Chinese Technology Company, Huawei, Wants to Build a Better Connected World

If  you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I have a passion for technology. I’ve had a tech podcast for almost 10 years and I know that by adopting proven advances, we can all grow our businesses by applying the new innovations.

I was approached by a company from China, Huawei Technologies, to attend their Cloud Conference in Shanghai; Huawei Connect 2106. Shanghai? Isn’t that in the People’s Republic of China? I’m a fairly adventurous traveler, but that’s behind the “great firewall.” My curiosity about this company and country drew me to accept the trip and do some serious research.

Admittedly, Chinese culture was never high on my reading list. I couldn’t go to China without doing some reading. Much of my attitudes about the Chinese and their technology changed when I read a book, The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World by Shaun Rein (a good read for those who want to learn more about the changes in China).

It seems that in the past twenty years Chinese consumers have experienced a cultural shift. The people no longer yearn to own copies of world class brands, they want quality goods and they’d prefer them to be made in China. There is an ongoing shift in strategy from imitation to producing real innovation.

Today all businesses operate in a global environment, so I think it’s time to let go of our fears of the unknown. In every country there are government regulations, tax breaks, subsidies, low-interest loans, and government contracts. Even diplomats help out when it comes to global commerce. Without being political, I think it’s also safe to say that most governments also have their fingers where they don’t belong when it comes to business. Suffice it to say that I feel that transparency and mutual cooperation in trade and technology would go a long way.

Around 2010, our media (and government) went to great lengths to discredit Huawei over security concerns. Ken Hu, (now one of three rotating CEOs of Huawei), wrote an open letter to the United States, taking a stand against what he believed was an unfair perception of the company. You can read it here.

In 2012 the anxiety over cyber backdoors culminated in a Federal Investigation on security issues posed by Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE. In the end nothing was proved, but more warnings about what “could” happen. It also managed to put a stop to a deal between Huawei and an American telecom.

It seems that none of this is easy, and trust is most difficult. There are economic and political forces afoot way above my pay grade. So all I could do is try to understand our cultural differences and goals. What follows is some of what I learned.

Who is Huawei?

We tend to think we “know” our industry? Here is a multi-national, private company founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei and five friends in a garage that I never really heard of. From what I read of its founding, I picture Mr. Zhengfei and his cohorts assembling telecom units the way we used to build computers at home to sell. Fast forward to 2015, they reported $60.8 billion in annual revenue worldwide; which represents an increase of 37% year over year. Pretty astounding.

The company was started on a small budget and is now number 129 on the Fortune Global 500 list. Today they are a worldwide leader (170 countries) in information and communications technology; they’ve built about half the world’s LTE networks.

The company is divided, as many US companies (like IBM) are, into three units. These internally are called BGs – or Business Groups – who represent different markets: Carrier, Enterprise and Consumer (where they’re now popularizing and building their brand). They each operate independently. Consumer products like smartphones, mobile broadband and home devices are a growing market.

After leading the world in telecom infrastructure, the Cloud and Consumer markets are the next step.

Huawei is the world’s third largest manufacturer of smartphones. They shipped 108 million units in 2015, and as of Q2 this year 60.5 million. The top three smartphone manufacturers’ market share globally is Samsung 22.4%, Apple 11.8% and Huawei at 9.4%. In an executive briefing with Huawei Technologies Chief strategy marketing officer, William Xu, referred to catching the bronze medal and modestly remarked that the gap between number one and number two was so big. If you check out this interactive chart from Statista showing quarterly market changes since 2009, you’ll see that Huawei seems to be closing fast on the competition.   

The way I see it, their foray into the United States consumer market with smartphones is a smart strategy. Phones seem a lot less intimidating then telecommunications systems and will give them a chance to build their brand. The world (especially Americans) want phones that are not tethered to carriers and they offer many. I reviewed their flagship P9 phone (with dual Leica cameras) on my #techradio podcast and find it to be one of the best phones I have used to date. Huawei just released their Honor series and have sold 1.5 million units in the first two months since release on July 19, 2016.

