To maximise the benefits of globalisation, Hong Kong's manufacturing industry is set to develop high value export goods via innovation, sophisticated technology and machinery. "Hong Kong" as a brand currently enjoys an elevated position in the global value chain, and this can be further enhanced if manufacturers continue to strive for greater levels of industrial excellence.
One such enterprise in Hong Kong which has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of neo-industrialisation is Group Sense (International) Limited (GSL), the local manufacturer of the popular electronic dictionary Instant-Dict.
"Our flagship product Instant-Dict is a leading consumer brand particularly in the greater China market. We are also selling electronic dictionaries and translators covering more than 30 languages in more than 25 countries and regions," says Samson Tam, chairman of GSL.
GSL was founded in 1988, and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1993. The company is committed to producing electronic products for customers to access information efficiently. Since conception, GSL has won numerous awards, including the Hong Kong Awards for Industry — Consumer Product Design; Technological Achievement; Productivity; Quality; and more than 10 other awards in different categories.
According to Dr Tam, the company is also focusing on developing communications technologies. "We need information to stay competitive in the information age. Education remains a relatively formal instructional process, yet people can acquire knowledge and information beyond the typical platform. Knowledge and skills accumulation using ICTs (information and communications technologies) will increasingly take place outside the usual educational backdrop. It is GSL's mission to design and produce more convenient handheld information devices to facilitate knowledge transfer," Dr Tam explains.
Over the years, GSL has manufactured a range of PDA (personal digital assistant) products such as the world's first Chinese-language PDA and the "Xplore" PDA series featuring an open-platform operating system that allows users to develop customised applications. In 2001, the company launched the world's first bilingual data-centric GSM PDA, a communication device intended for wireless internet and "M-commerce", which refers to transactions made possible by mobile access to computer-mediated networks.
According to Dr Tam, the market needs increasingly smaller and smarter devices to capitalise on advancing WiFi technologies, which allow wireless connection to local and global telecommunications networks. Common applications include the internet, VoIP (voice over internet protocol), permitting transmission of voice via the internet or other packet switched networks), gaming, and network connectivity for consumer electronics such as televisions and DVD players.
The wide availability of WiFi has a far-reaching impact on people's daily lives. Dr Tam notes for instance that VoIP can facilitate tasks and provide services more conveniently and economically than the traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network). VoIP can transmit more than one call down the same broadband connected telephone, making telephone conferencing literally a touch of a key.
In response to demand and market trends, GSL is also marketing WiFi devices, including e-books and palm-sized televisions. "As WiFi LAN services appear in more places such as airports, hotels, restaurants, and even outdoors, connectivity will become even more mobile. The ability to access information on demand in any location gives individuals a competitive advantage. Mobile information access effectively renders the home or any other location," Dr Tam points out.
Dr Tam is confident about the future of the local high-tech industry. "Hong Kong has a comprehensive education system. We continuously achieve outstanding results in technological research, abide by stringent environmental protection rules and boast a wide talent pool. Hong Kong will continue to supply high value products," he says, adding that technology and talent are essential resources for wealth creation.
As in many industries, talent is GSL's greatest asset. The company constantly seeks individuals with a strong technical background, such as those with qualifications and experience in electronic or computer engineering, computer science and mechanical engineering. Dr Tam adds that besides technical know-how, candidates should have good communication skills as a great deal of teamwork and project implementation are involved.
GSL allocates considerable resources to R&D (research and development). The company has several years of expertise in software development and the design of embedded systems. The ODM (original design manufacturing) business is another fast-growing line at GSL. The company has ISO certified manufacturing facilities in Dongguan, China and also produces differentiated hi-tech electronic products for customers in both Japan and Europe.
"We are part of a bigger production process which takes place in different places around the world and as such, we should continue to position ourselves at the centre of the global supply chain," Dr Tam concludes.