iFLYTEK: Turning AI into reality

Out of the lab into the market, an information technology company that began as an experiment at China’s University of Science and Technology is now worth nearly RMB 80 billion. With Iflytek playing the leading role, the efforts of enterprise, universities and research institutes were combined to build core competency in AI technological innovation and explore ways to industrialize this knowhow. How should investors weigh up iFLYTEK’s business structure, model, status and industry chain in voice recognition software? What are the company’s growth prospects and strategic challenges in moving from voice recognition to broader application AI?

Delong Steel: What is steel comprised of?

Steel mills are known to be heavy pollutants. Delong Steel has turned its mills into national triple-A rated scenic parks that welcome tens of thousands of visitors a year. Delong Steel meets high standards and has carried out internal management reforms, so as to ensure high levels of investment in environmental protection. All this at the expense of profits? Not at all. Delong Steel is Hebei province’s top performer. This case shows how a large heavy industry player can combine public welfare with the pursuit of profit. In China, we can all learn from Delong Steel.

Pinduoduo: The origins and direction for China’s social e-commerce leader

As competition in the e-commerce market enters a new phase in which big B2C platforms struggle with traffic growth and surging traffic acquisition prices, social media traffic has become a much-watched “blue ocean” of opportunity. Alibaba and JD.com, the giants of the sector, are as yet underequiped. Pinduoduo, born in the WeChat ecosystem, shows initial signs of success in social e-commerce, but faces sustainable development challenges following a period of explosive growth. This case will explore Pinduoduo’s driving forces and its potential direction.

JOMOO Kitchens and Bathrooms: Strategic upgrading in the smart era

A viral article published in 2015 entitled, “Going to Japan to buy a toilet cover” provoked widespread discussion online, and made a bestseller of the product in question. This “toilet cover” was “smart”, in the sense that it could be controlled via a phone app. It wasn’t an entirely new product, but this was the first story one was to attract such widespread attention. This hadn’t happened for years.


As with AI, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and other related technologies were developed in recent years. Many have embraced the smart era in the same way that earlier people ushered in the electric era, followed by the information age. Can the smart bathroom usher in a similar market boom? JOMOO Group has been deeply involved in home hardware and sanitary ceramics for many years. In 2018, it ranked first among Chinese bathroom goods enterprises with sales of RMB 13 billion. Lin Xiaofa, chairman of JOMOO, stated his sales goal of RMB 50 billion by 2025, and placed high hopes on the smart products for kitchen bathroom and custom products. With cross-border competition for smart devices, can JOMOO win the smart-home battle? How does it support strategic upgrades in research and development, channels, and operations? This case focuses on the smart strategy of JOMOO.

Lenovo: Time for another refresh?

“If we lose our shared aspirations, what will we become?” is classic advertising copy in China, neatly referencing the characters of Lenovo’s Chinese name. But Lenovo Group has lost the aura of unlimited connection, and no longer feels inspired. A granddaddy of Chinese private business, Lenovo is also a high tech elder. Taking a 20-year timeframe however, Huawei has earned twice Lenovo’s revenue. Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com (BATJ), China’s looming internet giants, have now fully caught up. Lenovo represents technology as it was. Its poor stamina for change has led to flat earnings of around RMB 300 billion for many years in a row.


More worrying than its scale of operations is Lenovo’s limited appeal in technological innovation. Its phone business has underperformed. Forays into online education, e-commerce, and AI have failed to grow. Capital markets reflect public and investor disappointment: Lenovo Group was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for just HKD 4.99 per share on October 31, 2018, a total market capitalization of HKD 60 billion, only a third of its peak market value. Its valuation has been left in the dust by BATJ. What happened to this once brilliant superstar? Can Lenovo make a comeback in the smart era?

Spice World Hotpot: Acculturation and Project Organization

In a labor-intensive catering sector, Zhu Xingquan’s Spice World Hotpot Group offers answers to the following questions: What sort of incentives work best when you have a large number of front-line staff? How do business leaders build a corporate culture and sell it to their employees? What is the value of having an internal project system and brand management platform?