Jimmy Hsiao — The techno-cultural divide between the US and China

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Jimmy talks about how technical and cultural factors combine to complicate US-Chinese business practices.

In this 8 minute podcast (download iPod compatible, 42MB), Jimmy Hsiao and I continue our conversation by discussing some of the techno-cultural subtleties to doing business in China. Overall, Jimmy notes, U.S. companies have a lead on Chinese companies in technological integration. His business is built on translating U.S. technological integration strategies into something that will be effective in Chinese business culture. It's not just a simple matter of translating English into Chinese.

We discuss three major differences where it is easy for foreigners in China to make mistakes:

  • The Chinese skipped over relying on personal computers for Internet communication. Rather, they rely on cell phone text messages and other mobile solutions. This has direct implications for doing things like creating eCatalog systems. The catalog must have a mobile interface.
  • Distances from The U.S. to China are great and the data rates between them are restricted. Companies cannot rely on having Internet services from the U.S. easily available in China and vice versa.
  • China has 56 distinct nationalities and a land mass that is slightly larger than the U.S. There is not just one China that you do business in but multiple Chinas.

Additional Links

  • Jimmy mentions Ctrip, a Chinese travel agency. They have an Internet site, but they send all confirmations first by cell phone text message.
  • As of 2004, as Jimmy notes, there were an estimated 320 million mobile phone users in China, more than the entire population of the United States.

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Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Jimmy Hsiao — The techno-cultural divide between the US and China.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://michiganinnovators.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/fpgibson/MI/mt41/mt-tb.cgi/14

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Nicholas Jackson on November 13, 2007 12:13 AM
Quite possibly the most daunting business tasks that I could think of would be taking my company global. To begin with, I would have to thoroughly understand the laws and regulations of the market that I wished to enter. This would of course, pave the way for me to do business legally, but I would still need to comply with the cultural standards in order to reach my target audience. To be honest, through all of my educational experience, I’m not sure if the idea of the cultural differences between nations has ever been introduced? Sure, the legal and regulatory obligations have been thoroughly covered, but never the cultural. I never understood the cultural differences between the United States and China concerning communication. 400 million cell phones? That is amazing! I see the convenience with using a cell phone for complete communication; it’s just that the difficulty escapes me. Even though text messaging allows for mobile communication, it is more difficult and time consuming when compared to email. I guess I just can’t understand how text messaging became such a dominant force in the Chinese culture? I’m interested to know other services that Mr. Hsiao’s company might offer. I understand that they play a liaison role with American companies wanting to do business in China and help them operate locally. With that said, do they offer suggestions concerning marketing? Do they help their customers modify their products or services to better suit the Chinese culture? Mentioned in the interview was the “great firewall” of China. If I understand this correctly, there are certain sites on the internet that are not available to the public in China. Is this because of the government of China and their efforts to shield the public from sites they deem inappropriate? My question is this. If the Chinese government goes to great lengths to censor internet traffic, what do they do to control text messaging traffic? With the concentration of mobile phone users in China, this would seem to be paramount for the Chinese government. Regards – Nicholas B. Jackson Eastern Michigan University

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