Tag Archives: silicon valley

IT界男女平衡 構建更強團隊 (經濟日報-Smart World 23.7.2015)

HKET IT Gender Diversity

 

 

 

 

IT界男女平衡 構建更強團隊

美國矽谷對於性別多樣化(Gender Diversity)十分重視,並積極提倡公司男女人數平衡,減低兩極化現象。

根據最近美國 Babson College的研究顯示,由風險投資支持的公司只有15﹪有一位以上女性管理層,而女性CEO更少於3﹪,只有6﹪風險投資公司合夥人是女性。另一研究顯示多樣化(Diversity)的意見及角度能得出更好的商業決定,為股東產生更高價值 。

筆者在香港資訊科技及通訊界工作超過十年,穿梭大小公司,遇到九成九的IT人都是男性,難得有一兩位女技術人員,通常會令人「刮目相看」。有女開發者(Developer)分享:「通常參加創業活動,認識新朋友時,首先他們會感到驚訝及懷疑你是否真正開發者, 跟著便會質疑你編寫程式的能力,到最後如果你能顯示兩下『功架』,那他們便會拍掌讚賞你。」

相反如果你是男開發者,他們會認為這通通都是基本技巧,「你沒理由不懂,沒甚麼特別」 這反映甚麼呢?

女細心謹慎 男邏輯結構強

雖然女性在職場的晉升機會相比以前多了,但過往長時期的聘請習慣及社會不知不覺的偏見(unconsciouss bias) 仍然普遍,尤其在IT界更甚,老闆一般覺得男性編碼能力及技術比較強,所以喜歡聘請男性。如果你是女性,技術程度容易被看低一綫。

與一眾開發者傾談,基本上同意在技術層面男女分別不大,但普遍女性比較細心謹慎,男性邏輯結構比較強,寫出來的編碼各有優點,所以多元化的團隊可互補不足。

老闆應以客觀標準衡量工作能力及表現,亦應留意各人晉升階梯是否一樣,這能建構更多元化、更強的團隊,產生更大的競爭優勢。

(文章只代表個人立場)

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2015年7月23日 

創業路難 努力今天 (eZone 13.11.14)

Google_EYE_program

創業路難 努力今天

由Google及中大創業研究中心舉辦的Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE Program)最後選上6間香港初創企業,並於上月尾完成了美國矽谷的終極體驗之旅,跳出香港,走入「科技創新之源」。

五天行程非常緊密,除了到Google總部「尋幽探秘」外,更到訪多個知名創業培育計劃(Accelerator Program)及協作工作社(Co-working Space),最重要是有機會向成功創業家取經,以及最後在矽谷投資者面前推銷自己的公司及產品!以上活動不但這些香港初創企業有所得著,筆者隨行數天也有所「觀察」。

1)多元文化

在美國矽谷,初創企業喜歡亦十分容易找到不同種族、文化背景及思想模式的人一起創業,因為他們相信「擦出火花」比「融洽和諧」更重要,企業需要多角度思維及多樣化的創新意見,對於面向國際市場的企業尤其重要。相反,在香港也許因為文化背景及價值不同,創業者通常比較喜歡找和自己性格、背景及理念差不多的人一同創業,相對地團隊的思維會較單一。

2)暢所欲言

美國矽谷的創業家隨時隨地暢所欲言,不論是業務行情或新點子,因為他們相信聽取多些「異己意見」,有助優化新點子,業務策略變得的更好,更重要是別人在「局外人」看一定比局中人看得更清楚。他們不怕你抄襲,因為意念往往不是重點,重點是真正執行的實力。

3)人人talk得

在矽谷遇過的創業家,幾乎所有都talk得、sell得同present得。曾經遇到一位「創辦人」,有關業務發展也好,技術層面也好,問甚麼也答得頭頭是道,最後收到他的咭片才發覺他是 ﹣ Developer (程式設訊員)!talk得未必做得到或做得好,但至少賺了好感,利多於敝。

