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Ant Group IPO - Cool Innovations from Alibaba - Delivery Hell.

Ant Group IPO - Cool Innovations from Alibaba - Delivery Hell.
By ChinaBriefs Team • Issue #9 • View online
Hi everyone,
here we are - Autumn 2020 arrived, and COVID-19 is still with us. But while life in China is more or less back to normal (for now) and many people stopped wearing masks, Europe might experience the beginning of a second wave. Let’s keep fingers crossed that things won’t get back to where they were in Spring - on both continents. 
But enough about our pandemic times. Here are the topics we picked for today:
  1. Ant Group gets ready for its IPO.
  2. Alibaba keeps innovating.*
  3. Delivery Hell courtesy of your AI Boss.
As always, if you have any feedback, do let is know! Pls send us an email ( or leave a comment on one of our channels on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Thx & stay healthy 😷
Your ChinaBriefs Team
*Btw, it might look otherwise, but we are NOT sponsored by Alibaba (yet? 😉) - they just happen to do lots of cool stuff!

Click for Ant Group IPO Prospectus.
Click for Ant Group IPO Prospectus.
1 - Ant Group - The biggest IPO. Ever.
The biggest IPO ever so far was Saudi Aramco’s, which brought in $29.4 billion. But this record will probably be broken in the coming weeks by Ant Group (formerly ALIPAY / Ant Financial).
Ant Group is a good example of how Chinese startups often evolve: they start with a relatively simple (= crappy) product and quickly transform it into something extraordinary. But then, instead of stop innovating and focus on scaling, they use their new assets to build ecosystems on top of the original idea. 
ALIPAY started in 2004 basically as an escrow service for Taobao - Alibaba’s eBay clone. They quickly moved into mobile payment and became the market leader there - which was already quite impressive. But they didn’t rest on their laurels.
Instead, Ant Financial was spun off (under somewhat murky circumstances) and built a whole ecosystem around its two main strategic assets: access to data and access to customer funds.
Today Ant Group is the most important digital finance company in the world with three areas of business on top of mobile payment as the core: InvestmentTech, CreditTech and InsurTech.
If you want to know in detail how it happened, check out this article on
How Ant Group Became the Biggest Fintech Company in the World
Another good source to learn about Ant Group is the latest episode of the Tech Buzz China podcast:
Ep. 74: Ant Group: The Biggest IPO ... Ever? — Tech Buzz China
Btw, do you wonder where the name “Ant” comes from? It shows you what the company’s focus is - not other big corporations, but lots of small customers and micro-companies. Or as Ant puts it: they want to support “the little guys”…  
2 - Cool Innovations from Alibaba.
One reason why Alibaba has been so successful for such a long time is the fact that it keeps innovating relentlessly. Here are three recent examples - the first two just from last week:
WUYING - a Cloud Device for the Rest of us:
On Friday Alibaba Cloud introduced Wuying - a device as small as a portable hard drive, which brings the full power of the Alibaba Cloud to every monitor it is connected to (from an SCMP article): 
“Wuying is not only designed for home-use but can also be used as a replacement for computers across government agencies and enterprises. All you have to do is connect it to a screen, then you can use it to do anything you would use a PC to do,” Alibaba Cloud president Jeff Zhang said during the online event.
“With the evolution of cloud technology, everyone will have a cloud computer. You can purchase resources anytime you want, scale the computing power as you need, and release the resources whenever you are done with them,”
Remember: this is the same Alibaba Cloud that is able to process over 500.000 orders per second on events like 11.11. ! 😳
XUNXI - The Future of the Digital Factory: 
Back in Oct 2016, Jack Ma introduced the idea of the “Five Big Trends”: he predicted that digitization would fundamentally change five areas of business - retail, manufacturing, finance, technology and resource. 
Since then, New Retail became such an intense focus of Alibaba’s work that they more or less stopped using the term, because it is considered old by now.
Next up New Manufacturing - which got a big push last Thursday when Alibaba revealed a completely re-designed factory concept called Xunxi (fast rhino).
While Industry 4.0 more or less is trying to digitize established manufacturing processes, New Manufacturing is re-inventing it the same way New Retail has re-invented retail.
It fits perfectly into a completely new customer-driven production paradigm called “Consumer-to-manufacturing or C2M”.
“When we started our digital factory initiative, the whole driving force was about consumption change,” Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said at the WEF event. “How can we upgrade the supply to meet the quick-changing demands of customers and, most importantly, how can we share the insights of customer behaviors on the digital platforms and create new products fitting to the customer needs
Unlike traditional manufacturing, which takes the "made-to-stock” approach, Xunxi is designed for “made-to-sell” production informed by consumer insights and real-time market trends aggregated from the Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.
Technology is also leveraged throughout the factory to streamline the production process. For example, there’s an AI-driven advanced planning system that helps with scheduling and adjusting workflows to ensure maximum efficiency. By processing real-time feeds gathered from thousands of IoT touchpoints across the manufacturing floor, the system can alert staff and operators of any issues that arise so that they can be solved on the spot.
Alibaba’s Xunxi Technology Brings ‘New Manufacturing’ Model to Factories
Alibaba’s Xunxi Technology Brings ‘New Manufacturing’ Model to Factories
Like New Retail, Xunxi combines an extreme focus on customer needs with lots of highly relevant data + AI and re-thinks everything accordingly.
Alibaba chose the apparel industry to test-drive this approach because it’s an industry where consumers are showing a constantly accelerating demand for more-personalized designs – something that large-scale mass production is unable to deliver.
But over time Alibaba certainly will try to revolutionize way more than just the fashion industry…
FRESHIPPO - new Store Formats:
Having successfully re-invented the supermarket with Freshippo (formerly known as HEMA) doesn’t mean that Alibaba is done. Instead, they just launched a whole bunch of new store formats under the same brand this year.
Most of those new store concepts probably won’t last. This are just test runs to see what works and what does not. But expect the successful formats to be rolled out at breakneck speed!
Take a look: 
A Tour of Freshippo's Newest Store Formats
A Tour of Freshippo's Newest Store Formats
3 - Delivery Hell courtesy of your AI Boss.
Chinese consumers in cities like Beijing or Shanghai expect goods ordered online to be delivered not within the same day but the same hour - very often within 30 minutes or less. This is made possible by a perfectly digitized logistics platform - together with an army of low paid drivers under the command of powerful AIs
It is impossible for an outsider to imagine how much stress the humans in these systems experience every day. But via the Jeffrey Ding’s ChinaAI Newsletter (which we highly recommend!), we found an interesting thread on Twitter that gives you a terrifying glimpse into what it is like to work under an AI “boss”.
Yiqin Fu
The Chinese magazine Renwu just published a long feature on “algorithms and food delivery drivers”.

