How Alibaba Cloud is Disrupting the IoT Industry through Innovations
Wearables, AR/VR headsets, smart homes, drones, autonomous vehicles, and smart cities have already begun to affect the real world profoundly.
Fixing the Fragmented IoT Ecosystem
However, from the perspective of the objects themselves, the development of the Internet of Things has been too unevenly distributed. Many big companies and start-ups have embarked on a new journey to awaken everything, adopting divergent approaches and offering different capabilities. Some prefer to connect, others have platforms, some prefer hardware, and others focus on applications, all heavily influenced by their natural endowments and commercial heritage. But to some extent, this has worsened the IoT imbalance.
Alibaba Cloud has chosen one of the most comprehensive, but also the most difficult road to transform this ecosystem. Alibaba Cloud officially launched the Link IoT platform at the 2017 Cloud Habitat meeting with the announcement of the tri-part strategy “platform + market + standard.” At this time Alibaba also put forth their plan to reach the goal of connecting 10 billion devices over the next five years.
Taking this rocky road, Alibaba Cloud aims to empower the Internet of Things industry, starting from an underlying development platform with unified standards, moving through to the upper application scale distribution.
Alibaba Cloud Link has launched dozens of cloud-based businesses and products for this purpose and has jointly established hundreds of industry chain partners to set up the ICA Global Standards Alliance. In the process, it has established the Internet of Things market in Ali’s already well-established e-commerce system. With no barrier to entry, solution providers are free to use their preferred hardware and software products, including cloud-based products.
Together “platform + market + standard” form the core elements of the IoT Ecology. When matured, the Internet of Things will be irresistible throughout consumer, business, and industrial spaces. But what gives Alibaba Cloud the confidence to invest on this scale and go through such a rigorous process?
Exploring Some Real-World Applications of IoT
Enhancing Eleme’s Food-Delivery Business
Eleme is China’s leading food delivery service provider with a daily volume of more than 9 million orders. However, it was facing issues in delivery-efficiency and had trouble discovering the source of the slowdowns. Their delivery staff wasn’t lazy; it worked diligently. However, they had to wait for a lot of time during the cooking and packaging of the food. Restaurant owners had their complaints; kitchen production was noisy, and cooks could only communicate about delivery orders by yelling. Moreover, during peak order times, delivery orders often ended up in the wrong hands.
Alibaba Cloud Used IoT to Streamline Operations
Alibaba Cloud provided Eleme with an IoT-based distribution process optimization. The delivery men no longer have to wait in the restaurant. After the cook finishes his job, he hits a key integrated with the Alibaba Cloud IoT SDK, and the information gets sent to the Eleme delivery driver by way of Alibaba Cloud. The system can immediately deploy the nearest delivery driver to fetch orders, and, at the same time, inform customers that their order is already on the way. This has greatly improved delivery efficiency.
In the next phase, Alibaba Cloud plans to equip every delivery vehicle with an IoT button. In this way, delivery drivers can not only securely indicate that they are taking an order, but Eleme also gets the entire distribution process’s data. Moreover, Eleme gets to know where the slowdowns are and use that data to achieve process optimization.
In all fairness, even though this IoT application will enhance the experience of at least several million people, it is not complicated. Alibaba Cloud IoT makes full use of IoT connectivity; it lets the objects issue their instructions and build a data-based dynamic provisioning system, using data to reduce human disorder. Once the platform standards are mature, similar applications will begin to emerge everywhere.
For businesses, the Internet of Things is already a necessity for new product placement and cost reduction. According to a projection, by the year 2020, the Internet of Things project will account for 43% of IT budgets.
Expanding C-Chip’s Product Portfolio
Shenzhen-based C-Chip’s Bluetooth voice chip module has occupied a high market share for many years now. They have recently embedded Alibaba Cloud Link in their legacy products. Such headphones and speakers using this modular product can easily become an interactive voice assistant able to check the weather, book airline tickets, and more.
New products, obviously, have very different attractiveness and competitiveness; C-Chip is the first company to release a product with Alibaba Cloud’s IoT Market Solutions.
These two simple use cases show that the Internet of Things is already profoundly changing our lives, businesses, and industries. All kinds of new situations and needs are cropping up constantly. No giant, including Alibaba, has time to pause, even for a second.
Alibaba Cloud’s comprehensive ecosystem development for the Internet of Things will significantly reduce the cost of development. Partners can replicate the mature solutions and collaborate to develop new ones by leveraging Alibaba
Cloud’s IoT ecosystem.
Improving Urban Management
In Wuxi City’s Hongshan, Alibaba Cloud Link connects each of the town’s street lamps, every watercourse, and every gas pipeline to cloud sensors. Alibaba Cloud Link has set up a cloud-based platform for integration, so that a city is no longer just a group of buildings in the physical world, but also has a presence in the world of data.
Hongshan’s administrators can monitor the energy consumption of street lights, rising and falling water levels, or check if gas pipelines are facing any obstruction, all in real-time. The system enhances the data intelligence and allows city administrators to improve public services. At the same time, in an Internet of Things market rich with applications, Alibaba Cloud’s cooperation with the government jointly supports ISVs to develop applications and services. To ensure that the entire city operates under a standard system rather than fragmented groups, Alibaba Cloud and hundreds of partners unveiled their first IoT whitepaper at the ISV Consortium.
Hongshan Town is essentially a microcosm of the Internet of Things industry, and Alibaba Cloud Link provides the complete platform + market + standards configuration. In this configuration, the idea is to not only develop the three areas but also focus on how to connect these three to each other. This means connecting hardware + software + cloud technology + front-end customers + backstage developers to form an interconnected ecosystem of all things, providing one-stop service to partners.
Hongshan’s administrators not only can easily achieve intelligent urban governance — greatly improving the happiness index of residents — but also can borrow ecological energy to attract and support the high-end industries of the Internet of Things and feed the urban economy.
It is Time to Embrace IoT Disruptions
Before all of this happened, Alibaba Cloud Link chose to be the creator of the Internet of Things infrastructure. Ku Wei, GM of Alibaba’s Internet-of-Things business, deeply believes: “Objects will no longer be static, frozen in place. Instead, they will share a clever dialog with humanity. All we do now is to welcome a new era in which all things wake up.”