Secret to Alibaba success? The right combination

Secret to Alibaba success? The right combination

I’ve been in Las Vegas this week covering CES, the annual event hosted by the Consumer Technology Association that is the undisputed, worldwide center of technology at this time. Approximately 175,000 people come here from countries around the world and share ideas about business, new technologies and more. It is a glimpse of mankind at its best as people peacefully and enthusiastically embrace new technologies, new ideas, and new ways to make money.

One of the new ventures announced here this year is a partnership between CES and Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant. Jack Ma is the legendary entrepreneur who founded Alibaba and leads it forward.

The general manager of, Kuo Zhang, came to CES to make the announcement about the company’s involvement. Additionally, however, he sat down and shared a few minutes with me to offer a glimpse into the company’s philosophy.

He talked about their customers and their vision of making the entire process of commerce — from sourcing to trading — smoother and more natural. He is following Jack Ma’s vision to increase the human-to-human perspective and connection.

One of the ways he shared that they are leveraging technology is with a dramatic break-through in communication. They are planning to use real-time language translation between 16 languages. That means I can talk to a supplier or potential customer in my native language of English (American English, at that) and they would be able to understand in a variety of other languages like Spanish, German, Mandarin and others. This opens a world (literally) of opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses to do business internationally.

Alibaba now regularly is handling the various steps necessary in the process for their 10 million customers. In addition to that, they are planning to bring people together, much like they are doing at CES, so that they not only meet each other but also process transactions and do business together on the spot.

You can access the full interview via this link. I was honored to learn that this was his first English-language interview and that they wanted to share that time, and these insights, with us.

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