Apparently the delivery platforms ask drivers to follow ***walking*** rather than driving directions, so drivers have no choice but to go against the traffic, run red lights, etc.
A complete translation of the Chinese article mentioned in the tweet can be found on Google Drive: driver Zhu Dahe clearly remembered that it was one day in October 2019 – when he saw the system delivery time for an order, his hand holding the handlebar was sweaty: “2 kilometers, delivery within 30 minutes” – As someone who did food delivery in Beijing for two years, he knew that the previous shortest delivery time for the same distance was 32 minutes. But starting from that day, those two minutes were gone.
At about the same time, Meituan drivers also experienced similar “losing-time incidents.” A Meituan driver who specializes in running long-distance deliveries in Chongqing found that the delivery time for orders within the same distance had changed from 50 minutes to 35 minutes; his roommate also did deliveries, and his delivery time limit for 3 kilometers had also been reduced to 30 minutes.
This is not the first instance of when time disappeared from the system. (…)
Wednesday next week, we will be speaking at the 1st virtual edition of the ‘Fashion & Retail Academy’ hosted by Facebook.
Topic: New Retail vs. Omnichannel - What can we learn from Digital China about the Future of Retail?
Time & Date: Sept 30th 2020, 02:00 - 03:30pm CEST.
One day later - on Thursday, Oct 1st 2020 - we will host the latest edition of the Digital China Remote Workshop powered by the Tomorrow Academy (sorry, German only).
If you are interested in participating, use the promo code CBRIEF25 for a 25% discount. We would love to see you there! 
Remote Workshop "Digital China" @ Tomorrow Academy.
Remote Workshop "Digital China" @ Tomorrow Academy.
Last, but not least: Quote of the Day.
“We have turned the U.S. "stranglehold list” into our scientific research task list.
– Bai Chunli 白春礼 ,  President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Bai Chunli  白春礼 ,  President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Bai Chunli 白春礼 , President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Did you enjoy this issue?
ChinaBriefs Team

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