The following is a speech given by Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang to the company’s Platform Management team as part of their kick-off meeting for the new fiscal year. The Platform Management team is charged with, most notably, keeping Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms free of counterfeit goods.
Good afternoon, everyone! I think this place is very good; the campus is full of energy. We are a young team. It’s a good opportunity to return to the campus, to a small hall, to gather together to have our annual meeting.
As soon as I entered, I could feel everyone’s vitality and energy. We call this energy “fusion,” which is to gather all the various partners from the eco-system together. First of all, our team needs to be together, all the inside team energy needs to be together. Normally, our related teams are always in a very tense work mode. This afternoon it’s a rare opportunity to get together. We can talk about the new direction and strategy of the future fiscal year [for] platform management, under the word fusion. It’s very important to let everyone form a clear big picture.
First of all, for Alibaba Group, Platform Management is actually a new business unit. From last year when Jessie (Zheng Junfang) came to Platform Management, this was a new business unit, assuming very noble duties and missions, but also very difficult. Alibaba has developed from an original trading platform into a trillion-yuan business, the world’s unique entity. If you call it an online economy, that’s actually not appropriate. Though it is an online format, it is actually a real economy.
Last time in the meeting with the Provincial Trade and Industry Bureau, I said that Alibaba’s economy is a totally transparent, solid economy. We are not only a real economy, [we are] even more. We have a further advantage over it in “total transparency.” Of course, this full transparency also brings a lot of problems. Many challenges, including more visual, economic-specific problems, are also more likely to surface. This is the reason we set up a Platform Management department.
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In the past year, everyone did a lot of solid work. My feeling is, in the past year our entire platform consumer experience and the perception were undergoing significant changes, many problems about the platform that we are concerned about over the years have significantly improved. This is inseparable from our Platform Management team’s hard work in the past year. On behalf of the group, thank you all who contributed to the platforms’ management in the past year!
Actually, it is difficult to do this work. We all know that Ali is such a young platform. We have a lot of business opportunities, we have endless ideas, and we all are willing to try. Everyone wants to stand in the spotlight, do Double 11, and do something [big]. I would like to tell you that the most important thing is, the main reason that we can develop is because Alibaba Group has a group of colleagues like you all, who are persistent, who are willing to keep doing one thing, and insist on doing it well.
There are always more opportunities. We will have more varieties of opportunities, but we have to do it on a solid foundation, ensure a good user experience, maintain our healthy ecosystem, then we can prosper and thrive. A prosperous ecosystem, first of all, is certainly a healthy ecosystem. What we have done in the past, and many changes over the past year, all occurred in this process.
In this process, as a fully transparent, real economy, the challenge we are facing is also unprecedented. You are all very impressive, because a lot of things we do here have no reference to follow. We are doing real-economy management. This work is done by such a group of people, a very young team. It’s normal that while facing every day’s work, there are all sorts of challenges and troubles. Why?
You just need to do these few things. All things are created by us, we must understand the laws of the operation of this economy, find the key points to develop our strategy further, to implement.
This is what our team is great at, and also the higher requirements for everyone. Because there’s no path originally in beginning of the world, the same applies to the platform management. There’s no special platform management team in the world. Now the path is under our feet, the way we walked created the path. Last year, we got some space; the original fuzzy things began to take shape. But I think the next year, as the internal and the external situation changes, the entire internet ecosystem changes, the integration of the internet ecosystem and the commercial world, and a more comprehensive commercialized internet, the development of the entire Alibaba economy, and the development of an online ecology will bring more challenges to everyone, a lot of problems that will need to be resolved dynamically.
It is because of this consideration, we have combined the domestic part and global part of Platform Management together as a whole, where we can really consider and implement as a whole. In such a new pattern, to give everyone a better space for development and make a lot of things more effective, and at the same time turn the effectiveness into a voice that can spread this voice not only throughout China, but also all over the world. So that everyone can see the results of Ali’s Platform Management, our determination, and our measures, which is a very important work we have been doing in the past.
Because of this, this year with the start of the New Year’s plan, we will have a lot to share. For the group, still the same word: Platform Management is Alibaba’s lifeline. There’s no limit on the input on Platform Management in regards to Alibaba Group’s resources. I am here to promise you that.
The healthy development of the whole ecosystem is the cornerstone of long-term stability. Today our ecosystem has changed from the original concept of only considering the buyers and the sellers, into a variety of economic roles, every one of which works together in this ecosystem; interacting with a variety of economic behaviors facing the common consumers. This is diverse ecosystem.
What is an ecosystem? There are multiple economic roles in the ecosystem, each character has its own economic interest, and each role also interacts with each other with the economic behavior. How our team can in this regard, first, help get rid of the evil; second, encourage the good. This is the situation our platform is facing today, and our request to everyone in the group.
Today is a rare opportunity; I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my expectations. The simple summary points are below:
First, this year, we all know that Alibaba Group’s business is very diverse, from the earliest B2B, to C, to the Cloud, to digital entertainment, to a large number of fundamental technology infrastructures, security, platform management, marketing, PR, customer service, they are all our business.
In fact, the business can be diversified in form, but the core word is only one, that is, “customer value.” For the platform management team, we also need to be clearer about who are our customers, how do we fulfill the value of customer service and the customer-service experience.
Over the past year, as a consumer, my experience has changed significantly. There is no doubt that the Platform Management team has done a lot of solid work. I think the rights holder is a very important customer. How can we make it better? How to optimize our platform design, our interface, the platform, the service measures and the process with the rights holders? How can we really make the rights holders enjoy and experience our solid work? This is what I think we can do immediately.
