“The world’s 6th smartest company; following right behind Google,
And the 1st among Chinese companies”
(2017 MIT technology review)
“The Winner of Blizzard challenge for 12 years in a row”
(Blizzard challenge: the biggest AI technology competition in the world)
“Crowned China’s no.1 national AI platform for voice recognition”
You might think of big names such as Tencent or Alibaba when you hear about these achievements. However, these titles are all conferred on iFLYTEK, a leading AI company in China. Since it was founded in 1999, iFLYTEK has been developing its cutting-edge technology in voice recognition and natural language processing. These technologies enable us to interact with a machine via our human language, and are known to be the most difficult and important areas among various AI technologies. iFLYTEK boasts 70% of market share in the Chinese voice recognition market with its outstanding technology. In particular, its ability to recognize Chinese dialects is exceptional. Fascinated by these achievements of iFLYTEK, we were very glad that we were chosen to work with this leading IT company through Guanghua MBA’s Integrated Practicum Project.
As the first step of this project, on 17th of April, we visited iFLYTEK Beijing office to know more about the company and discuss the direction of the project. iFLYTEK is located in 中关村软件园互联网创新中心 (Internet Innovation Center) area where other many high-tech and internet companies are also based. With full of anticipation and curiosity, we were guided to the office floor to experience some of its state-of-the-art educational products. After trying those products and listening to the explanation, we found that iFLYTEK not only has AI technology but also works on 3-D and VR technology to deliver an integrated customer experience with the AI products. Especially, the fire safety education software using VR headset was very impressive. With the VR headset, the student can virtually see fire in a building, and take a real physical action to call 119 or extinguish the fire. This was completely a whole new level of education that can maximize the learning effect.
After looking around the company, we had a meeting with our program host Mr. Lee, the head of marketing department in iFLYTEK. He explained that the company already has a dominant market position in 2B area, and has been developing partnership with many other companies such as Huawei. However, he believes that it needs to expand 2C area to make commercialize AI further, as its mission explains, "To making a better world with AI". In fact, iFLYTEK has already released many fine 2C products including a translator and an education robot, but it has some difficulties in delivering the products to 2C customers.
Further in-depth research will proceed, but in advance we roughly analyzed two possible reasons for this matter. Firstly, iFLYTEK sometimes needs to create a whole new customer segment since the product has never existed before. Secondly, the company has been mostly focusing on 2B market, so it might lack experience in end-consumer market especially for a sales channel, brand marketing, and pricing strategy. Based on our understanding of the problem, we listened to Mr. Lee about the current business situation regarding its 2C product, and discussed what iFLYTEK wants us to help. He was very cooperative and willing to share any information we need for the IPP project. Moreover, we appreciate his intention to provide us a learning opportunity, as well as to receive our consulting service for this project.
From this meeting, we decided a specific goal of this project. It is to build a tangible 4P marketing plan based on concrete market research for the new 2C products that will be released this year. During the progress of the project, the cultural diversity that we have will give us a competitive edge. Our group has three foreigners who cannot understand Chinese, thus we can evaluate the products from different perspectives.
The journey has started. Heading back to campus, we were even more excited and imbued with a strong sense of purpose. Through this Integrated Practicum Project, we are expected to learn practical application to the real business case from what we learned in the classroom. Also, we are eager to understand deeper about AI industry which will significantly change our lives and career in the future. Lastly, we believe that we can learn from one another and make a synergy effect by working together. We are ready to contribute for this great company, and we will try our best to give the best solution that iFLYTEK is looking for.
Team “Flying Colors”: Ruisha Yuan(Leader), Ahreum Kil, Baifan,Donggun Kim, Omar Ezzat, Partik Pahari, Yan Rong
Authors: Ahreum Kil, Donggun Kim