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Tencent building Guizhou database

By He Wei and Yang Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-06 09:45

Tencent Holdings Ltd is building its biggest data center in Guizhou province, according to its chairman Pony Ma Huateng, as the firm continues to mine vast amounts of data to bolster a number of businesses including its own.

The construction project is currently underway in the mountainous area of the hinterland. It is only a few months before servers will be installed, Ma told a media briefing in Beijing over the weekend.

"The temperature and humidity level (in Guizhou) are highly suitable for data storage. I hope to place here the most valuable and important data, such as that of the industrial cloud," he said.

Guizhou is shaping up to become China's big data valley. Apple Inc announced plans last year to open its first China-based database in the province.

Ma said Tencent is employing data to construct the industrial internet, and building a big-data platform for Sany Group Co Ltd, the nation's leading machinery equipment maker, to help it detect and predict malfunctions throughout the production cycle in real time.

Apart from manufacturing, Ma said the firm has just established an "intelligent retail strategy unit" providing data-based digital solutions for retail and commercial property clients.

He said the new entity will consolidate resources from all business units and provide capabilities connecting customers and merchants through a number of vehicles, ranging from cloud computing, artificial intelligence and functions that are embedded in the ubiquitous WeChat app.

Despite an array of investments into offline retail assets including Wanda Commercial Properties Co, Ma reiterated Tencent's stance to refrain from starting its own retail business and instead become an enabler.

"Our approach is decentralized, meaning only the retailers and property developers have access to their data," he said. "We act merely as utility providers."

A lot of these data-backed capabilities are built around the traffic-generating WeChat. The app, which allows video chats, mobile payments, civic services and a slate of online-to-offline demands, has attracted more than 1 billion active users globally, Ma said on Monday.

This would spell a boon to analyzing and predicting behaviors of customers, who rely on the software to video chat, hail taxis, book hotels and buy funds.

"Data are important to enhance the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and we believe platforms with huge customer behavior data such as Tencent and Alibaba will continue to be the largest beneficiaries from such growth," said Shi Jialong, chief analyst at China Internet & New Media at Nomura Securities Co Ltd.

According to the brokerage, roughly 30 percent of the time Chinese people spend on mobile phones is occupied by WeChat.

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