Alibaba launches ‘A100’ initiative to drive its evolution into a global enterprise tech provider

  • The programme will initially involve companies, such as major brands and merchants, that are partners in Alibaba’s ecosystem
PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 8:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2019, 7:28am

Alibaba Group Holding on Friday launched a new strategic partnership programme that aims to accelerate the Chinese e-commerce giant’s transformation into an integrated technology provider to companies around the world.

New York-traded Alibaba’s “A100” initiative will offer enterprises of all sizes a one-stop solution to accelerate their digital transformation, which involves implementation of advanced technologies, processes and practices to fundamentally change and improve how traditional businesses operate.

“We see a much bigger world beyond ‘new retail’, a completely new world brought by the digital economy era in which all companies will need a brand-new way to operate,” said Daniel Zhang Yong, chief executive at Alibaba, referring to the business model pioneered by the firm that integrates online and offline retail activities.

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Zhang said the A100 programme, which was named after the e-commerce company’s goal to provide “digitised solutions” to a large number of companies, is powered by the Alibaba Operating System – representing the hi-tech infrastructure behind all its businesses. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.

“With over 600 million monthly active users and nearly 30 business units specialising in enterprise services from digital retail to mobile payment to digital marketing to IT infrastructure and more, Alibaba is the leading partner for businesses within China and around the world to capitalise on the growing consumption by China’s middle class,” he said at the firm’s inaugural Alibaba One Business Conference held on Friday at its headquarters in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

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The new initiative by Alibaba reinforces the rapid evolution of China’s major internet players, who built their fortune from consumer-based platforms, into technology powerhouses focused on serving more corporate customers through technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

In October, Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings, which derives two-thirds of its revenue from online gaming and social media, announced a restructuring of its operations to focus more on the industrial internet and the digital transformation of China’s economy.

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Tencent wants to enable greater connectivity across Chinese industry, leveraging the capabilities and expertise it has built to serve the billion-plus users of its consumer-facing platforms, enhancing products and services, according to company chairman and chief executive Pony Ma Huateng at the time.

Alibaba has expanded its activities from e-commerce into digital entertainment and local on-demand services. Its hi-tech infrastructure covers sales, logistics, supply chain optimisation, payments, marketing and a range of supporting services all powered by cloud-based technologies.

At the Alibaba conference, Zhang said the A100 programme will initially include existing partners in the company’s ecosystem. US coffee chain Starbucks, for example, is one of the major brands in that ecosystem, as it collaborates with on-demand food delivery platform, Freshippo supermarket, Tmall, Taobao Marketplace and Alipay.

To be sure, digital transformation solutions offer plenty of upside for Alibaba and Tencent. Worldwide spending on technologies and services enabling digital transformation is forecast to reach US$1.97 trillion in 2022, according to research firm IDC.