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FreePint BlogChina - Macroeconomic and M&A - A VIP Editorial

Monday, 13th June 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Benjamin B. Sargent

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It seems like every few weeks now that a client or the media shows up in my office (or virtually at my web desk) asking a question about trends or events in China that requires a detailed response. Thankfully, data sources for the People’s Republic of China − once hard to find and difficult to use − have come a long way in recent years. However the volume and variety of information is a challenge to track. In a famous Chinese folk tale five Chinese brothers each possess a unique talent that allows them to accomplish great feats. I feel like the one who must swallow the ocean − an ocean of data, in this case.

With its population topping 1.3 billion, PRC data comes from more than 20 provinces, over two dozen if you count Beijing, Shanghai and two other “shi” or municipalities. In my line of work we often deal with web and audience data. The challenge is not to make assumptions about how it might be similar or different from other regions, or the same region a few years back or a few years ahead. Literacy now exceeds 90% in China and government data puts the total number of internet users at 457 million as of January 2011, up 19.1% in the past year. The number of Chinese speakers online in China has outpaced the total number of native English speakers online from all countries. But PRC technology adoption follows a different path from in the West, with two-thirds of its online consumers accessing internet services also or exclusively via mobile devices. Nine out of 10 digital consumers communicate on instant messaging compared with only half that use email. Solid data sources help researchers understand how and why things are different.

While English language data sources covering China continue to improve, the need also grows daily. This issue of VIP takes the pulse of the information industry in China. Contributing editor Penny Crossland of CH Business Research introduces us to two distinct services from ISI Emerging Markets, the CEIC China Premium Database and EMIS China. Building on her expertise in investigative research and market intelligence, she shows how these products combine government reporting and news sources. Export Development Canada’s Senior Librarian Perrin Kerravala reviews a new source from Bureau van Dijk (BvD), China Connect, that offers a startling depth of insider and actionable data for companies looking to enter the market through acquisition or participate in M&A services (non-disclosure agreement (NDA) required). This information source draws on data and insight from BCMS International, an M&A advisory firm active in China and worldwide.

If China as a country continues to challenge my data-drinking capabilities, it helps to know where to find the data when it’s needed. The sources reviewed in this issue should be close at hand when the next person working on a China project walks up to your virtual desk and asks for help.

Benjamin B. Sargent

Ben Sargent has worked in the language services industry since 1989, serving in operations, consulting, and marketing roles. He also helped to found and manage several venture-funded high-tech start-ups.

This editorial appears in VIP Magazine No. 91, June 2011. Purchase online >>

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