At the Computing Conference 2017 (From Oct.11 to Oct.14, the conference was held at the Yunqi Town International Exhibition Center in Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba is based.), Jack Ma gave a long speech announcing the establishment of DAMO Lab to explore the future of human technology.
In the speech, Jack Ma emphasised that he was firmly opposed to any research lab or laboratory, when the company was only seven or eight years old. “At that time,” he said, “no one could talk to me about the lab, not even about the Microsoft R&D Department or the IBM Research and Development Department. Why? Because I didn't think those R&D departments would keep developing when they were not focusing on the technology researching how to resolve problems.”
“What I realised was that it would be a disaster for a young enterprise to consider technology research and development right from the start. I found that most companies are researching for fun and for profit. There was one engineer of a big foreigner company (not mentioning any names) who showed me how to make money from his product, but not how to resolve the users’ problems, which should be the most important target for the further development of the company.”
As a young company, which had only just started, Jack Ma stressed that Alibaba’s technology goal was to resolve a lot of users’ problems and not a technology research and development laboratory. Having admired Microsoft, Bell and IBM’s R&D department’s contributions for the past 10 years, Jack also mentioned that the leaders of these companies should carefully think about the R&D department’s future vision for their respective company as well as its users before building a research lab.
Durings the 18 years of Alibaba’s growth, most of us got to know it as an e-commerce company. However, this comprises only 20% of Alibaba’s business. Jack said, “We are known to everyone by our e-commerce business, but our ambition is to become a data-driven company. That is what we have been working on for the past 9 years. And now we are one of the top companies that can handle the rich data sources in the worldwide.”
Today, Alibaba is the world's largest e-commerce company in terms of scale effect, which is almost bigger than Amazon and eBay combined, and mainly due to Alibaba's formidable technical support. Jack took the Double 11 event as example (Double 11 is the Chinese Singles’ Day. It has become the largest online and offline shopping day in the world with sales in Alibaba’s sites like Tmall and Taobao.), “it requires a very high level of technical support in the research for online goods searching, payment processing, goods delivery etc., to provide the global customers with the best user experience when they are shopping online that day. It is exceeding people's imagination.”
By appreciating Alibaba’s hard working engineers, Jack Ma said. “I am not a tech person, but I support technology more than anyone else. In my understanding, not as a geek, technology is the way to help us resolve the problems, and those at the boss level at Tencent and Baidu (the boss levels in Tencent and Baidu are engineers, and Jack Ma is not.) actually have the ability and the knowledge to do just that.”
The Alibaba’s technology has been developing to meet the users’ needs and fix the users’ problems. This is the reason why Alibaba entered cloud computing completely and successfully nine years ago.
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