Co-sponsored: Reaching for the cloud

TAS CEO Shane Baker speaks with Jintong Zhu, Director of Big Data International Business & Solution Innovation Centre, Alibaba Cloud about the growth of the business and industry trends.

As a senior machine intelligence expert, Jintong oversees the company’s AI program, called ‘ET Brain’. The adaptive technology platform for practical applications spans across a host of topics, such as city, environment, financial, medical and industrial brain. He has been involved in the development of a range of projects; including Macau Smart City, Beijing Capital International Airport Aviation Brain and Trinasolar Industry Brain. We spoke to Jintong about Alibaba Cloud’s evolution, the future of the Internet of Things (IoT), and how the finserv industry can create better customer experiences with the right technologies.

Tell us about Alibaba Cloud’s evolution since launching in 2009?

Alibaba Cloud was launched in September 2009. In the beginning, we developed our own cloud computing services to handle high transaction volume during 11 Nov Singles Day (a holiday popular among young Chinese people that celebrates their pride in being single). So, since day one, Alibaba Cloud has been the infrastructure platform supporting large amounts of operations of various business within Alibaba Group’s ecosystem including Alipay, Taobao, Tmall and AliExpress. Our emphasis on customer experience spans across all our business units so customers have a consistent and quality experience whenever the engage with our eco-system.

Alibaba Cloud’s ET Brain is an advanced AI solution, how is it different from other platforms?

Our vision is to enable digital transformation of various sectors with our AI technology. Based on this idea, we have developed our ET Brain, a proprietary AI program that aims to help different verticals to tackle real-world challenges and unleash their development potential. It is powered by Alibaba Cloud’s large-scale computing engine Apsara, integrating machine learning, heterogeneous data analysis, and visual/speech recognition capabilities that can be inter-coordinated on-demand. Today, Alibaba Cloud’s ET Agricultural Brain, ET City Brain, ET Industrial Brain, ET Medical Brain, ET Environment Brain and ET Aviation Brain offer an array of services for its clients in enterprise, city administration and other professions.

Alibaba Cloud aims to build an Internet of Things (IoT) network with 10 billion connected devices within the next five years, what will this involve?

Our vision is to build an intelligently connected world through transformative IoT technologies. This requires us to realise the potential of an inclusive and secure IoT infrastructure driven by robust AI solutions and a suite of computing capabilities that extends from cloud to edge. IoT will sit alongside e-commerce, finance, logistics and cloud in its own right and commanding relevant focus and resources, in order to become the new strategic track for Alibaba.

How is IoT specifically driving a more connected world and what impact is it having on the financial services industry?

Telecommunications and high-speed internet are connecting people globally and creating an ‘always on’ society. The IoT will make people and objects connected in more ways than we can imagine. With more and more objects becoming online, the data from these objects can be leveraged for a lot of innovation in the financial services area.

What will be the most disruptive technologies for the finserv industry in the next 2 years? And how is Alibaba Cloud positioned to deliver these technologies?

Currently we are using cloud computing, big data and AI, and see those as the most disruptive technologies. The benefits mean people can access their accounts and make payments with borderless convenience, but the challenges also include increased cyber security risks.

To address these issues, Alibaba cloud has implemented the following measures:

• In December 2017, Alibaba Cloud had completed its assessment for the Cloud Computing Compliance Controls Catalogue (C5) set out by the Federal Office for Information Security in Germany, also known as Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI).

• Alibaba Cloud joined other international technology companies including SAP, IBM, Oracle in forming a general assembly for the EU Cloud CoC, the Code of Conduct for Cloud Service Providers.

• In 2016, Alibaba Cloud achieved two new certifications overseas – Singapore Multi-Tier Cloud Security (MTCS) standard Level 3 and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). These are on top of the previously awarded Information Security Management System Certification ISO27001 and Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Star certification.

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