Alibaba News Roundup: AI-powered Tools Set to Change the Way We Live; Dickies’ Secret to Staying Engaged with China’s Gen-Z; Sustainability in Spotlight at 2021 11.11 Shopping Festival

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Alibaba News Roundup: AI-powered Tools Set to Change the Way We Live; Dickies’ Secret to Staying Engaged with China’s Gen-Z; Sustainability in Spotlight at 2021 11.11 Shopping Festival

Alibaba's new Wuying Cloud Computer is one of several workplace tools released this week. Photo credit: Alibaba Group



This week, Alibaba Group unleashed a whirlwind of AI-powered tools at the company’s annual Apsara Conference in Hangzhou, including a weather forecaster that can predict the climate conditions up to six hours in advance. 

Other offerings at the technology shindig included a virtual meeting assistant to support a more flexible working culture in the new normal post the coronavirus pandemic. The company also revealed a special edition of its workplace communication platform DingTalk to facilitate major sports events, including the 2022 Asian Games.

In other news, Alibaba Cloud broke ground on data centers in South Korea and Thailand. American workwear brand Dickies spoke with Alizila about its recent line of hoodies designed with feedback from young Chinese shoppers. 

Not to bury the lead, but Alibaba’s 13th annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival got underway this week! Environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness are taking center stage this year and Alibaba announced a flurry of green initiatives. Follow our live blog here for exclusive insights into the world’s largest shopping festival as they happen.

Smart logistics service Cainiao Network unveiled upgraded parcel sorting centers in Europe to boost delivery efficiency.

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DAMO Academy Reveals AI-based Tool That Predicts the Weather up to Six Hours in Advance

Alibaba’s new weather forecasting platform can predict the weather up to six hours in advance, thanks to an AI-based “nowcasting” system unveiled at the company’s annual Apsara Conference in Hangzhou on Friday.

The platform, developed by DAMO Academy and the National Meteorological Center in China, relies on a machine-learning model trained on large datasets of radar imagery and meteorological satellite images.

By analyzing past weather data, it can forecast rainfall and severe weather conditions. This is a significant improvement compared to competing models, which can normally see only up to two to three hours ahead, according to DAMO Academy.

Get the full scoop on how Alibaba is changing the weather forecasting game here

Next-Gen Workplace Innovations Unveiled 

Alibaba debuted an AI-powered meeting assistant on Thursday, alongside an upgraded cloud computer for remote working.

The AI meeting assistant, named Tingwu, is designed for use at interviews and multi-location conferences, where it can convert speech to text in real-time, create meeting summaries and post-conference to-do lists. With a transcription accuracy of 98%, it can distinguish up to 10 voices and identify speakers in the transcript. 

“The goal is to free users from note-taking so that they can truly focus on what is happening in meetings and never worry about forgetting things,” said Pang Tiancong, product manager of Tingwu at the Speech Lab of Alibaba’s innovation hub DAMO Academy, in an interview with Alizila.

Learn more about how Alibaba is developing next-generation workplace tools here

Alibaba Cloud to Digitalize the 2022 Asian Games with New DingTalk for Sports

Alibaba launched a special edition of its workplace communication platform DingTalk this week to facilitate large-scale sports events, including the 2022 Asian Games. 

The new mobile and desktop application, called Premium DingTalk for Sports, streamlines organization and communication for major sports competitions, which can involve more than 100,000 participants spread across multiple sites, Alibaba Cloud announced on Wednesday at the Apsara Conference

Premium DingTalk for Sports features collaboration tools borrowed from its parent app, including remote video conferencing, file-sharing and instantaneous multi-language translation — all supported by Alibaba’s cloud technology.

Read more about how Alibaba is changing how we experience sports here

Alibaba Cloud to Launch New Data Centers in South Korea and Thailand 

Alibaba Cloud announced on Wednesday plans to set up two data centers in South Korea and Thailand in 2022 to assist local companies in digital innovation. 

The new data centers will give local businesses access to Alibaba’s cloud services as they transform and expand their nations’ digital economies. The launch would further expand the global footprint of Alibaba Cloud that operates 80 availability zones in 25 regions around the world.  

“As one of the world’s top three cloud service providers, we are committed to bringing our world-class, hyper-scale cloud infrastructure to Korea and Thailand, so that we can support local businesses to be at the forefront of digital transformation,” said Selina Yuan, General Manager of International Business, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, in a statement. 

