Alibaba Group in collaboration with People Squared have announced their first Smart Space on March 23 at the Shenzhen Ali Center, which will be the first smart co-working space in China.

Alibaba shows the world what the future of co-working spaces hold

In China, co-working spaces have been booming for last five years. With most facilities located in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, companies such as Wework, Soho 3Q, Krypton Space and XNODE are now competing to attract freelancers and companies under their roof. If some of them - like Krypton Space and XNODE - are betting on incubators and innovation labs, most of coworking spaces in China are mainly relying on creative furniture and hardware to differentiate themselves.

It won’t be long until providing services such as management consulting, tax policy and co-branding become the next trends in coworking spaces. But for now, Alibaba - which recently took the plunge in the market with its Shenjing Smart Space - would rather focus on futuristic user experience, implementing all the technologies in its possession in the workspaces, to bring workers to its doors.

“Shenjing”means “amazing whale” in Chinese

Indeed, Shenjing Smart Space integrates multiple prototype applications of Alibaba smart architecture software and hardware, which involve facial recognition, QR code scanning, wireless screen projection, video conference, cloud printing/scanning, vehicle positioning for indoor navigation, online booking of space, mobile payment for rent, and even smart post office, etc. As all their actions will be connected to their smartphones and PCs, the members will have an easier understanding of their own communities and could engage with them.

Using facial recognition to unlock a door
During the New.Strat smart building event last March, Partner and Chairman of Alibaba Group’s Technical Committee Jian Wang explained that “ this intelligent building will connect every equipment through Internet and use the data generated by the building to promote user experience though cloud computing, which will create more value than the building itself.” What we understand is that “Shenjing” is using the advantages of two fields to create more value for the companies that will use its workspaces, but Alibaba will need some more time to build up a community around it.
By Mu Cui
Senior Strategy Analyst