William Xu honestly laid down the basics of what people want in a smartphone today. “It is about the camera and the battery life. At Huawei we launched our smartphone with dual cameras which can take really high-quality pictures, especially at night. For that specific model we did not choose a very big battery life. We sacrificed something customer cares very much about. In the past, in the previous models, Mate 7 and Mate 8, the battery life are very big so that there's no need to carry a portable charger.'
"Today, in our technology innovation, we try to focus on the areas the customer cares the most.” ~ William Xu
Huawei got to where they are by spending a bundle on research and development. According to their 2015 annual report, they invested 15% of revenue $9.2 billion, clearly outspending Apple’s 8.1 billion investments. This enabled them to become the world leader in patent applications. Internationally, Patents are filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This does not grant a patent, but is the opening step to filing patents within the various member countries. Huawei filed the most technology applications in the year 2015, a staggering 3,898 applications; with Qualcomm in second position with 2,442.

Company Culture

When it comes to culture, there are many differences and as many similarities. Huawei has a rotating CEO program where three key executives spend an allotted time each year running the company; making changes to the business direction based on the current environments.

During the conference and in person, Huawei executives continually repeated their devotion to customer-centric culture; it was a recurring theme that I could not ignore. Although the phrase has become commonly used these days; they don’t just talk about it, they deliver it. In the aforementioned briefing with William Xu, he said “Customer centricity is firmly rooted in the mindset of our employees, and the management and executives.” Further, “We want to shake hands with the world and build an ecosystem. “

This is a long standing refrain within the company. Previously in 2011, CEO Ken Hu stressed this mantra: "To succeed in emerging markets today, companies need to focus on the concept of 'glocalization' – combining their globalization efforts with local insights and considerations. This means having keen insight into each market's unique social and economic environment by truly understanding its customers' core needs. Only then will companies be able to create the innovative business models necessary to win over customers."

What I heard and what I saw in my few days with Huawei, made me believe that they have a solid understanding of what it takes to succeed in today's technology market.

To this end, Microsoft and Huawei recently joined to publish an ICT (information and communications technology) Cybersecurity Buyer’s guide through the East West Institute. It's readily available and you can read it here. To quote the guide, five main principles are set out:
  • Maintain an open market that fosters innovation and competition and creates a level playing field for ICT providers. 
  • Create procurement practices that utilize fact-driven, risk informed, and transparent requirements based on international standards and approaches. 
  • Avoid requirements or behavior that undermine trust in ICT (e.g., by installing back doors). 
  • Evaluate the practices of ICT providers in terms of creating product and service integrity. 
  • Create and use tools and approaches to address risk and assign high value to cybersecurity investments.
This entire experience got me thinking. It’s time for us all to think globally – as well as locally. Enterprise-level security governance is the first step. Let’s just hope that this is the beginning of new inroads to collaboration and understanding between all the tech giants.

FTC disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies from which I believe my readers will benefit. I have not received payment from Huawei, but did accept a trip to their conference. All thoughts and viewpoints are mine. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


10 Strategies That Guarantee You More Profit on eBay and eCommerce Sales

I'm very proud that the ninth edition of eBay For Dummies has published. This fully revised edition is based on the previous editions and my 20 years buying and selling on eBay. My store is open every day that I am in town and I ship items to buyers every week.

Selling on eBay can be a way to make a part time or full time living. For me, eBay sales enabled my daughter and I to run a business together and to subsidize the many things we needed when she was growing up. I even paid for her college tuition with eBay sales. She graduated debt free.