至於香港人最可貴之處就是獅子山精神 ﹣刻苦耐勞、勤奮X搏及自強不息,跟上述6間EYE Program中選企業理念一致。日間要趕行程、周圍走,晚上又要構思及練習pitching,每天只睡幾小時,明天一早又要上路了。

香港的初創企業與美國矽谷相比,仍有進步空間。創業路漫長,今天的努力未必立刻看見成果,但今天種下的種子,必成就未來的成功。

原文刊於eZone848 201411月13日

 

Can Alibaba topple the Silicon Valley giants? (CNN – Vitual think tank 19.9.2014)

Can Alibaba topple the Silicon Valley giants?
By Ping Wong, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Ping Wong is an information technology and communications professional with more than 10 years’ experience, specializing in business development and marketing in Hong Kong. She is currently Secretary-General of Internet Society Hong Kong. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ping Wong.

(CNN) – Internet giant Alibaba secured its place in history Thursday as the largest U.S.-listed initial public offering (IPO) of all time.

Alibaba, which achieved more than $240 billion in gross merchandise volume last year – more than that of Amazon and eBay combined — has become one of the largest technology companies in the world.

That Alibaba is a Chinese company has important implications and begs the question: Will China become the next Silicon Valley, a breeding ground for the next generation of technology giants?

Silicon Valley has long led the world in the quality, quantity and diversity of technology startups it incubates. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have flourished under Silicon Valley’s mature and complete startup ecosystem, with its open and free market and culture and innovative environment.

The picture is quite different in Asia where thus far, only a few large technology companies have emerged. Alibaba,Tencent and Xiaomi were not nurtured in a Silicon Valley type environment, but they are successful examples from the unique Chinese market.

Opportunities

With more than 1.3 billion people, China is not only the world’s largest country, but also its biggest consumer market. Home to a huge number of factories, manufacturers, suppliers and customers, China is also called the “World’s Factory.” This unique demand and supply environment helps reduce businesses’ transaction costs and, indirectly, retail prices, creating a world of opportunities for entrepreneurs from China and abroad.

Often called the “Amazon of China,” Alibaba’s business model is in fact completely different from that of the online retail giant. Alibaba’s Taobao is not in itself an online shop but an open eCommerce platform where millions of small businesses and suppliers can sell directly to individual or business customers.

Unlike Amazon, which charges commissions on transactions, Alibaba does not incur administrative charges on sellers or buyers; instead, it offers sellers paid advertising opportunities that will allow their products to stand out among the thousands of others on the platform. Alibaba’s success stems from its huge traffic and competitive retail prices.

This competitive weapon piggybacks on another factor: Chinese customers are the most active online shoppers in the world, shopping an average of 8.4 times online each month, far outpacing American customers, who shop 5.2 times.

Repeated transactions by these customers contribute significantly to a steady sales volume and to Alibaba’s success in China.

Everything to know about Alibaba

Challenges

Opportunities come with challenges. The greatest challenge for entrepreneurs in China is the protection of intellectual property. Taobao is flooded with defective and counterfeit products: 82% of products labeled with the Columbia brand on Taobao are fakes, and the brand has had to get up to 3,000 listings taken down a month.

This is a rather unique problem in China, unlikely to be found in other parts of the world.

China is a separate world where one can thrive only with a good knowledge about the rules of the game.

Without a strong legal system, copyright infringement is becoming a natural tendency. Unless a product is very difficult to duplicate, it is likely to be copied in China. These skillful and efficient perpetrators make such convincing cloned products that they often surpass the original on many levels. In a way, this is stifling creativity and innovation — innovations are being copied, rather than respected and protected.

In addition, government policies such as taxation and embargoes may be changed or imposed at anytime, without reasonable explanation and without channels or methods of reverting the decision. Any such unexpected policy changes may have significant impact on businesses, and are interpreted as one of the biggest risk factors of doing business in China.

Despite adequate talent and capital, the closed market prevents local businesses from competing globally. Business owners who are not Chinese or do not have local connections face a much greater risk of failure.

