I just got back from a week in Toyko. My trip was actually quite the experience, the first time I've gotten the chance to visit Japan. I was there in part to attend CloudCamp Tokyo as well as an action packed week of meetings. Other then 7 days of sushi, which got old pretty fast, I had an amazing time.
Let me point of a few the more interesting points of my trip to the land of the rising sun. As I mentioned in my previous post about the opportunities for Cloud Computing in Asia, if my schedule is any indication of the demand for cloud products, there is a tremendous amount. Every minute of my trip was accounted for with non-stop meetings. I will also point out that the Japanese know how to entertain. As you can probably tell, I do a lot of traveling and am quite frequently taken to fancy restaurants, nothing comes close to the fine restaurants of Tokyo. Duck Sashimi anyone?
As for CloudCamp Tokyo, it was well attended with more then 160 in attendance. One of the more interesting aspects of the Camp was how the Japanese interact in an unconference setting. To put it simply, they don't. Getting them to publicly speak was a challenge. A few ask questions, but generally it was a one way conversation. I spoke, my translator spoke. The lightning presentations were also very well received. After the main unconference is when things got interesting. We had an open bar which probably helped loosen things up a bit. In an orderly single file fashion, almost everyone of the 160 or so attendees proceed to introduce themselves to me, handing me their business cards, with both hands, followed by a bow and a Hajimemashite (a polite 'Hello, I am pleased to make your acquaintance' which you only use the very first time you meet).
I also found it interesting that language and cultural differences are major barriers. Unlike Europe where most business people speak English, this is not the case in Japan. Most don't. To get around this we worked with a large Japanese System Integrator which provided us with two very nice Japanese translators (Eno-san and Maki-san - pictured) . The firm also provided us with introductions to most of the major Japanese cloud customers including the top Hosting, Data Centers, Telecoms etc. Without the help of the SI we would have had much more difficult time, a good portion of our meetings involved our translators doing the majority of the talking. So my suggestion to any company looking to sell cloud products and services to the Asian market is to find yourself a local partner who can act as a guide to the local business scene.
All in all a succesful week in Japan. Next week I'll be in Tel Aviv at the The World Summit of Cloud Computing. Should be interesting.
(P.S) Wear a suit and tie.