Alibaba ramps up local presence

David McClure

Many people would be familiar with Alibaba from its famous Singles Day event, which generated around $40 billion in sales in 2018. Less well known is the company’s emphasis on cloud services, which has seen it establish two data centres in Australia for businesses looking for an infrastructure solution which will help them tap the vast markets in Asia.

“Many of our competitors are focused on businesses looking to the West,” said Alibaba Cloud’s general manager of Australia and New Zealand, Raymond Ma.

“We are set up to provide services for organisations looking to tap both local markets and the markets in Asia, including mainland China. We are looking to the East with our local service offering.”

According to Mr Ma, Alibaba Cloud is the perfect partner for companies looking into expansion in China, as it rides on the back of Alibaba Group’s ecosystem in China. This sees the company emphasise new businesses in energy, manufacturing, retail, finance and technology.

When it comes to new retail, Mr Ma points to the company’s relationship with retailers such as The ICONIC, Cue Clothing Co, Chemist Warehouse and Jurlique, as local companies working with Alibaba Cloud to enhance customer engagement in Australia, as well as spearheading their ambitions in the fast-growing Asian market.

New finance sees Alibaba aiming at the FinTech market, again for companies wanting to access Asia and mainland China, while its emphasis on data as a new source of energy to be captured to power the business.

“We define energy as data tech,” he said. “Data will be the new energy, and we want to provide a platform to provide a new source of growth for these customers.”

He adds that with its two data centres in Australia, Alibaba is well-positioned to serve local customers, including meeting their data sovereignty needs, as well as providing them a springboard into the Asian market.

A technical focus

In Australia, Alibaba Cloud provides AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing services that support multiple languages including English and Chinese, making it simple for companies to deploy chatbots and other AI capabilities to better service their customers.

The company has also doubled down on security. Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International’s general manager of product and security Henry Zhang said: “As a global company, security is our number one priority and we work closely with customers in each jurisdiction we operate in to understand local data governance and compliance needs so we can better support their business.”

For Europe, this includes the GDPR, while in Australia it is adhering to local data sovereignty rules, particularly for companies in regulated industries, such as financial services, energy, and utilities.

“We respect customers’ data and privacy and we provide a number of encryption and security products to ensure end-to-end information security,” said Mr Zhang.

“A customer’s data will only be stored in the region they choose and is never moved outside of that region/country unless the customer does so.”

In addition, Alibaba Cloud is now growing the company into a more technologically inclusive platform, enabling SaaS partners to quickly launch their applications and services on Alibaba Cloud and continue to nurture a business friendly ecosystem together. The recent collaboration with Salesforce is one such example.

China entry strategies

On Friday 30 August, the Alibaba Cloud Conference will take place as part of the Alibaba eCommerce Expo at ICC Sydney. It’s here that business and technology leaders from Alibaba Cloud will share the latest entry strategy to do business in China, and the most current trends in artificial intelligence and cloud computing. has partnered with Alibaba Cloud in advance of its eCommerce Expo.

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