Because of the reasons above, I don’t believe it is realistic to compare China to Silicon Valley. Rather, it can be described as “a separate world” where one can thrive only with a good knowledge about the rules of the game.

Alibaba is an example of a company that has achieved a “cultural fit” in China. But whether Alibaba or other homegrown Chinese technology companies can hold their place in the competitive global market, or surpass the Silicon Valley-bred giants, remains to be seen.

Original article was published on《CNN – Virtual think tank》on 19 Sep 2014

 

美矽谷管理思維 香港應學 (經濟日報 13.9.2014)

HKET Matthew Prince Cloudfare Talk article

美矽谷管理思維  香港應學

佔領中環「6.22 投票」系統在十日內遭受黑客前所未有的攻擊,主要全力抵擋的幕後功臣是美國網絡服務供應商Cloudflare。

 

Clouldfare的共同創辦人兼行政總裁Matthew Prince應香港互聯網協會邀請,於8月中首次在香港公開演說如何通宵應戰、如何抵抗一天內接收高達2.5億次DNS查詢(相等於 Google 任何一刻的數量),這「十日圍城」震驚業界的網絡世界大戰,精彩絕輪。

 

重視技術人才  才有頂尖產品
故事背後,你會問為什麼當其他大公司以種種理由而退出時,這間只得百人以下的公司可有此能耐,成功擊退超級黑客?Matthew分享了幾點矽谷管理新思維,香港公司高層或初創企業可作參考。

技術人才為先 ﹣ Matthew的團隊正在考慮在亞洲開設辦事處,當然也是香港與新加坡之爭。新加坡一「收到風」Cloudflare有意在亞洲設辦事處,政府立即聯絡Matthew並以「銀彈攻勢」利誘,誠意十足,但香港政府仍是「無。動。靜」,是動作太慢還是「收唔到風」?

 

Matthew稱他們首要考慮選址的因素是人才,因為公司的產品服務是以技術為核心主導,需要聘請最頂尖的技術人才加入團隊,「有頂尖的人才,才有頂尖的產品,我們不會搶其他競爭者的員工,因為他們只懂得複製同一樣的產品,但我們要更創新思維。」可見對技術人才的高度重視及渴求。

 

供免費服務  累積實戰經驗
免費商業模式 ﹣95﹪的客戶是免費用戶,為什麼那麼浪費資源呢?公司提供免費服務的主要原因是優化產品,累積團隊實戰經驗。因為是免費服務,所以可以吸引到不同種類的客戶,客戶來自不同國家、行業、組織等等,他們所遇到的問題完全不同,從過程中團隊可以學習如何應付千奇百怪、林林總總的攻擊,豐富了團隊的技術知識庫,這是無價的。

 

堅持中立  可贏取各方信任

另外,免費客戶通常要求不高,亦願意試新功能及產品,所以產品測試均由免費客戶開始,亦即成了新產品的「白老鼠」。基於以往幫助免費客戶排難解困的經驗,那就可安心地應用於付費客戶身上,主要為投資銀行、大企業及大集團等,所以5﹪的付費客戶已足以令公司賺錢。
持中立 ﹣雖然業務時常服務政治組織,但堅持無分敵我,有求必應,例如從哈馬斯到以色列、烏克蘭的親俄與親歐陣營都有提供支援,所以好多時團隊能目擊「自己客打自己客」的有趣情景。

 

更有一次來自美國白宮的指令,要求關掉黑客公開敏感資料的網站,因為網站正好是公司的客戶,但Matthew堅持除非獲法院授權要求,否則恕難從命,他表明互聯網應是資訊自由流通的平台,不應無理作過濾或預設立場,甚至如果反香港民主組織要求支援,他們都一樣會出手。就是他們堅持中立,才可以獲得各方的信任及支持。

最令筆者佩服的是在3個鐘的講座分享裏,Matthew沒有用任何一張slide,全程一個人的Talk Show,但沒有一刻冷場,觀眾十分投入,那種「Talk得Present得」的說話絕技,絕對是香港的管理高層及創業者需要學習的。

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2014年9月13日