Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is extending a hand to companies such as SAP SE keen on operating in China, proffering a window into a market that’s increasingly hostile to foreign technology.
China’s largest e-commerce company is aiming to help them comply with local regulations and sell their products, as it seeks news areas of growth to combat a slowing economy at home. Its new AliLaunch program makes use of its cloud computing platform and can help clients with joint ventures and marketing. Its biggest customer so far is Germany’s SAP, which will sell its Hana data-software and services on Alibaba’s cloud.
Securing an influential Chinese partner has become key to cracking the domestic market. China has championed homegrown services over foreign technology, after saying last year it will block software, servers and computing equipment. A tightening of regulations on everything from data to content has also threatened the ability of U.S. companies to participate in China’s $465 billion market for information products.
Alibaba Cloud “is able to help its overseas technology partners comply with data security laws in the country,” Alibaba vice president Yu Sicheng told a conference in Beijing. The company said it aims to sign up 50 partners in the next 12 months.
Alibaba is betting on internet-based computing and big data to boost growth in the next decade. The company is exploring artificial intelligence to help provide real-time comments for basketball games, predict traffic or public sentiment. While the cloud division contributed just 4.7% of revenue in the March quarter, it’s Alibaba’s fastest-growing business and a primary driver of growth over the longer term.