As the man responsible for Microsoft’s enterprise services department in Greater China, Aaron Shin will be coordinating the provision of tech support and internal computing systems for the Beijing Olympic Games organizing committee (BOCOG). He spoke to CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW about the challenges involved in building a system for a large-scale event and offered insights into Microsoft’s strategy for its enterprise software products.
Q : What do you do for BOCOG?
A : Atos is the prime contractor for the Olympics. We’re working to help them be successful as the prime contractor. We are not only the software vendor; we also fully support BOCOG and Atos with solutions.
Q : What challenges are involved in creating systems for the Olympics?
A : If you look at the size of the Olympics in Beijing, it’s 28 competitions broken down into 302 events. There are at least 60 big stadiums; you have more than 200 countries; there are 300,000 athletes. The [live] audience will be more than 9 million people. So the scale of this event is much bigger than any [previous] Olympics event. [At] this scale, the efficiencies and complexities, the requirements, are complicated. We started our services in 2007 to prepare for all this. Both Atos and Microsoft are confident that we can make these complicated systems work.
Q : Many of your clients are large state-owned firms like PetroChina and China Mobile. Are you interested in smaller companies as well?
A : Absolutely. We have a dedicated group in Microsoft China to build the partner and channel ecosystem for small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers.
Q : Is it difficult to sell these SMEs enterprise services?
A : If we talk about SMEs in China, number-wise they’re huge. They may not have a rich IT investment budget to call upon vendors to help them implement complicated ERP (enterprise resource planning) or CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
Q : How do you get around this problem?
A: We also work with the telecom operators and the local value-added software companies to provide hosting services. You can have IT solutions hosted on a central platform providing all these hosted services and solutions to SMEs. If they want to implement solutions on their own premises, our partners can help them. If they feel like, ‘Hey, we simply don’t have a big enough IT budget to host services in our own environment,’ they can work with our partner, and the telecom operator, on the hosted services.
Q : So you’re not worried about low-cost competitors like Ufida or Kingdee?
A : No, we are partners. I think competition is good. It creates benefits for the user community. It helps the user community to pick which vendors are providing the necessary benefits to maximize their potential. It’s the community’s choice.
Q : You’ve had local governments like the city of Qingdao as clients before. What are their main concerns?
A : They want to have a secure platform. Security is the number one thing they think about. Then process efficiency, integration between different departments and applications. Those are their top needs.
Q : The central government hasn’t been very friendly to Microsoft in the past but now that seems to have changed. Has this historic suspicion come up at all when you speak with government clients?
A : Microsoft is a global company and we have a mission to realize either government or enterprise customers’ potential. We’re quite open; in many of our platforms we provide [tools] to help other systems integrate with each other. Our main goal is to provide a better solution that specifically addresses our customers’ needs. It’s certainly [their] choice. If they feel we can fulfill our commitment and truly maximize their potential, we’re happy to see such a win-win situation.