Forest Key, our Director of Product Management, and I took a two week Asia trip to visit customers, partners, and MS folks at the end of January.  The first stop was China...Beijing and then Shanghai.  What a trip...I'll be blogging about this for the foreseeable future.  First...a few random business thoughts on China...

Let me start by saying that China is loaded with opportunity...not unlike what Professor John Doggett has been preaching evangelically for quite some time now.  (Quick aside, but in my long list of missed educational opportunities, missing his class has to be at or near the very top.)  But I digress...

The scale of China is truly something to behold.  Beijing and particularly Shanghai are massive cities.  There are people everywhere.  Traffic, while managed reasonably well, makes just about anything you've experienced in most other parts of the world seem insignificant at best.

The scale, infrastructure, and bustling activity makes their 10%/year growth numbers seem almost conservative.  There is construction everywhere.  Skyscrapers of 30-40 stories seem rather insignificant and the most modern buildings would be treasures in any of the world's greatest cities.  It feels more like a thriving capitalist wonderland than a centrally planned economy devoid of opportunity.  It's just unreal.

Below is a shot of me, Leon Brown (our "troubadour" in Singapore - Asia Pacific marketing guy), Forest, and Nigel Burton (China Country Lead for DPE) in Tiananmen Square.  (By the way, Beijing was frigid - freezing temperatures but with a nasty 40 mph wind seemingly everywhere.)

But back to my business observations...China is a vast country full of resourceful, brilliant, and entrepreneurial people.  These people have access to a relatively inexpensive labor force in country that is likely to persist for at least a generation, but more likely at least a hundred years.  For the most part, the infrastructure is pretty good - good roads, good utilities, good broadband access.  It's ripe for continued business & entrepreneurial success.  All the elements are there.

Other quick observations on China:

  • Alongside/in/around the beautiful skyscrapers are a lot that need renovation.  I can see a real business opportunity there long-term.
  • The 2008 Olympics (in Beijing) will be China's coming out party.  People around the world who have never had the pleasure of visiting the country will begin to understand the unlimited potential of China in coming years.
  • You have to get a foot massage while there - I was walking on air after getting them beat up for almost 90 minutes.
  • English language is pervasive in the business community, but the food is definitely distinct!

Next:  who we met with and a Shanghai tour gone awry...