Working at AsiaInfo, it stands to reason that I would promote China as a centre of innovation.
It would be remiss if I didn’t believe that China was leading the way in the mobile Internet; creating credible – and, more importantly, profitable – solutions to the challenges operators in the West are now facing.
I put my hands up: I’m bias.
But the facts speak for themselves. China may have grown into a technology powerhouse by following the example of the West, but the country is now carving out its role as a global leader in mobile Internet; setting trends in telecommunications, mobile devices and social commerce.
And it is starting to feel like our industry is finally waking up to China’s influence, having written the country off as a Shanzhai – “copycat” – nation for far too long.
At AsiaInfo we see the tired, old stereotype of China as a ‘follow fast’ market perpetuated on a daily basis. In reality, it is a hugely outdated image, as China has, in many ways, defined markets like search, commerce, social, entertainment, while the nation is light years ahead in mobile, having already tackled many of the challenges that operators in Europe are now facing.
The Operator/ OTT challenge
There is one challenge that has proved particularly tough for operators – and that is what to do about the over the top players (OTTs). This is a well-worn subject but one that operators in the West have, in many cases, refrained from tackling head on.
Not so in China. We may finally be starting to get on top of this challenge in the West – or, at least, we’re certainly talking about getting on top of it – but China has been there and done it already. They are a market that we can really learn from in that respect.
China Telecom is a good example. The company recognised the threat faced by the OTTs long before many of its counterparts. China Telecom knew it had to turn this threat into an opportunity, and saw serious merit in partnering with these players, and reselling converged products into the marketplace. It was a hunch that paid off – the incremental value added to China Telecom’s bottom line has been vast.
This week AsiaInfo was recognised for its role in modernizing China Telecom’s approach, with a Telecoms.com award for ‘OTT Service Launch of 2014’. By successfully implementing AsiaInfo’s Veris Open Operational Platform (O2P) China Telecom has turned a growing threat into a genuine opportunity, and placed itself right at the heart of the digital value chain.
Europe and the rest of the world will need to keep a close eye on China’s innovations because as well as threats, they will bring with them opportunities – including ideas that may just be worth copying.