Surrey International MBA Study Tour – Beijing, China July 2018
Picking up where we left off…
Our trip to Baidu’s head office, was an honest insight into the steps being taken by the internet giant, together with the Chinese government, to create a truly transparent society with the use of China’s latest innovation and capabilities in tracking technology.
It was intriguing to see the level of technology being trialled and developed to capture detailed data from the public e.g. pinpointing each individual in a specific location at any one time, to facial and behavioural recognition databases. For me it took a little while for the awe around the capabilities to give way to a feeling of concern around the level of control desired by technology companies working hand in hand with the government. None the less, it was fascinating to take a closer look into the strictly Chinese smart movement, with a proud and fierce refusal to look outward for validation.
One of the highlights for me and many others in the group was our trip to Microsoft’s head office in the heart of Beijing. It was a friendly and interactive experience, with many of us demoing the gismos and gadgets on show which used the latest VR, AI, as well as IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data technology.
Like many of our visits and lectures, the main take away from Microsoft was the incredible rate at which technology is driving China’s assent in its global and domestic position, through the convenience and quality being offered to consumers. We learnt how Microsoft are now diversifying from being software providers to service providers, with real-time, instantaneous functionality being built into new products. For example, many selfies were taken inside the smart kitchen currently in development, equipped with a smart fridge which knows when your groceries need re-ordering and then does it for you, as well a smart kitchen counter which can recognise food items placed onto it, offering product information and other fun facts.
Another one of China’s plans for longevity includes ‘aggressive globalisation’, which does not appear to consider America or its economic might. Unsurprisingly Trump was a hot topic and made for lively debates in a couple of our lectures. China claims it will take 63% of all emerging economies by 2025. In order to do this they are now more willingly extending the hand of friendship to the Middle-East, Africa and the UK among others, ushering in a fundamental shift of economic focus for the world, with a view towards a shared economic future with pro-China countries.
It was absorbing to learn about how China and the Chinese people are changing, both as consumers and providers. Chinese brands are now breaking into the ‘Interbrand’ league, a global brand ranking standard, for the first time with brands like Huawei and Lenova. One of many signs of China’s continually evolving position and capability to lead in new areas.
The involved learning and first-hand experience around the high pace of urbanisation, digital, business and technological change in Beijing was fascinating and immersive. We were offered a close look at China’s social and business culture, which for me has developed a deeper global business mind set for potential future dealings. Overall it was an eye-opening trip to take with a great group of people. Special thanks to Chris Mahon, Surrey MBA Director for creating a wonderful opportunity and planning this trip.
Lakshmi Mohindra, Marketing Coordinator, Surrey Business School
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