What challenges did you face culturally in getting people to accept an idea from China?
China faced an acceleration of digital transformation about 10-20 years ago, and it made the decision not to replicate the top-down model that worked for countries that had vastly different situations. China used technology because technology was already a part of people's lives. For example, both Alibaba and Tencent, the two biggest companies in China, combined their QR code systems for contact tracing. This is something that should be implemented in Latin America because we have the technology.
Has demand for your services accelerated in the last few months?
I work extensively with local governments in Mexico, and everyone worries if companies are ready; the answer is no. We had to go through in six months a transformation that we thought we had 10 years left for. We were not ready to digitalize work, work remotely, or work with the systems in companies. Many of us were still using WhatsApp for communication between colleagues, and just using Zoom or Slack was a real struggle for most companies. In the past few months, the idea of smart digital transformation has become more relevant and important. Now, it is not only life and death for companies. In addition to going through a digital transformation, they are worried about whether they will survive the next year. In Mexico, we have a problem of always thinking short term, and now it is even worse. It has been a challenge just to go through that, as people want quick answers right now.
What are your main goals for the short term?
In terms of helping other companies go through a digital transformation process, we have training systems. We have different training strategies for companies to help them go through this process of strategic decision-making when it comes to taking advantage of digital platforms and exponential technologies to make better decisions. We are joining forces with some great Mexican companies, and together with GIN Group, we will conduct trainings for companies in terms of strategies for digital transformation. We will also work on our social project, Digital Villages. In 2019, we started two digital villages in the state of Guanajuato. We are pleased with the mid-term results, as the communities that we had been working with went from 31% digital maturity in February 2019 to 52% in May 2019. In October, we begin the third segment of the training, which involves students and university teachers training micro businesses in the community. We expect to reach 70% digital maturity by the end of 2020. That has led us to start training more digital villages in Jalisco, Sonora, Puebla, Chiapas, and Querétaro. Then, we will start promoting two main platforms from Alibaba. We are not here to compete with the local platforms selling products in Mexico; we are here to help expand the options for Mexicans. Alibaba.com is our first platform; it is the biggest B2B marketplace in the world, and most of our buyers on Alibaba.com are in the US. It is a great opportunity for Mexican companies that do not know this platform to reach buyers from not only the US but also Russia, Malaysia, and Chile. We operate in over 190 countries and have about 20 million buyers going to our website every time looking for products. We want to give Mexican producers that opportunity to put their products on the platform and start selling to the world. We take care of not only their onboarding service but also creating their mini site. The last one is helping Mexican companies use e-commerce to tap into the Chinese consumer market. 2020 was the first time China surpassed the US and officially became the largest consumer market in the world. Alibaba.com has four cross-border e-commerce platforms that are B2C, straight to consumers.