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Leading Chinese Business School CKGSB Is Fostering China Insight for Coming Decade

Beijing-based Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) is exporting unique insight on China to the United States by co-organizing today’s Eighth China Institute Executive Summit in New York. The annual summit shapes the course of U.S.-China business relations by assembling key businesspeople, economists and government and NGO experts from both the United States and China for a full day of discussion. This year’s theme is, “Leading the Next Decade: New Dynamics in U.S.-China Business Relations.” One way in which CKGSB is delivering China knowledge is through the school’s dean, Dr. Xiang Bing, giving the summit’s opening keynote address on the past, present and future of Chinese businesses. Xiang is an expert and frequent media commentator on the globalization of Chinese businesses.

Xiang’s address will chart the driving forces behind China’s immense economic progress since 1978, as well as the limitations inherent in China’s current business model. According to Xiang, these limitations include a heavy focus on non-mainstream industries, high trade dependence, hidden environmental costs, rising income inequality, competing on “price not value” and a negative perception from abroad. He will then chart three generations of Chinese entrepreneurs, beginning with the manufacturers who started China’s boom, moving to the service industries that are sustaining that boom today and, finally, looking ahead to the globally integrated enterprises that will drive future growth. Xiang will conclude by discussing the new strategies, models and values of the next generation of Chinese business leaders.

CKGSB is also exporting to the U.S. on-the-ground insight into China’s current business environment by bringing 90 of its current and former executive MBA candidates to the summit to attend and serve as discussion panelists. These Chinese business leaders come from industries including green tech, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, real estate and finance.

CKGSB, which has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, London and New York, is mainland China’s first non-profit, private and faculty-governed business school, and China’s first home-grown business school to establish a presence overseas. The school boasts an alumni network of China’s most influential entrepreneurs and top executives, and seeks to give global executives clearer and deeper insight into the economic and business issues they face as China and other emerging nations play increasingly important roles in the world economy. This insight is generated by a faculty of leading business academics with experience in both China and the West.

In addition to CKGSB’s New York office serving as a base for faculty and student research, learning and exchange, the school also partners with Columbia Business School for an annual three-day executive education program in New York, “Global Business Strategy: China.” CKGSB aims in coming years to continue delivering insight directly to global executives by becoming the first Chinese business school to offer EMBA degree programs in Europe and North America.

“CKGSB is building a global business education platform,” comments Xiang, the school’s dean. “You can’t say you know anything about global business if you don’t understand China’s role in it. CKGSB is building the bridges that are bringing China to the world.”

How to determine what parts of your business can and should be moved to the cloud

Zack Schuler, Founder and CEO, Cal Net Technology Group

“Not a day goes by where I don’t read a headline talking about ‘the cloud,’” says Zack Schuler, founder and CEO of Cal Net Technology Group. “The current, overused definition of the cloud is ‘anything that happens on the Web,’ but in the business world, the more accurate definition of cloud computing is leveraging someone else’s hardware/software and services in order to complete a business task.”

Smart Business spoke to Schuler about the role that cloud computing has played for businesses over the last two decades, and in what ways it can benefit their operations today and in the future.

How does Cal Net Technology use cloud computing?

When I started Cal Net Technology Group 15 years ago, we didn’t host our own e-mail server. We used an outside company (Earthlink) to host our e-mail, which, in essence, meant that Earthlink was providing ‘cloud services’ for us.

We also have been using an online payroll service for eight years now, whereby we enter our payroll data into a website, and they process our paychecks for our employees. Many other businesses might be doing the same. This is truly a ‘cloud service’ that has been around for close to a decade.

Some companies use an Internet-based product called Postini, which has been around since 1999, to scrub their e-mail for spam. I bring this up to point out that all of us have been leveraging the cloud for quite some time now, and we probably didn’t even think about it; in actuality, it really isn’t a very new phenomenon.

What are some examples of how businesses can move functions to the cloud?

There is a definite shift in moving some computing resources into another company’s data center in order to save you some headaches and, in some cases, time and money, as well. I use the word some with emphasis here, because if you think that your entire business is moving to the cloud anytime soon, you are probably mistaken.