We have many things we can do in the backstage that can empower the right holders, be it their intellectual property protection, or their cooperation with us. This is my first hope to everyone. When we do things, we should think of the big picture, starting with the little things. But to be clear that this is not a small thing. Everything we do, we should let the customers have feelings about it, only when he has feelings then will he have recognition. Only in this way can we create more positive, more comprehensive cooperation on the basis of mutual trust, which is my first expectation for everyone.
Second, our group’s other relevant teams all must participate in the Platform Management kick off. The Platform Management work must be the joint force of all the related teams in the group. Our share, our search, customer service, our PR, our merchandise management, all the teams are linked together to be able to complete this work, because it is definitely not a one team thing.
What do I particularly want the joint force for? Let our big-data capabilities, our technical capacity play a very important role in the platform management work. Essentially, we are an internet company, [and we] have a strong data capacity and technical capacity. The rapid development of our entire front business over the past few years is built on the technology-driven, all business data basis.
In the Platform Management work, how can we digitalize the platform management? We all know that we are facing 500 million consumers, nearly 10 million sellers, not to mention the various other roles: service providers, partners, logistics companies, courier companies. All the roles constitute the complex of this economy of all beings. We can’t use hands to do things here, because it’s endless. Only by using our data, our transparent real economy, can we do it. The biggest advantage is the “transparent.” What is transparent? Data. Because data is transparent. All economic behavior is digitalized. We’ll use this digital economic behavior to bring us the opportunity to make our Platform Management work be really driven by big data.
I often talk about this, Jessie heard about it many times, here a lot of Platform Management team leaders have heard about it many times, too. [In] doing platform management [we] must pay attention to the economic organization or people behind the economic behavior, rather than an ID. [It’s] not about an internet shop. The internet shop is also an ID. All acts, since it is a real economy, are made by real people; be it an economic organization, a business, or an individual, they are all real and live people.
We have done online for too long, we see every situation as what happens in an online shop, as what happened to an ID, but actually they are not. They are real people. Not to mention, their behavior is just the tip of an iceberg, more than the internet. How can we use big data to track, to be able to dig out the real behavior, from his online behavior linked to his entire industry behavior? Many black industry, gray industry, are also the industrial chain, also big data. They are very strong in using this ability.
How we better use our data, our technology, not just do a flat internet, a desktop attack and defense, but really [go] deep into the perspective of the industry chain, really catches the essence of the original problem. I think that regardless of fakes, fake promotion, or intellectual property protection, all the problems are reflected by the internet, like a mirror, because we are transparent.
But the origin of the problem, everyone knows, is from offline. If no one produces fakes, how could someone sell fakes? If there is no established scale fake system, hundreds of thousands of organized conducts of fake lines, how could the so-called fake promotion, fake top listing and a variety of such behaviors appear? How could businesses encounter such a problem; how can we see such a phenomenon? Only by using big data and our technology can we utilize our knowledge and experience into such an operation, and can depend on us sitting in the little halls to make it.
Of course, we have more relevant teams, technical teams, in the corner of the campus across the way. Even if we put all of us, more than ten thousand people together, it’s not enough to run such an economy. We can do it only by technology, and by the data. This is my second expectation for everyone.
Third, what is the core work of platform management? Everyone’s first response is: to “crackdown on fakes,” “crackdown on fake promotion,” “protection of intellectual property rights,” “better serve the rights holder,” “better serve consumers,” “cooperate well with government services,” “cooperate well with the international organizations.” I have a higher demand for everyone. I thought out the name of Platform Management. On the first day when Jessie came to Platform Management, I told her that what the platform needs to do is really to study the entire market mechanism. Not just to crack down afterwards, but to let our mechanisms punish evil and encourage the good. This is how our market mechanism needs to study more as an economic entity, having a team, a colleague in such an economy.
A long time ago, Jack Ma the teacher said a well-known saying; Alibaba needs economists, needs sociologists. Today, we see the economist became a host! Great! I think we need more grounded economists, we need more grounded sociologists. We need to combine these economists’ and sociologists’ knowledge and ability together with the experience of our frontline staff, really standing on an economic mechanism designing point of view, standing in a real economic structure point of view to plan our work, to plan the market mechanism, rather than just focusing on fighting and defense. If the mechanism is not right, the more you fight, the more will appear, the more you defend, the more you will get exhausted; only when the mechanism is right, the healthy business order will become the natural flow.
I think to everyone here who’s working for Platform Management, you are all very young. How can you stand one step up from your usual working point of view? Stand on the point where you are a member of the platform, rather than, I am just doing one thing for the platform, just a platform planner and practitioner? How to stand on this perspective to think about how our economy should plan the mechanism, how to implement the mechanism? Today, this is what we urgently need to do, after developing all the way until today for Alibaba as an economy. And the first to undertake this work is all of you here, so this are my greatest expectations for everyone.
These are my three expectations. I hope in the new year, in our process of “gathering” and “transforming,” we can really make our ecology more prosperous and healthier. Serve our customers, our users and partners better. Everyone is tired usually, why? Because things are endless, all kinds of things to do, big things small things, a lot of cooperation; we are all very busy too. But I hope that everyone can think about this matter from a more relaxed point of view.
In fact, think about it, it’s rare that we have such a working opportunity today. We are really very lucky, including me. We are able to stand on such a big stage, to face a real economy, to take on such a responsibility, to learn, to practice, this is a rare opportunity for each of us. Let us all use this kind of learning mentality, with the exploration of the future mindset, constantly upgrade ourselves, really do a good job of Platform Management, let us make this platform better and better! Thank you.