Today we took on two company visits: an insurance group and a cell phone manufacturer.
We started by visiting Sunshine Insurance Group, a 13 year old company with very impressive success. Besides their vast success on all levels of relativity and comparison to other companies with similar pasts, what struck me most was their company campus and culture. When we were walking into the campus, me and some friends were talking about how all of their buildings looked identical to those of universities found in Europe. Then, as soon as we got out of the introductory meeting and were touring the campus, our tour guide mentioned that the architect who designed the campus was designing it to be exactly what we had originally thought, a European university. So, I guess he did a good job. Something I found especially interesting is that as they were constructing the campus in Beijing, the company was also building two other campuses that were designed in a cookie cutter manner being that they were exact replicas of the campus we had visited. After touring the beautiful, flourished campus we had a buffet style meal in the company’s cafeteria. The meals have been getting more and more recognizable being that I have been eating similar dishes throughout the entire trip. However, I would have never expected to see pasta accompanies with a smooth tomato sauce. Of course, I had to try their take on a dish that I grown so used to over the course of my lifetime. It was no where near my dad’s excellent homemade sauce, but it also was no bottled grocery store sauce. It was fair medium between the two extremes of excellent and not so good. After eating we were directed back to our bus and were off to Xiaomi, a electronics and software company.
One quick observation from all the bus rides: the architecture in Beijing is much more abstract and beautiful on average in comparison to any American city I have ever been to.
Anyways, we were about 30 minutes early when we made it to Xiaomi. Therefore, we all split into groups and went of to explore the mall that bordered Xiaomi. One thing I had noticed about the mall, and seemingly most other public areas, everything is almost excessively brighter and cleaner than the American counterparts I am used to. Once we made into the company, we sat through a presentation regarding Xiaomi’s supply chain. To me, this was particularly interesting because within the remaining month and a half of the semester my Managing in Complex Environments course went into heavy detail regarding supply chains. Being able to understand the details and apply the lectures was an excellent opportunity. For instance, I asked a question regarding how much of the parts that went into their products had been provided to them via outside suppliers. It was surprising to me that when he had answered my question he told me they rely completely on outside suppliers to provide all of their parts. I had figured that a company of their size would have backwards integrated at some point to begin producing their own parts to save some money. After the presentation and Q&A session, we went back to the mall to one of their stores and were able to interact with all of their products. The store was set up similar to an Apple Store to help you all visualize.
Huwai had recently tried to enter the US market with their electronics products but, the attempt had unfortunately been shut down by our government. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has been in negotiations with the US government and could perhaps start integrating into the US market within, at earliest, the next year. I would be really excited to see how this would affect the current competitive landscape within our smart phone industry. I think with Apple and Samsung’s high brand equity within the US it would be difficult to enter an already developed industry. However, I am really fond of the aesthetics of their products and how they use developed technology in their phones instead of only slightly advancing the technological aspects within each new smart phone release like Apple does. If US consumers could learn to love Xiaomi’s operating system where many consumers have already been stuck to iOS (Apple’s operating system), I think with Xiaomi’s cheap prices they have a shot at shocking the industry.
After many meals of trying completely new dishes, me and some friends sought out a meal at a McDonald’s down the street from our hotel. That night we did not get into much as we had figured a lighter night would be good for us due to have completely full schedules for all of our previous days.
Tomorrow brings on a plethora of different cultural visits. I am looking forward for all the excitement it will bring.