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We always preach to our clients to be sensitive to the local culture and language when doing business outside of the US. Packaging, instructions, warranty, terms and conditions, copy writing, positioning, etc are all important to a successful international strategy.

What we often don’t think about is the role language plays when we deal with our international partners, customers and vendors. We meet with them or have a phone conversation, make decisions and execute plans based on these discussions and conversations. As a seasoned veteran of many international relationships we have come to learn that what you say and what they think you say are quite often very different. Be very careful. Just because someone says they understand, doesn’t mean they do.

Here is a good article that validates this truism. And, according to the article written by Stephanie Overby in an April 05, CIO newsletter, understanding between our international partners and customers is getting worse not better.

Global Business English Skills Declining

We believe it is up to us, you and me, to take responsibility and make sure we are truly understood.

A recent newsletter made an interesting point about mergers and acquisitions.  Not only have manufacturing jobs moved off shore to Asia Pacific but now acquisitions and mergers seem to be doing the same. Recent Ernst & Young data shows that technology mergers and acquisitions in 2011 for Asia-Pacific, including Japan, totaled 552 deals – a 19 percent increase over 2010. The deal value was USD$24 billion – representing a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous year. Most of the deals were attributed to social media, mobile technology or cloud computing. China accounted for 36 percent of the deals.

A recent article by Linette Lopez from the Business Insider covered the China Business Council’s survey regarding the biggest issues when doing business in China. You can find the entire article  here http://read.bi/pZhVde.

I was curious what our readers are experiencing in their business initiatives in China. Of particular interest was the reference that IP protection has improved. While that statement may be true I am not sure the level of improvement is significant. It still seems that China has a long way to go. What are your thoughts on this topic.

Are you as optimistic as the respondents to the survey from the China Business Council?

It is all to common that an organizations international strategy is determined by the part of the world that contacts it first and sends an unsolicited purchase order. While we all like to take the orders and keep the cash flow going, be careful not to jump to quickly.

Every company needs a strategy. What’s the opportunity? Why is this country or region preferable to another one? How are you selling your products in that country? What are the shipping, legal, environmental and tax implications? All too often we take the path of least resistance rather than invest some time to determine the best opportunity and how to approach it. Be careful.

Chinese consumers are going online at a rapid rate. According to a recent Forrester report its online population will increase from 251.3 million in 2009 to 432 million in 2014. More than 80% of online consumers in metropolitan China access the Internet via a broadband connection. And as of April 2011, China’s three main carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, reported that 3G subscriber numbers were some 67 million, up from just 10 million in 2009.

China is rapidly creating one of the largest online retail markets in Asia Pacific, growing from $29.1 billion in 2009 to $159.4 billion in 2015.

The three most popular methods of paying for goods online are – Alipay, COD and Bank Transfers.

Developing a China online strategy is key to success in this region of the world. Don’t ignore this channel and opportunity.

Of course China is the hot market to sell US products. Now there is a new player that is helping small businesses get access to this huge market. Export Now is the new access point for SMB’s.       Check it out here.

Also, don’t forget to use Baidu in China. It is the search engine giant there.

UPS is sponsoring a day long international trade program for businesses. AmeriChannels will participate to do breakout sessions throughout the day on International Marketing. The symposium description is; Reaching customers around the world has never been easier, but successful business people need to take into consideration delivery options, differing payment methods, and contingency planning in order to ensure a profitable and sustained presence in global markets. This full-day, action-oriented program will give you the tools and resources to make strategic decisions to benefit your bottom-line success.

For more information your invitation is here

http://www.exportassistance.com/documents-forms/export-documentation-templates/doc_download/171-ups-international-trade-symposium

Three months until the end of the year. If you’re not already done, now is the time to be finalizing your marketing and sales strategies for 2012. Review your market strategies. What are the marketing and sales drivers that are going to really affect next year? What else needs to be done to get ready? Training? Localization of materials? Packaging? Production or supply chain issues?