The most prominent shift to cloud computing is the migration of e-mail back into the hands of hosted providers, similar to how it was 15 years ago. Microsoft is now in the hosting business with its Exchange Online product and will soon release Office 365. Don’t be fooled by the name though; this isn’t ‘Office in the Cloud.’ It’s really Exchange, SharePoint (an intranet product), and instant messaging (dubbed Lync Online) in the cloud, with the ability to ‘rent’ Microsoft Office on a per-user, per-month basis, with Office still being installed locally on your desktop.

In moving from an on-premise e-mail solution, such as Microsoft’s Exchange Server, over to Exchange Online, the migration has been very time-consuming, and thus very costly. These migrations have proven to be more costly than moving from one on-premise solution to another. That being said, there can be some significant savings in hardware and software costs, reducing CapEx spending for many companies. Additionally, after the solution is running, the ongoing maintenance of on-premise solutions will be gone, which should equate to a cost savings in the long run.

Google has made a significant impact in cloud computing with their Google Apps software. From what I’ve seen of the software, it is a good solution for individual use, and for the use of ‘micro-businesses,’ but it reminds me of Office 95 from a functionality standpoint. So, I couldn’t recommend this to any business that relies heavily on word processing within their organization.

Perhaps the most successful case study, and a company who I feel has truly made its mark by delivering software over the Internet, is Salesforce.com. They have a very robust feature set within their application, and I think it was remarkable what they were able to do early on in the cloud-based CRM space.

There are some other line-of-business applications that are cloud-based, as well, and truly deliver a rich user experience, but these are few and far between.

What are some challenges that businesses face with using the cloud?

In our experience with cloud computing thus far, the biggest challenge is integration among systems. With as smart as technology has gotten these days, many systems are now talking to each other. For example, your accounting system might automatically e-mail invoices to your clients utilizing your e-mail system. Well, if you are on a cloud-based accounting system, and a cloud-based e-mail system, and these are at two separate cloud providers, you could lose that functionality. When both of these systems are located on your office network, then the two systems have an open enough architecture that they can have their ‘hooks’ into each other and can truly integrate. This lack of integration is what stopped us from putting our e-mail into the cloud. We simply have too many integrated systems that make it necessary to keep our e-mail on premise.

Another show-stopper for many of our clients is the fact that you completely lose control of your data and uptime when you are in the cloud. If your business is 100 percent cloud-based, a simple Internet outage at your company, or at your cloud provider, means that you are sending people home for the day, and your customers are going elsewhere. No one asks about how your cloud provider is backing up your data either. Many assume that this is happening, but I can point to many examples of lost data in the cloud as well. This is not good if you are trying to run a business.

How can businesses determine what to take to the cloud?

Is the cloud here to stay? The answer is yes. Is it truly ready for prime time? My opinion is no. The wise approach to the cloud is to hire an IT firm with expertise in this area to evaluate your systems, determine the few that may be ready for the cloud, and take a hard look at the overall ROI in moving them.

How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Small Business

Image via CrunchBase

You have a small business and you haven’t bought into the social media craze? Guess what? Silence is no longer an option. People are online talking about your company as you read this, whether you like or not.  If you don’t engage in the conversation, you risk losing your customers. But maybe you don’t have a choice as many small airports do in the State of California and across the United States. Many are owned by cities who don’t give them a dime and yet take money whenever they please. Those city managers force their airport managers to jump through hoops and political red tape to be able to promote their facilities. These airport managers have their hands tied in dealing with counties which just recently decided to launch a website, let alone a social media marketing strategy. So, I was asked by Michael McCarron, Public Information Office for San Francisco International Airport, to speak to the managers of small airports through California about the benefits of having a social media presence, so that they can convince their ‘bosses’ to allow them to open Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, as well as to create blogs.

Here’s part of my presentation. I hope it helps you with your online social media strategy. If You have more ideas, please share them in the comments section at the bottom of the post. The more ideas, the better.

