Tencent’s open platform is designed to let partners make use of the group’s technologies, support and, crucially, its traffic via its vast user base. The recent Tencent Global Partner Conference brought partners together in Chengdu who spoke about their experiences of Qingteng University, the Shuangbai Project, WeStart incubators and AI Lab.

We spoke to some of them to see how being part of something bigger had helped them as businesses. Of course, the partners at the conference were some of the success stories of the open platform. It was apparent that the facilities offered by Tencent are so comprehensive that some of these businesses simply would not have been able to go it alone, and may not be able to operate independently. Or, indeed, leave the ecosystem.

A virtual, voice-based assistant not specific to a device. It started out as a fully automated, fully AI system open to any request, but the team soon realized they needed to restrict the tasks available to simpler, discrete errands such as ordering coffee for delivery, arranging meetings and business trips. It differs from the likes of Siri and Cortana in that it actually executes tasks in the real world by buying your plane ticket or flat white. Around 85% of tasks are handled by the AI, with the rest handled by human staff for customers paying for premium accounts who can make more complex requests. The assistant has over 3 million individual users (50 million hoped for by 2020, with the whole country to have an assistant in future), but then runs corporate accounts which have user bases of over 12 million.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...