Wang Wenjing’s talent was obvious from an early age. At 15 years-old, he started at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, where he majored in accountancy. Upon graduating in 1983, he went to work in the finance division of an adjunct to the State Council, where he met his future business partner Su Qiqiang.
In the mid-eighties, Wang and Su were tasked with the job of introducing computer systems to process the central government’s accounts. During the implementation of the project, Wang realised that computerisation of accounting was going to be a gamechanger. He and Su both quit their government jobs and went to Beijing’s electronics district, Zhongguancun, to set up a company, UF Software. Success came quickly: in 1991, the company’s financial software was accredited by the Ministry of Finance and in the same year UF became China’s leading provider of financial software. Although Su left the company in 1993 to focus on software sales, UF continued to grow: by 1998, turnover was Rmb180 million ($27 million).
A trip to Dongguan in 1996 changed the focus of UF’s business. Local sales agents told Wang that some customers in the city were no longer interested in purchasing financial software, but rather solutions that could help with company management across various divisions. If this was the trend in one of the most developed manufacturing regions, Wang knew it was only a matter of time until companies across China wanted the same thing.
UF thus made a strategic shift towards making enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. By 2002 it was the ERP market leader in China; and a year later, it started to export solutions to Southeast Asia and Japan.
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In 2010, UF’s net profit was Rmb332 million, and as a leading software firm it began to attract international interest.
Microsoft is rumoured to have offered $1 billion for the firm in 2005. Wang declined. He also said no to Steve Ballmer when the CEO of Microsoft flew to Beijing in 2007 in search of a strategic investment. A year later, the companies did come to some understanding, becoming global strategic partners.
Having made the change from financial software to ERP applications, UF says it is now getting ready for the next transition, into cloud computing. If it can do so successfully, it hopes to maintain its place at the forefront of China’s IT industry.
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