Tencent to Baidu, Chinese internet giants big on Big Data

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 1:48am

Chinese internet giant Tencent will concentrate on a handful of core areas related to Big Data in the coming three years while other Chinese companies are also setting their sights firmly on Big Data.

“We will transform ourselves, from doing everything on our own to operating only the core platforms, digital contents and financial businesses,” said founder and chief executive Pony Ma Huateng on Wednesday at Guiyang International Big Data Expo, a government-backed technology event. “We will leave other businesses to our partners.”

This is a strategic shift on part of the HK$1.5 trillion company, which currently operates a wide range of services, from messaging app WeChat to the popular online game League of Legends.

Ma said Tencent will focus on cloud services, mobile payment and location-based services in the future. He plans to integrate all the data from various services Tencent owns or invested in, including car hailing, online shopping and group-buying, in one place.

“We hope to build an ecosystem of Big Data,” Ma said.

Other Chinese internet giants are equally keen on Big Data.

Robin Li Yanhong, founder and chief executive of search engine giant Baidu, urged the government to provide access to the enormous amount of data it controls.

Baidu has invested heavily on artificial intelligence technology, especially in the field of autonomous driving. Last week it collaborated with the Wuhu city government in the southern province of Anhui to open a dedicated unmanned car testing zone.

“Artificial intelligence can unlock the greatest potential of Big Data,” said Li.

Richard Liu Qiangdong, chief executive of Chinese e-commerce giant, said he believes Big Data analytics will speed up the goods delivery process and help customers while Cheng Wei, founder of car-hailing app Didi, said cars in future will be operated like planes, thanks to centralised Big Data platforms.

Held in the southwestern city of Guiyang, the Big Data Expo is one of the most high-profile state-backed technology events. It is co-organised by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Guizhou provincial government.

“China needs new technologies such as big data and cloud computing to transform its traditional sectors,” said Premier Li Keqiang at the expo on Tuesday, according to government news reports.

Beijing has written Big Data into the 13th five-year plan, which was approved by the Communist Party in November. The plan includes a series of social and economic initiatives that will guide the development of the country from 2016 to 2021.