An interview with Jiang Feng, CHEAA’s president

Source: CHEAA-run China Appliance magazine

Covering new concepts including industrial network, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and 5G, new infrastructure has been written in government report 2020 at this year’s two sessions. In fact, China’s home appliance industry is no stranger to it. At the critical time when the industry is evolving from big to strong, what changes could occur if the industry embraces new infrastructure? Jiang Feng, President of China Household Electrical Appliances Association (CHEAA) shares her insight with China Appliance.

At the national level, the establishment of new infrastructure is of great significance, as Jiang Feng points out. “New infrastructure includes commercial 5G, artificial intelligence, industrial network, Internet of Things (IoT) and data centers, according to the definition of the National Development and Reform Commission in April. The construction of telecommunication infrastructure will pave the way for basic infrastructure construction for the digital age, advancing the digital transformation of the society and the economy, the integration of digital economy and real economy and therefore high quality economic development.”

For home appliance industry, new infrastructure construction also means a lot. “China’s home appliance enterprises are going smart and digital with product intelligence, smart manufacturing, digital management and digital marketing and service being important directions of future development.” Jiang Feng believes that, new infrastructure will support home appliance industry’s smart and digital transformation and high quality development. “The digital integration of online and offline business, the transformation from selling hardware to scenario-based, interactive appliances, contents and services, and the digital connection throughout the supply chain will be new trends of home appliance industry down the road.” Jiang Feng says.

Q: What are the new opportunities that arise from the new infrastructure policy?

Jiang Feng: Home appliance industry is upgrading, from regular products to smart appliances and smart homes, from individual smart products to connected ones and smart home scenarios. And down the road will be the interconnection of smart home, smart community and smart automobile. The construction of new infrastructure will pave the way for all of them. Plus, artificial intelligence technologies such as voice control and image processing have been widely applied to home appliances, which allows the software to drive the hardware to achieve AI-driven appliances. The smartization of home appliances needs new infrastructure that covers network communication, IoT, big data and AI to enable better experience and interaction, expand market and meet consumers’ growing demand for better life.

Q: How will new infrastructure benefit smart manufacturing?

Jiang Feng: Smart manufacturing will benefit from new infrastructure. Home appliance enterprises have been stepping up efforts in automation and informationization in recent years, making a great improvement in smart manufacturing, production efficiency and product quality. To achieve smart manufacturing, data is the key: data concerning manufacturing, quality control, equipment status check and energy cost need to be collected and connected automatically to achieve the connection of manufacturing equipment, testing equipment and logistics equipment. The process requires equipment digitalization as well as software update. It’s safe to say that, industrial network is the base. Without it, smart manufacturing cannot be achieved. Smart manufacturing boosts automation and the integration of informationization and industrialization while improves the manufacturing capability and efficiency in general.

Q: What do you think of the fast digital transformation of home appliance industry amid the pandemic?

Jiang Feng: The digital transformation of management, marketing and servicing becomes even more urgent after the outbreak. With offline activities suspended amid the pandemic, major activities of enterprises such as order-placing, product promotion and product selling are switched to online. Open data show that, online sales keep the momentum of growth despite the sharp fall of sales at offline market in April. Industry players start to adopt new marketing modes such as Wechat-based marketing and live-streaming selling amid the pandemic with the latter rising to be a new platform for brand exposure, product releases and sales promotions. It is learned that there has been more than a thousand live-streaming sales of home appliances starting March. But it’s worth noting that, the surging traffic brings challenges to communication networks, causing lags and latencies. I believe the commercialization of 5G and the establishment of new infrastructure will improve online marketing experiences, and will act as a building block of the new business mode born amid the pandemic.

Q: How will after-sale services benefit from the policy?

Jiang Feng: The servicing mode is going digital too. As a long pain point, after-sale service can be well offered in this digital age and previous problems such as overcharging customers and offering substandard parts will be fixed. Many enterprises have developed after-sale APP or Wechat account to allow customers to make after-sale appointments, purchase parts and rate maintenance workers, which improves the service and customer satisfaction. Plus, remote diagnosis and maintenance will be possible as appliances get smarter.

China’s home appliance industry is all set to embrace the challenges and opportunities brought by new infrastructure.