If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the latest issue of MeetingsNet to read about IBM’s success in bringing a strategic meetings management program to China. Paul Wakelin, strategic sourcing specialist with IBM’S Global Travel Council in the U.K., drove the eight-month-long process – and even traveled extensively within China to kick off the program in face-to-face events. MeetingsNet calls him a modern day Marco Polo!
I’m so happy for Paul; I had the good fortune of working with him – discussing ideas on how best to implement IBM’s SMMP in China, I shared with him some of my own experiences in global program deployment during my years at HP Global Procurement. The Chinese marketplace is a unique one, in that all Westernized creativity and ideas for “out-of-the-box” thinking really doesn’t work in China. The Chinese government has rules and regulations that all foreign companies must follow in order to do business in China. That requires some research and sensitivities toward programs, supplier management, policy creation and adherence, etc.
In China and the rest of Asia Pacific, the value of a hand shake, and proper exchange of business cards and polite socialization is critical to any business-to-business relationship and development of that relationship. While most companies today “phone in” or “Webex” program kick-offs and initiatives, that simply doesn’t work in the Asia-Pacific region. In order to get compliance and support not only from internal stakeholders but your supplier-base, one must make a physical appearance, at least initially or at kick-off in order for program deployment to succeed. It’s not even an option to “phone it in.” I shared with Paul my experiences and lessons learned. Together we approached his manager to get budget released for his trip to China to spend time reviewing his SMMP plans and launch with all his local internal stakeholders and most importantly, his local suppliers and NSOs.
His subsequent success in China speaks for itself. I can tell you that anyone wishing to deploy their SMMP or any other initiative in China and Asia-Pacific is going to have to do it the regional way, as any other way is just not going to work. If you want to hear Paul and I talk about SMMP Maturity, we will be doing a session at this year’s ITM Conference 2013 in the U.K., on Wednesday, April 17. We look forward to seeing you there!
Are you expanding your SMMP regionally or globally? Tell us how you’re meeting the challenges that come with differing cultures!