If you are now conducting business in China or plan to do so soon, you will run across a phenomenon called “China speed.” It refers to the lightning-like speed with which technological change can happen in the Communist country. Especially with phones, a new model can be introduced, be dominant and then be technologically obsolete within nine months, experts say.
China speed isn’t limited to tech products, although that is where the phenomena is most prevalent. While visiting the China-Laos railway project, Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong noted that five months prior, he witnessed the opening of a tunnel that by the time of his second visit was more than 5,000 meters (more than 3 miles) long.
China speed isn’t earthbound
In her paper “China’s Strategy in Space,” Stacey Solomone discusses China’s space program and how the demands of China speed force changes in both space technology and communications technology. She said that the demand for a space program right away forces China to push technological innovation, and this push spills over into other technologies as well.
Solomone notes the Communist Party of China wants to control the pace of technological rollouts, but China speed often subverts that process: People want the fastest gadgets with the highest technology and they want them now.
China also requires long-term strategy, patience
Nothing about doing business in China is easy, and relying on China speed is no different. U.S. sports and entertainment groups such as the NFL, the NBA and World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, cite the need for patience and a long-term strategy to break in to the Chinese market.
For example, the NBA has been in China for 30 years. They learned that they need to market on a localized, not national level. They also learned that success will not come from arena sales and events but on the usage of social media. And they learned that they need to film and present their games in a different manner so they can reach the maximum number of Chinese basketball fans.
The synthesis of China speed and a long-term strategy of patience can be found in Norwegian telecommunications firm Telenor. Their leaders see Western firms barge into China without a long-term strategy and fail. Any business strategy requires the patience to learn the nuances of the society and your product’s place in it.
Only then, Telenor officials say, can you hire a Chinese team, give them the guidance they need and turn them loose so they can combat competitors who are using China speed effectively against them.