All of these questions should have answers by now. Remember, the easiest way to hit sales targets for next year is to have a full 12 months of sales. In other words, you can’t be wasting the 1st quarter getting your marketing, promotional strategies and sales channels up to speed. It all needs to be in place to maximize your revenue for the full 12 months of next year.

We continue to see a number of news stories (see below) that indicate technology globally is in good shape. It is robust and growing despite all of the financial woes that many countries are experiencing. Because of these financial concerns are we in jeopardy of seeing a slowdown in IT and technology spending? Are you concerned and what do you think needs to happen to fix it? We need to continue the momentum that has started as it is so difficult to get it moving again. And, many of the companies that benefit from this growth are US companies that can’t afford to see a decline globally.

1. Gartner is reporting that the global enterprise software market grew by 8.5 percent in 2010 – reaching USD$245 billion. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP and Symantec accounted for a combined 50.2 percent of the market. Company’s seeing some of the strongest growth rates were VMware (41 percent), Adobe (29 percent) and SalesForce (28 percent).

2. The global technology sector saw 794 mergers and acquisitions during the first quarter of this year, according to Ernst & Young. That represents a 26 percent increase in activity over the first quarter of last year. The firm noted that cloud computing was a factor behind dozens of deals with telephone and cable network operators acquiring services companies with large data centers in order to increase their ability to provide cloud services.

3. Over the past 10 years, the information and communication technology (ICT) growth in Africa has exceeded all predictions. In 2000, 11 million people in Africa had cell phones, in 2005 the number was 200 million and today it is approaching 400 million. Likewise in 2000, 3 million users accessed the Internet in Africa while last year that number reached more than 100 million users. Annual ICT-related revenues in Africa are expected to reach USD$50 billion this year.

4. Last year the Singapore government spent USD$896 million on information and communication technology investments.  This fiscal year the investment will be USD$880 million. A portion of the investments this year will be put toward integrating military healthcare records with the national health care system.

5.  Fourty percent of businesses surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region are considering cloud computing. Of all the businesses surveyed by SpringBoard, 16 percent said they were looking to support unpredictable workloads, 13 percent wanted to reduce hardware costs while 11 percent needed to reduce staffing and/or administrative expenses. Only 14 percent of companies with fewer than 50 PCs said they were currently using any cloud offerings, while 36 percent of companies with more than 500 PCs reporting some level of cloud utilization.

5 points above from the York Group monthly newsletter

Over the past several weeks I have read a variety of comments from research analysts, technology manufacturers and industry pundits that paint a positive future for technology growth around the world. I have listed just a few of them below.

Reading these would make you believe that technology will be a leading factor in bringing the current worldwide economic picture into a more positive position. It’s hard to see negatives in these numbers. While I always like to view the glass as half full, the current long recovery makes me a bit skeptical but optimistic.

1. KPMG reports that during the first quarter of this year $84 billion was spent acquiring 881 companies. That’s the most since the second quarter of 2008. KPMG expects the level of activity to continue.

2. IDC says $21.5 billion was spent on public cloud services in 2010 and that the spending will increase by more than $50 billion over the next four years, for a compound annual growth rate of 27.6 percent. The spending will focus on servers, applications, systems infrastructure software, etc.

3. Gartner reports, worldwide enterprise software revenue will grow by 9.5 percent this year over 2010 – reaching $267 billion. The company is predicting continued growth for each of the next five years.

4. Cisco predicts that by 2015 the number of network-connected devices will total more than 15 billion…twice the world’s population. And traffic will quadruple over the next four years.

5. IDC forecasts that IT spending on the African continent will grow by 10 percent in 2011, reaching $25 billion. South Africa is expected to grow by 7.5 percent, while Egypt will continue to grow rapidly at more than 15 percent and the spending in the rest of Africa will grow at 12 percent.

6. IT services spending in the Asia-Pacific region is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.6 percent over the next four years, according to Ovum.

7. Gartner reports, Eastern Europe saw a 36 percent year-on-year jump in server revenues during the first quarter of this year – the highest percentage globally. Asia-Pacific saw the second strongest growth with 29 percent over the first quarter of 2010.

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