After some relaxing days in the very north of Vietnam, we transferred to Ho Chi Minh City, which is located in the south of the country. The mild and much more comfortable climate in the south is a nice change to the otherwise steamy and hot climate in Hanoi and was much appreciated by the whole group. The former capital, previously known as Sài Gòn, is home to 7.1 Mio people. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the economic hub of Vietnam and home to many international companies. (Nowadays, it is the economical heart of the country, where many international companies branched out). Apart from the city center, Ho Chi Minh City has a dominant rural structure, comparable to a densely populated province. As we made our way from the airport to our hotel, the countless motor scooters caught our attention. Furthermore, the busy streets with its many shops and restaurants and vibrant lifestyle was a lasting experience.
For the two upcoming days in Vietnam’s biggest city, we were confronted with a tightly packed schedule. The first day started at 7:30 AM with a delicious breakfast in our hotel Lan Lan 1, before we headed out to the first company visit at the IBM innovation center in Ho Chi Minh.
IBM Innovation Center
After a short bus drive we arrived right on time to meet Mr. Luu, who is a Senior Client Manager at IBM Vietnam. After a warm welcome from Mrs. Trang and Mr. Luu the presentation started. Mr. Luu introduced the schedule of the presentation and gave us the opportunity to state our interest and suggest additional topics. After a short introduction from Mr. Luu, Doctor Braun provided an introduction with some facts and figures about ZHAW as well as the purpose of our visit. Mr. Luu started with a company introduction, where he pointed out the strong market position and worldwide size of IBM. Additionally, he presented the core services of IBM, which are IT Infrastructure and many diverted IT consulting services.
During the second part of the presentation we got some insights into the strategy of IBM, which is mainly based on Mobile, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things and Social networks. A good addition were the facts about IBM’s business in Vietnam and its close cooperation with the government. The software business of IBM highly relies on creative solutions; which IBM obtains at so called hackatons where they team up with local Start Ups to create new applications and ideas. Another key topic was the well-known artificial intelligence technology, IBM Watson. Mr. Luu indicated the tremendous potential of this technology in terms of big data and machine learning technology. The presentation of Watson was rounded up with an interesting video about a possible use case of Watson combined with a Japanese robot. The video can be found below.
At lunchtime the group went back to the city center to enjoy individual lunches. Some of the students enjoyed local street food while others took a break from the Asian cuisine with a solid western meal.
Schindler Training Center
Strengthened from the extended lunchbreak, the group gathered at the hotel lobby to go on their way towards Schindler’s training facilities. After a short bus ride through the city center, we arrived at the very modern and recently built training center. We got a warm welcome from Raja, a very experienced technician from India, who manages the Schindler training center. After a short introduction from our side and a brief discussion about the purpose of our visit, Raja started the tour with the promise to make it understandable for non-technicians. Raja’s experience and knowledge of the Schindler products was very impressive and gave us a good understanding on how Schindler elevators operate. Although, Raja was coming from a technical background he was still able to answer many business and market related question about Vietnam.
Schindler Vietnam has over 450 employees and offers more than 20 different training courses for its local partners. The training facility has a capacity to educate more than 2800 technicians annually. The trainings range from simple mechanical troubleshooting up to software updates and programming.
The visit at Schindler lasted a little more than an hour and soon we made our way back to the hotel. During the ride through the busy streets our local guide suggested a traditional Vietnamese restaurant next to our hotel, which became especially popular among the students after some heavy and intense rain. After some free time, almost the whole group went to the suggested restaurant. A short stroll later the size of our group proofed to be a real challenge for the restaurant team, which had some issues during ordering and serving. The slightly longer waiting time was quickly forgotten as the staff presented a wide range of delicious Vietnamese specialties and some refreshing Saigon beers.
Still tired from the long trip and travelling, the day ended early and most of us went to bed early.