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Cross-border software solutions

Danyll Wills

WITH A LOT OF Hong Kong companies, particularly smaller ones, trying to work out ways to do business with the explosive economy up north, IT is likely to feature strongly in their plans.

This is the view of Microsoft and its director of small and mid-market solutions and partners in Hong Kong, Herman Lam, who believes the scenario will present an opportunity for those with software solutions to fit this need.

'With the evolution of cross-border business in the Greater China region and the introduction of Cepa [Closer Economic Partnership Arrangemet], we see an increasing demand for unique requirements, including the need for procurement, services and support across multiple locations/sites within the Greater China countries, and also the need for multiple language support and distribution of software across multiple sites,' he said.

Microsoft has traditionally been a strong partner for the small businessman, and it clearly wants to be there as the region expands.

'We have established a Greater China cross-border division which will support the growing number of Hong Kong businesses with investment in the PRC with a 'one-stop-service' for procurement, services, training and support of software solutions,' he said.

Microsoft is in a good position for this, considering its monopoly of the desktop. But it will face competition from Linux.

The Linux community, despite its great promise, however, is weak at getting useable applications to market. Nevertheless, Microsoft knows it cannot relax, despite its position. The numbers are impressive.

Mr Lam said reports show there are more than 50,000 Taiwanese and about 20,000 Hong Kong companies with operations on the mainland.

'Our customers and partners are telling us that they are putting more investment on IT in order to reap the benefits arising from these cross-border business opportunities. They see that technology has played or can play a significant role in helping cross-border companies better manage their business,' he said.

It is likely compromises will have to be made to accommodate different technologies and different ways of doing things. But it would benefit all if IT investment followed standards in such a way that these issues don't become major problems.