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Experts Highlight Differences Between Internet Plus and Big Data
August 25, 2016 News

Big data will bring opportunities for those who want to set up their own businesses in the next five to ten years, but only those that have developed technologies hard for others to duplicate via their innovative work can survive and thrive, participants of the Era of China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum held at Peking University said.

E Weinan, dean of the Beijing Institute of Big Data Research, said there is a big difference between Internet Plus and big data.

“While the internet has a solid foundation, which Chinese companies can draw upon and enjoy better use amid China’s huge market, there has not yet been a mature technology path in big data that Chinese companies can rely upon.”

Development in big data still needs to be boosted by technology innovation, E emphasized.

Although big data is a hot word in China, when the buzz goes away, people will find big data is a sector that has technology barriers, says E, a Peking University professor who has led a national research project on unstructured data.

E further explains that big data differs from other scientific subjects, as there can be a seamless connection between technology innovation and the market.

He cited recent fingerprint data technologies, which one of his students has co-developed, as an example. He said his student’s invention, based on first-generation technologies developed in the 1970s but fast-tracked in just several months with the help of machine learning, has already been used in the Ministry of Public Security of China’s fingerprint data base. However, the professor did not detail these technologies in his 15-minute speech.E, also dean of Peking University’s Yuanpei School, which hosted the forum, said he is confident that as long as Chinese scholars solve China’s challenging problems, they can naturally rise to the top level of the world’s big data science landscape, since frontier research questions all derive from the market and China features a unique one due to its huge population, different language and culture.

E also shared his concerns on talent shortages and his advice to build the big data subject at universities.

He said that if needs could not be met in the future, talent shortages could be a “headache”.

China’s big data market is expected to reach 822.88 billion yuan ($124 billion) in 2020, up from 76.7 billion yuan in 2014, a report released last August by Guiyang Big Data Exchange showed.

Wang Xiao, founder of Unity Ventures, agreed with E on the importance of technology innovation in big data development.

The PC internet era, starting from the year 2000, has witnessed the birth and development of Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, while the mobile internet era, beginning in the year 2010, has seen the flourishment of location-based apps, such as Meituan, a group buying app, and Didi Chuxing, a taxi hailing app, said Wang. Wang was also one of the seven founding members of Baidu.

He said that over these years, the country has witnessed a lot of innovation in business models, such as with China’s Didi, an app similar to Uber. The two companies have recently merged.

However, this might not work in the next era.

Wang explained that the next five to ten years could be called the “smart internet” era, featuring an avalanche of data and more smart solutions enabled by machine learning. He cited Caiyun Weather, an app which can forecast weather in one or two hours, as an example. The app is designed to tell users what time it will rain so football-lovers, for example, can decide in advance whether to go out to play on a Saturday.

“This is impossible in the past, but with the increase of data amount, more can be done now,” said Wang, who has invested in more than 100 projects since he left Baidu in 2010, having witnessed development of the company from a seven-member startup to a giant that has employed thousands.

“Entrepreneurial wave is waning in the mobile internet sector and rising in IOT (internet of things), but it will take one to two years for valuable applications to show up.” Wang said, adding that for early-stage investors, speed outwights data.

Zhao Zhanbo, a marketing professor at Peking University, shared his 4D model to participants at the forum.

He said those who wanted to start up their own business needed to consider “demand, data, deliver and dynamic”.

“You need to think whether you can meet consumers’ actual needs, whether your business generates data, whether you can deliver in time and whether you can provide dynamic communication channels,” Zhao said.

Qu Erxi, vice president of Beijing Wofengshou Tech Company Limited, which owns Yuncaiyuan, a B2B platform connecting 16,000 vegetable plantations in suburbs and retail stores in city communities, told that his platform has been optimizing storage and logistics according to different time, based on data accumulated from production sites and consumers.

“We would predict consumption of different types of vegetables at different time in different seasons in different cities on data we already have, but we are still expanding and still at the stage of data collection, not up to the level of big data,” Qu said.

“Data is not our focus now as we need to made deals first although we have plans for data in the very beginning.”

Beijing Tianchen Yunnongchang Company Limited, a shareholder of Yuncaiyuan, has formed a strategic cooperation with Sugon Star&Cloud Company Limited, a tech company specializing in big data and cloud computing, to share a bottom structure on cloud computing platforms and other resources.

“Alibaba’s Jack Ma, at the beginning of his career, was not doing ‘data’ business — he was trying to improve transaction, from which ‘data’ came naturally,” Qu said.

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