Wednesday, April 13, 2011

China, here we come

It seems ironic that my last post dealt with the issues that foreigners have in grasping command of the English language. And now, it seems, I am to become a foreigner too.
I haven't been on the air much over the past 6 months because I've been backwards and forwards to China several times while working pretty solidly on the launch of a brand new training facility at our office in Shanghai. I'm thrilled with what has come together around that project and the fact that this week marks the launch of our first public course.
While "paid for" training might be a relatively new thing in China, the appetite is very high for quality courses that lift designers to a new level of skill and provide them with a deeper understanding of the methodology driving the creation of Altium's solutions. Our new facility will allow us to help customers better than ever before while also feeding the huge demand for skilled electronics designers as China continues on its massive growth surge.

In other news, you no doubt would have read the news that Altium is relocating its headquarters to Shanghai, China. This has been met with a huge range of responses from customers and industry commentators. Some have suggested that it makes perfect logical sense given the huge investment being made in China in technology areas that are in absolute alignment with Altium's vision to create a "copper to cloud" design tool. But others have been slightly less rational. At the extreme end they've insinuated that Altium's move can only mean that we have lost our way and have been hijacked by Communist antagonists who are planning on overthrowing Western military installations by using Altium Designer as a back door window into the inner sanctums of top-secret design houses.
In all honesty, I've got little time for xenophobic tirades but I do understand the depth of emotion that news such as this can evoke. It is very hard for designers in the West to not feel threatened by Altium's decision. Western designers have been the fortunate benefactors of over a century of manufacturing fueled growth that has led to great relative prosperity. But Altium's decision to locate its headquarters in Shanghai rather than Silicon Valley makes a very strong statement about where it sees the next wave of prosperity coming from. And that statement challenges several assumptions that many in the West have become accustomed to making. But on reflection, do we really believe that the West has some sort of monopoly on innovative design and quality? Do we really believe that our political system somehow gives us the absolute right to create better products?
Now before anyone starts sending volleys of political abuse at me, please take a moment to consider what I'm saying. The way I see it is this: when 1.4 billion people start becoming upwardly mobile, you can choose to stand at the shore and yell at the encroaching tide. Or you can jump right in and ride the wave of your life.
I, for one, am a surfer and my family and I are currently preparing for a move to China.

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