HK must strive to be something special and aim for the gold
In recent years, Hong Kong has been talking a lot about innovation. Politicians and business leaders have been telling us we’re falling way behind our regional competitors in innovation and its “twin brother”, creativity. In response, the government has established a new agency to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
Sometimes, the movement is called “re-industrialization” which seems to resonate better with the older generation who can still remember that their city was once a manufacturing powerhouse in the region.
Hong Kong entrepreneurs have long given up the struggle to build something cheaper than their competitors or incrementally climb the value add ladder. They have found it much more cost effective just to move their manufacturing operations to Shenzhen, while concentrating on making money in finance and property investment.
The new generation entrepreneurs with the ambition to re-industrialize Hong Kong are asked to make something new like their counterparts in Shenzhen, Seoul or Singapore. In this race, Hong Kong is clearly hobbled by a myriad of factors, including high land prices, shortage of skilled workers and, more importantly, a lack of supporting industries, such as molding, foundry and machining.
To overcome these disadvantages, Hong Kong entrepreneurs will have to look beyond catching up with its regional rivals who are not all that innovative anyway. The drones that are often cited to showcase Shenzhen’s innovation are certainly capable. But they are not known to be able to do something so special that will leave their competitors in the dust.
If Hong Kong entrepreneurs are really serious about looking for a model to help shape their business philosophy and strategy, they should look no further than Amazon — the undisputed innovative leader in the global e-commerce marketplace. At a time when even such tech giants as Apple and Microsoft are seen to be slacking, Amazon has continued to wow fans and confound doubters by coming out with innovative services that anticipate rather than merely meeting the expectations of consumers in the many countries where it operates.
The keyword that explains Amazon’s success is “anticipatory” which distinguishes the company from most other e-commerce operators around the world. That’s the word that Hong Kong entrepreneurs should keep in mind in their endeavor to reindustrialize the city.
Let the others crow about their little achievements while we go for the gold.
Hong Kong entrepreneurs should look for a model to differentiate themselves from regional rivals rather than merely cutting costs when it comes to the city’s re-industrialization, and with an eye on long-term development.