During the formal welcome dinner I asked my host if Linyi was an old city. “No, not at all!” he replied “It’s just 900 years old”. At the same time I was looking out of the window at a large row of skyscrapers, all of them built within the last 7 years. Back in Beijing someone asked me what I was doing in the ‘provincial’ city of Linyi. A bit of a strange comment as in Linyi live about 10M people. These two comments sum up quite well what China is today: a country which thinks and executes on a completely different scale than Europe, a country on the move with global ambitions, friendly people and deep pockets.
By the end of 2013 CIONET got the invitation to attend the “01” World Forum* with two people in Linyi, China, the largest city in the Shandong province and located halfway between Beijing and Shanghai. We invited Maarten Hillenaar, former CIO Dutch Central Government and finalist of the ‘2014 European CIO of the Year’ to join us. The conference was organized by the City of Linyi, the Linyi University, presented as the biggest university in Asia, and a number of organizations including our host Totyu: a Chinese/Japanese IT giant. Linyi already hosts 104 specialized wholesale markets and manages more then 60 thousand brands. Direct export in 2013 was over $ 12.8B with a growth of 687,5% (!).
The aim of this Forum was to present Linyi ’s ambition to become China’s premier Logistics Hub by 2020. The city and its partners have invested in building the required infrastructure: a new harbour, new factories, new distribution centers, a university and an intergrate e-commerce platform, i.e. a smart city as it was presented in a tour around the city. During the conference, which was attended by an international audience of about 600 people, I was struggling somewhat with the translation of the Chinese and Japanese presentations.
Nevertheless, we were pleasently surprised by the message given by all presenters (the government officials, the chairman of Totyu, NTT and NEC): commit to a longterm focus and investment program, invest in true partnerships with all relevant partners in the supply chain, i.e. create a real public private partnerships. We heard two very interesting statements a) share your strategy in public. In China there is nothing wrong with telling the world you see Alibaba or IBM as your example. And b) also in China organizations experience a lack of qualified IT professionals.
We also took the opportunity to meet with the organizers of the ‘World CIO Forum’ which will take place in Beijing by the end this year. This Forum is endorsed by IFIP, an Unesco rooted organization and aims to bring 500 IT executives from around the globe to China. Their question to us was what does it take to attract European CIOs? Foremost the program should be international. But, what is unique about China is something you have to see with your own eyes. I am pleased CIONET is recognized by various Chinese organizations as the hub to the European CIO community and I recommend any CIO to visit China to have a look for yourself.
* “0” and “1” are not only the binary computer codes., “01” is also the homonym of Linyi in Chinese
Frits Bussemaker, Liaison International Relations CIONET & Global Industry Council Director IP3/IFIP