Vlad Bilanovsky - Vice President Partner Management
It’s easy to see why global business increasingly refers to Africa as being part of the new Silk Road. Not only is the African continent a major source of the resources imported by Chinese manufacturers to make the goods and services they ship out to the rest of the world, it is also a major source of the fuel powering the global boom and increasingly a major market for goods produced all over the world.
As these global trade routes converge to China the challenge is in finding efficient ways to work with the Chinese economy, and design business processes and partners with the experience and technology to dovetail neatly with the opportunities as they grow.
It’s a challenge we’ve been tackling for the last decade at CargoWise, as China now represents not only our biggest growth market but our largest single customer base. China, however, represents some particular challenges which can be difficult to appreciate from the outside.
Regional differences within the country need to be accounted for and understood; while there is a single written language, there are at least seven different spoken forms of Chinese, and although they are often referred to as different dialects many are not mutually intelligible. There are also 34 different provinces, and provincial governments to deal with.
This means there are different regulatory and tax requirements which need to be integrated into business practices in order to operate effectively in different parts of the country. The rapidly developing business culture requires that companies coming into the Chinese market are prepared to comply with constantly evolving regulatory requirements.
As is often the case when moving into new markets, the safest approach is to look for technology providers who already have experience in the area, learn from and in some cases lean on, their experience. Not only because they know the market you are interested in, but because they have already established links between both markets. In this case we have customers who are transnational with offices operating in multiple locations from a single database - not only between China and Africa, but also throughout Europe and the Americas.
This experience and expertise not only makes it easier for our African customers to expand into China, but also for our Chinese and Asian customers to expand into the African region, adding additional profits and improved performance along the Sino-African route.
By taking advantage of this level of experience our customers can win new business and improve margins while avoiding the headaches of global expansion. More importantly, these companies will seize the opportunity to expand while the market is on a rapid growth curve, rather than entering a market where competition is already deeply entrenched.
It’s a bit like paving the new Silk Road, only this time we’re doing it with software, not flagstones.
Vlad Bilanovsky is Vice President Partner Management for CargoWise®
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