By Sharvari Alape
Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, has risen to be China’s largest provider of public cloud services, with eyes to expand beyond within the Middle East. During its inaugural Middle East and Africa (MEA) Internet Summit, Selina Yuan said to her audience that the company does not have competition because “we are focused on our mission.”
In an exclusive interview, Yuan, talks Alibaba Cloud’s mission, challenges and future goals. She explained the company’s vision in supporting SMEs using it’s technology.
What makes Alibaba Cloud unique?
The first point is that we would like to make business easy everywhere in the world, that is the mission of our company. We have our teams here who work closely with our customers to explore the digitization and in a different industry. The second point is that we have been very successful in e-commerce, retail, FinTech, media, entertainment, and even logistics. We have many businesses across different industries. So we would like to share all these experiences and practices with our partners and customers. The third point is that we have a very strong engagement with not only the technology but also the business experience. It is important for traditional industries to just share the technology with them, but also share how to contribute to their commercial scenario.
The MEA region comprises of different landscapes. What are some of the challenges faced while establishing yourself in this region?
Investing in the MEA region is part of our global international strategy. Challenges and opportunities are just like the double sides of the same coin. The region is a great market with great potential, but it’s a little segmented. You can’t follow the regular approach of just setting up a branch office. You need to empower your partners, build your ecosystem and grow together with all the ecosystem partners. That’s the most important motivation for us to call for this summit. We are not here to only sell our product; the most important part is to help our local partners to build the ecosystem here. That’s our challenge. But there’s a lot of technical talents here. So we think we will work well.
One of the main concerns with data is security and data protection. How does Alibaba address such concerns with its clients?
As a global and public company, we are committed to complying with all the international and local regulations. Data privacy and protection is a top priority for Alibaba Cloud in all its 56 availability zones in the 19 regions it operates. We protect every one of our partners and users. Our ecosystem is also built on and depends on trust. We have different levels of certification that prove that people can trust us. We have more than 70 security and compliance accreditations worldwide.
Why has there been an increasing focus on SMEs from your side?
SME is just one of our customer angles. We also have many big companies working with us. As Alibaba, our mission is to support every business to keep them going well. So SMEs are a part of our important customers as well. SMEs at their earlier stage may not have much support, so then they can’t grow their businesses into those big companies. That’s why we are targeting them. That’s the beauty of cloud computing; we can support everyone. If you are a start-up, you start from small and get the basic layer. But when you want to scale up, you can do that.
How could other technologies be combined with cloud computing to improve the market?
It depends on the business scenario. We do utilize some technology on our platform. For example, we have our artificial intelligence translator to support our customers, and we have used voice receivers to answer questions from the end users. These are just subsidiaries for the technical part that [was] formed on the foundation of our cloud computing. First, you must build a solid infrastructure to add to more to it.
What are some of the trends in the Middle East that could potentially harm or benefit the industry?
In the Middle East, we think the internet and digitization will be more active than ever. All of these can have our cloud technology to support them. As the internet becomes more active, a lot of internet technology will be used by businesses. So basically, the market is really good for us.
What message does Alibaba as a brand wants to communicate?
Businesses are growing faster today; it becomes very difficult to have more resources in a short time. Through our public cloud platform, all of the resources can be easily be agile and match the business while growing. We would like to put out our technology and our public cloud platform. As Alibaba Cloud, we are aiming to support our customers and partners with our Alibaba cloud platform. We like to share our technology, our products, our solutions, our platform, to support our partner and our customers to be more successful.