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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA)’s New Initiative “Tianchi”

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) just like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is running an undercover department called the Institute of Data Science and Technologies (IDST) which is running the initiative “Tianchi” which is led by Silicon IT expert and author of Big Data Revolution Jack Tu. The secretive department according to WantChinaTimes is made of 150 employees mostly scientists dedicated to doing things that other people in the company cannot do.

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Just like Google’s Google X, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s IDST is dedicated to analyzing big data and coming up with advanced technology among other research based tasks that CEO, Jack Ma aspires to use to drive the future. The online sensation is currently running a competition that challenges young contestant’s capability to use big data to impact other business areas. The winning team that comes with the most creative idea stands to walk away with $160,000.

Tu believes that leading IT experts are becoming more willing to use their experience in improving China based firms seen by the recent migrations of experts from Silicon Valley straight into Chinese internet giants. Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) has already added to its ranks former Google X researcher Wu Enda with the other leaders in IDST being professor at Purdue University and Michigan state university.

China is slightly behind the U.S in terms of big data and cloud computing having accounted for 14% of the world’s data; the figure is expected to reach highs of 21% by 2020. It is for this reasons that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) is running the competition in a bid to tap some of the finest upcoming talents and fresh blood in the space. The competition has already seen a team of six college students walk away with the first prize of 1 million Yuan on developing a system that works 16.9% more efficient than what was being used on Tmall.

The computational method developed by the students has since been applied on Alibaba’s online shopping platform with success. One of the members of the team has been offered an opportunity to join the e-commerce giant upon graduation. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) will be investing $2.4 million annually for the contest as a way of offering contestants an opportunity to interact with each other while also providing them with career opportunities.

Contestants this year will be given three tasks that involve coming up with a formula that uses image recognition tools for matching female apparel in Taobao online platform. They will also be required to device a formula for predicting future daily cash flow on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s Yu’ebao and finally predict shopping habits and preferences of mobile users on Taobao.

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