, and for a lot of companies it becomes important after being hacked. Prevent this and set a clear priority on improving the cybersecurity of your business in China.
9. Delaying Software Updates
When was the last time you’ve updated the software on your work laptop or computer? That’s the same question we ask a lot of new customers we get for the IT services. The sad answer is that plenty of them thought they had all the software updated.
Unfortunately, the reality is that a lot of businesses don’t have all their software updated with the latest security patches / software updates.
We understand it: updating business software may be time consuming, costly (the new licenses have a cost) or even boring.
The issue is very simple: you may miss the last features (better performance, battery saving, more security and so on), or get hacked because cybercriminals will exploit security loopholes that can only be covered with the latest updates.
10. Forgetting to Train Employees
A simple measure of a successful business in China is how often are the employees trained and updated with the latest software the company has implemented.
This can be an issue especially after Spring Festival, when a lot of Chinese employees change jobs and move to new companies.
The tech team (in-house or outsourced) and the business decision makers need to prepare plans to bring new employees on board quickly with the tech tools available.
Another important factor to consider in employee training, is the security: have you prepared your employees against phishing emails? Do you have a standard process in place for what to in case of a cyberattack?
Some of your employees “get” technology quickly, but not everyone will do. It’s always better to be proactive and create a process to train your employees properly and prevent issues before they arise.
11. Not Creating Reliable Backups
You have created a strong secured network, you’ve updated all the software, you’ve trained all your employees. But you have no backup for your China operations?
Here are some of the potential loss you can incur without a backup:
● Employee records
● Customer data
● General business data
● Historical records
● Legal documents
● Contracts and partner information
● Accounting information
Always have a backup! And another one, just to make sure!
Backup your company’s data, your accounting, your employees data and others. You never know when an emergency will happen (i.e. ransomware) and you’d wish to have a backup to use without paying any ransom or rebuild everything and lose days, weeks or even months of hard work!
Conclusion: Technology is Both a Threat and an Opportunity
Technology can be an amazing asset for your China operations, but you need to prepare your team and your network infrastructure.
Go through the IT issues mentioned in this list and check what is good and what needs improvements.
When you implement the proper technologies with a clear strategy, your China team will benefit from it and keep thriving in this highly competitive environment. However, if you consider technology just as a cost or don’t take a proactive approach, you will face problems and let your competition eat your lunch.