Here are a few tips - although this short post can't begin to get into the depth of the full book - it will give you a taste of what you'll find (there's even a chapter on how to source low cost items for selling)!
  1. Research first: When listing a new item, research it online (not just on eBay) and be sure that you know its current value and the going price. If it’s a collectible, find out as much as you can about the item’s importance, history, and condition. (The book gives you places to look).
  2. Figure out shipping: Before listing an item for sale, weigh your item and estimate the shipping cost. If it’s not cost effective to offer Free Shipping, accurately represent shipping costs in your listing whether you use a flat rate or the shipping calculator for heavier packages.
  3. Get a discount on your USPS shipping: Print your postage electronically and get the Commercial Base price. This way you can charge your postage to your credit card in order to keep a separate record (for taxes) of your shipping costs. Click here for these features and get a 60 day trial of Endicia Internet Postage.
  4. Answer eBay messages quickly: Questions from prospective bidders and buyers should be answered within 24 hours, and when running auctions, check your messages hourly the day before the close. (Doing so can pay off in higher last-minute bidding.) Good customer service goes a long way in promoting and building your eBay business.
  5. Do people want your item: Double-check to see how many other sellers are selling your item (and for how much). Also, check "sold listings" to see how much people are actually paying). eBay is a supply-and-demand marketplace. When too many people are selling the same item, the price may go down. If you decide not to sell right now, save a search on eBay for the item so you will be notified when new items that match yours are listed on the site.
  6. Follow the rules: Verify that your item isn’t counterfeit, prohibited or considered questionable by eBay. If you’re in doubt, read eBay’s guidelines and check your local laws.
  7. Add lots of pictures: eBay lets you post 12 photos for free, so add multiple pictures to make your listing more attractive and search friendly. Shoot closeups; show every possible angle.
  8. Write a title that sells: Be sure that your title highlights the item’s keywords — adjectives get you nowhere.
  9. Descriptions make a difference: When writing your description, be direct, informative, and concise. This shows potential buyers that you’re honest and easy to work with. Also be sure to fill in as many item specifics as you can, including EAN, UPC, MPN, Brand, and/or ISBN to assure better placement in search.
  10. The eBay mobile app is feature full: Stick to the basics and when on your smartphone, use the app to price items when you’re out and about.To see all the features of the app, tap the “hamburger button” (three parallel horizontal lines) on the top-left corner to reveal an easy-to-navigate menu (shown above), which gives you many options. If you list via the app, be sure to double check how your item looks on a computer later and make any necessary changes to make it more attractive.
I know the book will give you what you need to know to start making profits online. You can find it by clicking the link below. You'll find reviews on Amazon, or check out this post from Margie Clayman: eBay for Dummies: Teaching Through Stories


Denting the Universe with NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman

Attending the Dent conference can be a life altering experience and I've been lucky enough to be present for the past two years. Dent is an invitation-only gathering held once a year in Sun Valley, ID for people who want to "put a dent in the universe," as Steve Jobs once said. It was founded by Jason Preston and Steve Broback, two forward thinking visionaries that have changed the landscape of technology for over twenty years.

At this year's conference, I had the honor of interviewing NASA Astronaut, Catherine Grace "Cady" Coleman about her career in space. This interview was a prelude to the announcement of Dent: Space. The first Dent: Space conference will be held in San Francisco on September 21st through 23rd, 2016.

I had some interesting questions for Cady. Watch the short thirty minute video where you'll learn about calluses in space, UFOs, CAPCOMs, the Journey to Mars, Space X, and the NASA Space Apps Challenge.  If you prefer, the full transcript is after the jump.

MC: Cady Coleman is an astronaut, can you tell? Because she has all the badges and everything which makes her absolutely official! Cady has over a 180 days in space (accumulated over two space with Shuttle missions), a six-month expedition with the International Space Station; she launched and landed aboard the Soyuz Russian spacecraft, she acted as the lead robotics and Science Officer during her tenure abroad the ISS and you performed a second ever free flyer robotic capture from the ISS. Presently, you are astronaut and innovation lead at NASA’s Office at Chief Technologist. Are you the Chief Technologist? 


Thoughts on International Women’s Day #OneDayIWill

International Women’s Day is March 8, and Google is encouraging women everywhere to share their aspirations that day on social media using the hashtag, #OneDayIWill.

The team from Google Doodle reached out to see it I wanted to be part of of the day, but I had to come up with a single aspiration. This, as a friend said, is a problem that happens too rarely. What could I possibly say that would, in one Tweetable sentence, say everything I wish for women everywhere?

I asked friends. I asked my daughter who works at a University. I asked millennials (thinking perhaps they had a better line on this than me). No one's input expressed exactly how I feel. There's no way I could be snarky. This had to be real. 

So, after a weekend of thinking and writing lots of notes; it was time to turn in my aspiration - for women everywhere.

After watching the Academy Awards, it came to me. It seemed like there weren't enough women represented. Where are the women ready to take on the projects that will be honored by the Academy?