European SMEs share their experiences, challenges and paths to success in China over the years. Our new series of case studies begins with the Information Technology sector.
Siveco China: Lessons from 20 Years in China’s Industrial Tech Market
About Siveco China
Siveco China (https://www.sivecochina.com/en) was founded in 2004 by a French entrepreneur active in China since 1999, in partnership with French SME Siveco Group. Drawing on its founder’s experience of the Chinese maintenance and digital technology markets, the company set out to address unfulfilled needs by combining industrial expertise and software solutions.
Over the past two decades, Siveco China has grown to become the largest supplier in this niche with over 1000 client sites. With its main office in Shanghai, smaller operations in Beijing and Hong Kong, the company has developed a R&D spin-off, the bluebee® lab (named after its main product line). Siveco China boasts a growing export business, working alongside Chinese construction companies mostly in Southeast Asia but also Africa and South America. It currently employs 60 employees, has a turnover of 5 million EUR, with key target clients mainly in infrastructures, manufacturing plants and multisite facilities.
Strategy and marketing
A localised positioning
Siveco China’s unique positioning, as both a maintenance consultancy and a specialist software supplier, has no equivalent in Western markets. It was designed to address specific needs of a local market that developed by leaps and bounds, in contrast with the long industrial history experienced in the West. Siveco China’s positioning is also meant to address known sales challenges, with local clients valuing high technology and, more generally, tangible deliverables, as opposed to pure service. In Siveco China’s model, software is a gateway to the company’s range of consulting services.
An obstacle often faced by European SMEs is that Chinese customers prefer to buy from market leaders rather than from small entrepreneurial firms, however good these firms may be. This is especially the case for large Chinese industrial groups. Since its inception, Siveco China has partnered with French company Siveco Group, the European leader in maintenance management software and has put forward this partnership in its marketing messaging. In addition to lending its trade name to the new company and providing software products, Siveco Group also invested a minority stake. Siveco China rapidly became a leader in its own right and is now better known under its Chinese brand name.
PcVue Solutions by Arc Informatique
Founded in 1981, ARC Informatique (https://www.pcvuesolutions.com/) is a privately held company headquartered in Paris that manufactures and markets industrial software. The company serves not only the process industries, but also the infrastructure, utilities and building management systems markets (Smart Cities, Smart Building, Smart Water).
With a proven track record in innovation, ARC Informatique is today focused on the integration of operational technology with information technology. In the era of industry 4.0, it offers a contextual mobility solution on mobile devices, aiming to ease the implementation, the utilisation and the maintenance of SCADA systems by mobile workers. The company is exploring the mobility front with an unprecedented solution that enables its customers to achieve breakthrough improvements to efficiency of commissioning, operating and maintaining automation systems. It has developed a mobility infrastructure that takes advantage of technologies such IPS (Indoor Positioning System) and GPS (Global Positioning System). It also features a contextual mobile HMI, as well as a rich graphical HTML5 web interface among other evolutions.
ARC Informatique sets itself as a leading company in this domain, by proposing solutions and services developed with the latest security technologies. The company’s main product, PcVue Platform, provides a comprehensive solution for handling communication with industrial devices and systems, building flexible and secure network architecture, managing advanced alarm system and database. Through strong partnerships, PcVue completes its offer with a complete range of Industrial Ethernet and cybersecurity equipment, ensuring the safety of its clients’ installations against external threats.
Specifically, the PcVue Solutions portfolio is a suite of software and hardware products built around various products and services:
- HMI-SCADA: a secure, powerful and easily maintainable system, with built-in features that meet various market needs, granting optimised control over processes.
- Real Time Reporting Software: collecting and exploiting data from any source, accessing and interacting information from many industrial systems, while generating and distributing dynamic, real-time reports.
- Advanced Connectivity Hub: collecting and sharing data from IoT devices and bridging IT applications such as NO SQL database, social media tools, BIM and many others with OT applications.
- Field Service Management: assisting field operators perform better and more safely with the help of a virtual assistant and geolocalisation services using mobile devices or headset.
- ICS Cybervision: managing cyber risks by enabling control engineers to detect malicious behaviours and reduce the attack surface, facilitating incident response by gathering all the information required, and providing reports to the security officer.
Akkadu: Our Interview with Founder and CEO Alvaro Montoya
Akkadu (https://www.akkadu.com/) was founded in China. It started as a cloud-based platform providing live translation solutions such as remote simultaneous interpretation, live captioning, and AI subtitles, for meetings and events. With the impact of COVID-19 Akkadu entered the video streaming market helping organisations to live video stream in multiple languages, from their own website.
The interview covers aspects such as Alvaro’s professional background, how the idea of his start-up grew, the challenges encountered during the product development process, the evolution of its product offering and business models, the peculiarities of being a foreign entrepreneur in China, as well as recommendations for other European entrepreneurs interested in coming to China.