During yesterday’s summit, local government officials described their vision and expectation that Suzhou would lead the way in transforming China’s economy from low-end services to high-end service outsourcing. This morning, the Delegation had the opportunity to see just how Suzhou plans to achieve this lofty goal.
After checking out of the beautiful Dushu Lake Hotel, the Delegation boarded buses to travel to several of Suzhou’s industrial parks. The one we visited was the Suzhou Industrial Park Institute of Services Outsourcing (SISO), which is a full-time public higher education institute. SISO’s first classes began in 2008 with only 180 students. Now, about 4 years later, the school has over 3,000 students.
SISO has 5 departments (1) Information Technology; (2) Business & Management; (3) Finance; (4) Digital Media; and (5) General Education. A Nanotechnology Department is being added and classes are scheduled to begin this fall. The educational programs within each department are designed for the Outsourcing industry. Additionally, the facility of SISO is composed of a mix of national and non-national engineers with industry background. Approximately 90% of the faculty has their Masters or Doctorate degrees. SISO’s education ideology is “Borderless Mindset” and the teaching values are “Commitment, Creativeness, Cooperativeness and Conduct”. The school motto is “Diligence, Applicability, Practice and Innovation”. The first group of SISO students just recently graduated and amazingly, achieved 100% employment.
The Delegation was given a tour through an animation class that was in session. Upon entering the classroom, the first thing I immediately noticed was how each student was wearing an identical blue blazer. SISO requires each student to wear the blue blazer when attending class. They are free to wear whatever else they desire, but must wear the jacket.
The next thing I noticed was that the students were sitting at long glass tables, in front of their own computer screen. They did not have any books, paper or pens. They simply had their computer, a mouse and a stylus pen. The students sat in their chairs, deeply focused on their computer screens, engrossed in their animation projects. Some of the animation that the students were working on was simply amazing and extremely sophisticated (i.e. designing and rotating 3D graphics). Even more impressive was the fact that this animation class was a freshman level course.
The second stop was the Suzhou International Science-Park, specifically, to the Suzhou International Science-Park Data Center (SISDC). Interestingly, not only is SISDC founded by the Suzhou government but has also received substantial funding from IBM. SISDC aims to provide: (1) integrated data service platforms for medium and small high-tech enterprises in Suzhou; (2) support platforms for e-governments and digital cities; and (3) data outsourcing platforms for Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO)/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and financial back offices.
SISDC is very proud of the fact that it has a computer room constructed in accordance with Tier IV International standards and that its design was certified by Uptime USA. Data center tier standards exist to evaluate the quality and reliability of a data center’s server hosting ability. There are four tiers with four being the highest rating. The goal of SISDC is to be the first green data center in China
During the visit, I learned that SISDC has a very unique way of describing their corporate culture. Specifically, it is described as being like: (1) the “wind” – meaning as speedy as the wind; (2) the “forest” – meaning to be as compact as the forest; (3) “fire” – meaning as aggressive as fire; and (4) the “mountain” – meaning as firm as a mountain.
The next stops on the tour were the Suzhou Science & Technology Town (SSTT), the biomedical engineering park (also known as MedPark) and Suzhou New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (SND).
A very nice buffet lunch was served to the Delegation at a local hotel after the tour of the SND. The buffet contained some very unique items from across several different cultures (Chinese, Japanese and Muslim). I experienced some firsts, namely, Kettle Cooked Bullfrog, chicken feet and pig ears.
After lunch, the Delegation made their way via bus to Pudong Airport to catch a flight to Wuhan. On the way, several in the Delegation noticed that the sky was getting darker. I turned to my colleague Justin Alden, from Wanno Capital LLC., and said, “Justin, I think it’s gonna rain”. Justin looked out the window and turned to me and smiled and said, “Nope, that’s just the pollution.” And yes, Justin was right. It was the pollution. Several of us in the Delegation have been commenting on how each and every day the morning seems to start out bright and sunny but by mid-day the pollution rolls in and the sky gets very gray. I have never experienced pollution like I have thus far in China.
For those of you wondering about Wuhan, it is the capital of Hubei province, and is one of the largest and most important cities in China. Specifically, it is recognized as the political, economic, financial, cultural, educational, and transportation center of Central China. In China, Wuhan ranks fourth in population and third in science and technology.
Tomorrow begins the 6th Wuhan Service Outsourcing Industry Development and Cooperation International Forum.
Delegate Spotlight: Sandy Forbes from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Sandy is the Director of Information Technology & Sustainability for Vancity. Sandy’s responsibilities involve ensuring that the IT infrastructure for Vancity is stable, secure and sustainable. Sandy has placed particular emphasis on sustainability in his role as Director for Vancity. He has introduced a number of new innovative programs to facilitate and improve Vancity’s sustainability. First, Sandy replaced the traditional trash cans in the office with significantly smaller sized trash cans. Although unpopular at first, this measure has contributed significantly to the reduction of waste in the company. Second, he instituted an active composting program. As a result, Vancity now composts all of their organic matter – everything from banana peels, to tea bags, to coffee cups, etc. The composting program includes the use of compost bins on each floor that the cleaning staff removes while cleaning at night. Third, Sandy is establishing a sky or roof top garden on the company premises. The sky garden is being implemented in two phases. The first phase involves providing enough green space for the staff. The second phase involves developing a sustainable garden that Vancity will use to attract local farmers to come and grow crops to then sell to the local community. Fourth, in connection with their servers, Vancity partnered with BC Hydroelectric to identify opportunities to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. As a result of this program, the company went from 250 servers to just 5 servers. Sandy’s efforts have helped Vancity to be able to realize a cost savings of 35% per year and have reduced its carbon footprint by 7%.
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