1. ASSESS YOUR ASSETS: The first action you should take before engaging in online marketing or social media marketing and engagement is to look at what are you’re trying to promote. What are your assets? Who are your target customers? It may seem obvious. But, A Bay Area airport had small planes for rent. But business was slow because they were simply targeting pilots trying to rack-up hours. Turns out there was a larger audience they could target through social media, tourists looking for aerial Bay Area tours. Business took-off.

2. SIGN-UP FOR SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Facebook allows you to create a business page.  Make sure you read the rules for businesses first. You can even ‘create a page’ through your personal account, if your business allows you to do so. That makes it easy for small business owners to manage it. On LinkedIn, every employee becomes your best advocate.

3. FIND A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER: Managing multiple social networks is daunting. So, before you start posting content, requesting friends and adding followers, sign-up for a social media manager such as Ping.fm and HootSuite. It allows you to manage all of your accounts on one site and schedule your messages to deploy so you don’t have to sit over it all day. It also allows you to review the success of the tweets real-time with click-through statistics. And you can gather all the mentions of your brand, industry or search terms on Twitter through it as well. That’s for the free version. I suggest trying that first. As you get more involved in social media, I prefer SproutSocial.com. You have a choice on plans for nine-dollars to $49. There’s a 30-day free trial to make sure it works for you. What I like is that it allows you to take all of those you follow and the followers and create contacts out of them which you can manage in the system and track engagement. It also has one inbox for all of your messages from all the networks. Plus, it allows you to track check-ins at FourSquare and Gowalla.

4. POST UPDATES: It’s important to have content on your social media pages before you start adding friends and followers. When you try to find friends, they’re going to look at the page to see if they want to follow you. So you need to give them a reason to follow you first. Provide valuable information about the industry. Post pictures of your business or people enjoying your business. On YouTube, post videos of your business, customer experiences, and encourage customers to make their own. You can also ‘favorite’ other YouTube users’ videos and they will end up on your page. If you’re a small airport, posting cool aerobatic videos of the Patriots’ Jet Team is a possibility that would add value to those who ‘subscribe’ to your page. Also, share those videos on your other accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn.

5. FIND FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS: Twitter and Google+ are easiest. Search keywords to find followers. On Twitter,  If you’re a small airport, for example, search ‘pilot. You can also search ‘flying.’ Searching your town and surrounding areas as well to find key influencers, news outlets, bloggers and city officials. Also, search for large players in your market. For airports, try Boeing, Virgin America, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. If they share your posts, you have the potential to reach thousands.  I suggest adding just a few people at a time.  On Google+, comment on one of their posts immediately. On Twitter, mention them in a post immediately. You can also comment on one of their posts or simply say that you look forward to following their great content.  If it’s a reporter or blogger, give them story ideas and leads that have nothing to do with your business. Get them to trust you. To find fans on Facebook, it’s best to start with real friends and family. You can also pay as little as $100 to have an ad for your Facebook page syndicate across the network for a designated period of time.

6. ENGAGE FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS:

Cory Colligan who used to be head of marketing for California Bouquet friended me on Facebook. When she asked to be my friend, she typed a personal message, saying how impressed she was with my work and how she’s enjoyed watching my work evolve. I couldn’t remember where I knew her from. Was it a television station, radio station, or was it from school? I wasn’t sure. I was too embarrassed to ask. And she seemed harmless. So, I confirmed her friend request and wrote her a note back thanking her for her feedback and saying that I look forward to connecting. She proceeded over the next few months to follow my videos and stories. She engaged in great debates and conversation with me as well as my friends. I knew just days after I added her that I didn’t know her personally. But I was so impressed with her and the relationship we’d developed over the months, that when I was traveling to her town, Fresno, I suggested we have lunch. When I arrived she had a full basket of goodies from her shop, including the best dark chocolate covered strawberries I’ve ever tasted, waiting for me. Since then, I have been a regular customer and am quick to share her products on my page.

So, your first priority should be building that relationship with people, not pitching your service or product.

Give them story ideas and leads that have nothing to do with your business.


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