Helping companies in their digital transformation
Alibaba (BABA) has launched a new strategic program that it calls A100. The goal of this program is to transform Alibaba into a one-stop shop that companies all over the world can turn to for solutions to accelerate their digital transformations. Companies that become A100 members will have the opportunity to develop a longstanding relationship with Alibaba in a variety of areas.
Alibaba says the A100 program is part of its evolution from an e-commerce provider to an integrated global technology company. In addition to providing e-commerce services, Alibaba has diversified into providing digital media and cloud services among others. On top of these, Alibaba is also one of the Chinese technology companies developing self-driving vehicles. The other Chinese tech companies with self-driving programs include Baidu (BIDU) and Tencent (TCEHY). Baidu, for instance, last year teamed up with Volvo and Ford Motor (F) on self-driving programs in China.
Alibaba creating smart stores solutions
Alibaba is also creating technologies that can be used to run smart physical retail stores. These are stores where customers can simply walk in, select what they want from the shelves, and leave without having to stand in line to check out.
Amazon (AMZN) has opened several such stores in the United States under the AmazonGo brand. Reuters reported last year that Microsoft (MSFT) was also developing smart stores technology and that it had approached Walmart (WMT) about applying the technology in its stores to keep up with Amazon.
To become a global technology giant, Alibaba is making big investments in research and development (or R&D). In the December quarter, the company spent $1.3 billion, or 8.0% of its revenue, for the quarter on R&D.