The cloud computing unit also unveiled its fourth-generation energy-saving database platform, called “ApasaraCompute Shenlong Architecture”, in an effort to make the cloud more accessible for companies and developers.

Alibaba’s Dr. Feifei Li explains how cloud computing can benefit your business

How American Workwear Brand Dickies Creates Products with China’s Gen-Z Consumers

Industrial wear brand Dickies, part of U.S. fashion giant VF Corp., recently released a collection of hoodies created based on conversations with young Chinese customers, facilitated by Tmall Innovation Center, Alibaba’s product innovation arm.

A household name in the U.S., Dickies enjoys a strong following among Chinese streetwear-loving Generation-Z consumers, who make up more than 50% of the brand’s local consumer base. The brand’s industrial-chic style first gained popularity in the creative community among young designers, skaters, visual artists and dancers in China.

“Our timeless logo t-shirts and hoodies have become wardrobe staples [for] Chinese Gen-Z consumers,” said Adela Tan, Vice President and Managing Director of Asia-Pacific at Dickies, “Yet we strive to bring our connection with them to the next level.”

Read the full story here to see how Gen-Z shoppers are shaping product lines in China

Sustainability, Inclusiveness Center Stage at Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Bonanza

Alibaba’s upcoming 11.11 Global Shopping Festival will see a record-breaking 290,000 merchants offer more than 14 million deals to Chinese consumers over the coming weeks.

But what truly sets this year’s 11.11 apart is a stronger focus on the environment and inclusivity, as the festival becomes a launchpad for innovation that will improve communities everywhere.

“This year’s festival marks a new chapter for 11.11,” Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer at Alibaba Group, said on Wednesday. “We must leverage the power of 11.11 to encourage sustainable development and promote inclusiveness to consumers, merchants and partners across our ecosystem.”

Alibaba’s annual shopping event, the largest worldwide, kicked off with pre-sales at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, with another sales window early next month preceding the November 11 main event.

Learn more about how 11.11 is more sustainable and inclusive than ever before here

Alibaba Unveils Server Chip to Boost its Data Centers’ Performance and Efficiency

Alibaba released on Tuesday a processor chip built on advanced 5-nanometer technology and designed in-house to improve the performance and energy efficiency of its data centers.

Each server chip, called Yitian 710, contains 60 billion transistors that contribute to a 20% higher performance rate and 50% greater energy efficiency compared with other server processors on the market. It will not be available commercially and will be used in proprietary, cloud-native servers recently launched by Alibaba’s cloud computing business unit.

“We plan to use the custom-built chips to support current and future businesses across the Alibaba Group ecosystem,” Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud and Head of Alibaba DAMO Academy, said in a statement.

Read more about Alibaba’s server chip innovation here

Alibaba’s CEO Zhang Talks Open Ecosystems, Bolsters ‘Tech for Good’ Focus

Advances in technology are creating an opportunity to go beyond solving the problems of businesses to creating value for society, said Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang on Tuesday.

The company has been steadily applying technology to tackle society’s problems, from improving education in underdeveloped regions to supporting the world’s largest sporting event, the Olympic Games, during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we explore deeper the connection between different industries and technology, we saw that – rather just tackling commercial challenges – we have to turn our focus towards shared social problems,” Zhang said during his keynote speech.

Learn more about Alibaba’s drive for sustainability and inclusivity here

Cainiao Launches European Parcel Sorting Centers

Cainiao Network unveiled upgraded parcel sorting centers in Spain, France, Germany and Italy this week, a development that will boost delivery efficiency in these countries.

Cainiao operates local warehouses in logistics compounds outside of Madrid, Paris, Bremen and Rome, and the latest launch will see all warehouses except the one in Rome equipped with automated sorting machines. The four centers have a combined maximum daily sorting capacity of 500,000 parcels, which is set to double by March next year.

The recent ramp-up of parcel sorting operations in Europe will create approximately 100 jobs for local residents. 

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11.11 Global Shopping Festival11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2021Alibaba CloudApsara ConferenceArtificial IntelligenceAsian GamesCainiao NetworkDAMO AcademyDingTalkInclusivePremium DingTalk for SportsSustainability

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