GUIYANG, April 24 -- Guizhou Province, one of the least developed in China, has emerged at the center of China's big data ambitions, with Alibaba Group and other tech leaders moving to cash in on the big data boom.
Alibaba signed a framework agreement with the Provincial Government of Guizhou on April 17 to use the province as its industrial base for the development of cloud computing and big data.
Big data refers to enormous sets of data that cannot be analyzed using traditional processing. The data can be used by businesses and governments to analyze trends and improve services.
Both sides will cooperate to cultivate a data trade market, intelligent logistics system and an experience center for the online-to-offline business of department store operator Intime Retail Group Co. Alibaba announced last month that it would pay 692 million U.S. dollars for a 26-percent stake in the Hong Kong-listed retail group.
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, said at the signing ceremony that Guizhou boasts good potential for the development of the big data industry and enjoys geographical advantages.
Guizhou's visibility has been rising in China's big data frontier as a number of heavyweight telecommunication carriers, including China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile, have moved into the province's Guian New District since October to establish cloud computing bases and big data centers.
So far, more than 100 big data enterprises, including Baidu, Jingdong and Dawning, and Internet giants such as Sina.com and Sohu.com have moved in. ( In the eyes of Li Guojie, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the swarming in of heavyweight players is not driven by bandwagon appeal.
According to Li, the province is an ideal industrial base for big data development. Cool weather, plenty of energy resources, well-developed equipment manufacturing, military industry, sufficient power supply and lower electricity prices are all advantages to lure data centers to set up bases in the region, Li said.
As one of China's least developed provinces, Guizhou is eyeing the big data industry to boost its economic sustainability while China speeds up its reforms. In 2012, the GDP per capita of Guizhou was only 50.9 percent of the national average, the lowest in the country.
Although rich in energy and natural resources, Guizhou has seen its economy heavily dependent on traditional heavy industries such as chemical manufacturing and ferrous metal production, whose growth potential have been declining.
Guizhou Governor Chen Min'er has taken the big data industry as an opportunity for the province to add jobs, build new economic boosters and lift the personal income of residents in the coming years.
The province mapped out a plan in February to boost the big data industry to serve governments, the public and business. Under the plan, e-governance systems, intelligent transportation, logistics, tourism, industrial cloud computing, e-commerce and food security will be upgraded through big data technologies to improve the efficiency of government departments and improve people's lives.
However, the province faces a lack of talent to supply the industry's needs.
To remedy the situation, Guizhou launched a talent recruitment project to attract college graduates to set up big data companies in Guiyang by offering them preferential policies.
Leading Chinese universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University have signed agreements with Guizhou, promising to provide information technology talent to Guiyang, the provincial capital.
A total of 42 higher education research institutes have so far invested in Guiyang to enhance local innovation capability. Their aggregate investment totaled 17.4 billion yuan (2.79 billion U.S. dollars).
Under the provincial government's blueprint, a domestic first-class data resource center is expected to be established in 2017, which could make related industries worth 300 billion yuan (48.06 U.S. dollars).