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Made globally
[September 24, 2007]

Made globally

(Business World (Philippines) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Think of a single Chinese product that keeps up the morale of US troops on active duty in Iraq by linking them with their families and friends back home. It also enables environmental scientists to scour the world's rainforests for research. It connects climbers on Mt. Everest, astronauts on NASA space missions, and athletes braving freezing temperatures in the Olympic Winter Games.

If you think no such Chinese product can do all these things, withstand unforgiving conditions and cross physical and political borders, think again.

Lenovo has fast been building a reputation for developing the best- engineered personal computers that support the needs of people even in the most challenging conditions such as war, space exploration and mountain expeditions. Its rock-solid ThinkPad is said to meet demand for durable yet lightweight notebooks, giving users the ability to store and secure information even in the middle of the Amazon.

But to call Lenovo a Chinese company is totally missing its pedigree. In today's world of multi-hyphenated roles, Lenovo CEO William J. Amelio says assessing companies by their nation of origin misses the point.

In fact, looking at Lenovo's intricate corporate history is like tracing the true nationality of Tiger Woods.

Originally known as Legend Group Ltd. and New Technology Developer, Inc., the company was founded in Hong Kong 1984 by 11 engineers, led by a Chinese. The company grew big and eventually split into two entities: Lenovo became the PC manufacturer and Digital China took on the wholesale and distribution of IT products and services.

In 2005, Lenovo bought IBM's PC division for $1.27 billion. As a result, it now has the rights to the iconic ThinkPad. Barely three years since the acquisition, Lenovo has become one of the largest PC manufacturers in the world and now the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.

The regional business is under the helm of Dell's former head in China, David Miller, who is one of the speakers at the 6th Management Association of the Philippines International CEO Conference at the Makati Shangri-La this October 2 to 3.

How Lenovo made it to the big league this fast is a curious example of what happens when East meets West and gives birth to a totally different breed.

The Lenovo CEO serves a good example: "I am an American CEO based in Singapore. Our chairman, who is Chinese, works from North Carolina. Other top executives are based around the globe. A meeting of my company's senior managers looks like the United Nations General Assembly ...

"Lenovo exists in a flat world where there is only one time zone and the strategy is called worldsourcing. The company taps ideas, people, processes, talent, logistics, infrastructure and production wherever they are best available. We must sell wherever profitable markets exist, anywhere in the world," he adds.

All over the world, global companies are slowly waking up to this new world. The emerging realities look like these: * Products of companies that practice worldsourcing may be labelled "Made in Switzerland" or "Made in the USA," but in reality they could more truthfully be labelled as "Made Globally." * A worldsourcing company can work 24 hours a day, following the sun. It can be an Irish in Ireland, Nigerian in Nigeria, Australian in Australia, Chinese in China and Brazilian in Brazil, and American in America. * Worldsourcing trashes the traditional idea of having a corporate headquarters and centralized decision making.

The best thing about worldsourcing? Mr. Amelio says it provides a win- win solution for both consumers and manufacturers everywhere.

With worldsourcing, the world becomes a marketplace where consumers demand product quality and nothing else. It exposes global companies to probing light and criticism, Mr. Amelio says.

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Sunlight that illuminates and unites the farthest corners of the earth disinfects best of all."

(This article is part of a series of features related to the upcoming 6th MAP International CEO Conference.)

Copyright 2007 Business World Publishing Corporation, Source: The Financial Times Limited

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