Alibaba revealed a suite of software products designed to improve how sports events are run | Source: Shutterstock

Alibaba brings cloud computing to the Olympics

THE Olympic games may be an ancient tradition, but the technology behind it doesn’t have to be. China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, is aiming to bring the games up-to-date, becoming the global event’s official cloud and e-commerce services provider for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Through the digitization of the games, closer interactions between fans and athletes will be enabled, ensuring that the sporting event continues to be a success, Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman, Jack Ma, said on Saturday at the opening of the company’s technology showcase.

At Alibaba’s event, Ma unveiled the Cloud ET Sports Brain: a suite of cloud-based and AI-based services aimed at empowering the future of sporting events.

The platform enables stakeholders to utilize cloud technologies in order to deliver sports events in a secure, stable, and cost-effective manner and to provide fans with a convenient and engaging experience.

“Our long-term partnership with the Olympic Games is the ultimate showcase for Alibaba, both in terms of what we stand for as a company and how we can use our technology to re-imagine the Olympic Games for the digital era,” Ma said. “We believe the future has a better solution for the Olympic Games to keep its prosperity”.

Alibaba is sending 200 to 300 representatives to this year’s Winter Olympics to discover ways to better facilitate the event. Through their cloud initiatives, the e-commerce giant plans to make the Olympic Channel friendlier to a Chinese audience and will be investigating ways to streamline technical processes in order to cut costs for host cities, an issue which has received a fair bit of media attention recently.

Other areas that Alibaba aims to tackle include ticketing, media, mobile technology, security and crowd management, and video services.

The partnership bodes well with the company, who has a goal of reaching two billion consumers and millions of merchants and small businesses by 2036. Currently, Alibaba isn’t much of a global brand, with much of its popularity formed in China.

But now the company is working with the Olympics to grow its brand, gaining recognition outside of China, a market which is becoming more and more saturated.

For the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the partnership with Alibaba is hoped to bring an increase in viewership and increased attendance for the Olympics. Thomas Bach, president of IOC said on Saturday,

“The IOC is entering a new era of digitization which we are doing in partnership with Alibaba,”

“Alibaba is offering us a unique platform to expand the appeal of the Olympic Games and to keep our fans close. I am impressed by the company’s forward-looking, efficiently-driven work and look forward to 10 more years of partnership and even more success,” added Bach.

The partnership between Alibaba Group and IOC began in January of last year, where a long-term strategic partnership was formed to help transform the Olympic Games for the digital era.

China’s e-commerce giant will serve as the official Cloud Services and E-Commerce Platform Services partner, as well as a Founding Partner of the Olympic Channel right through to the 2028 games.