“The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet, but rather how much energy we invest in the time that we have”
– Tony Schwartz
Alibaba organized the 2016 Cloud Computing Conference that brought together 40,000 visitors and 400 exhibitors from around the world. We were all really excited to join this event. What a great way for us to discover the Aliyun (Alicloud) business after only a few days in China!
During those 2 days, over 100 presentations and keynotes took place, including one of Jack Ma, the Founder and Chairman of Alibaba. Thanks to our emcees Cai Song (Neo) and Brian Wong, some of us got VIP passes to attend Jack Ma’s keynote speech. As he took the stage, the auditorium glowed with the smart phones of every person in the audience. The imagery was stunning.
The focus of the keynote was on computing power and on “big data” which Ma predicts will become our world’s new natural resource. According to him the evolution of big data and the birth of AI will have relevant consequences for the entire society. However, his view of the future is not the catastrophic forecast that other brilliant minds provided us (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have all been quite vocal on their fears regarding AI). Jack Ma has instead great hope for a future where AI empowers human beings to reach a whole new level of knowledge and wealth. Men, freed from day-to-day tasks and computational work, will better exploit the full potential of their mind. He mentioned that the revolution already started with manual works being replaced by machines and brick-and-mortar businesses being disrupted by e-commerce. He even predicted that robots will replace manual labor, and the resulting “Third World War” will be waged not against people but against poverty.
These changes are not necessarily for the worse, according to him for every lost job a new one is created. Which means that big data can finally give an opportunity to small and medium businesses to emerge and stand their ground in the new globalized market.
The pace of change will however increase dramatically. Those individuals and companies that will embrace change and understand the opportunities provided by technology will prosper in this new world, while those unwilling to change will inevitably lose their competitive edge and fall behind. Jack Ma concluded with a message:
“Fear comes from ignorance of the future. But the future holds nothing dreadful, as long as you embrace it and grasp it for yourself.”
A lot of people don’t know that Alibaba also provides cloud computing solutions, it’s a 10 year old business now. It was really interesting for new Ali recruits like us to visit the different booths of companies, all using the cloud to create impressive innovations.
We discovered many Alibaba’s partners like AMD or Intel. The booth of Intel was actually massive, with tons of innovations such as drones and VR devices. We also spoke to some clients of Alibaba. Teridion was one of them; they explained to us that their business model was to use the service of multiple cloud providers to offers throughput that is on average 5 to 20 times more than current Internet speeds. Last but not least, we really enjoyed discovering the ‘Smart City’ concept using cloud computing and big data to analyze and manage real time traffic flows in the city.
After the event, we realized that China Cloud Computing market is fast growing, what was $1.5 billion in 2013 will grow to become $20 billion by 2020. So this is only getting started!
Thank you Cai Song (Neo) & Brian Wong for helping us explore the multiple facets of the Alibaba ecosystem!
Matt Shofnos is a former teacher and consultant who is passionate about building bridges between dissimilar groups. In his spare time, Matt enjoys travel blogging and injecting humor into ordinary things.
Chloe Goncalves is a digital French woman, really interested in entrepreneurship and marketing. Always looking to experience new things, she loves discovering the world and meeting new people.
Alessandro Marcello is a Marketing graduate with international experience in the electronics and e-commerce industries. He loves sports, oriental cultures and cinematography.