Xiaomi sets up artificial intelligence and big data departments to sharpen focus in tech race

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 28 Feb 2019

On top of new AI-related departments, Lei (pic) also announced the set up of new big data and cloud computing departments, according to a letter provided by the company.

Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-biggest smartphone maker, announced the creation of three artificial intelligence-related departments in another reshuffle to transform the company into an AI-driven company.

The Beijing-based company promoted Cui Baoqiu, who set up the AI and cloud team in Xiaomi, to vice-president, reporting directly to co-founder and chief executive Lei Jun. Lei also announced the set up of new AI, big data and cloud computing departments, according to a letter provided by the company.

“Technology is a matter of life and death for Xiaomi,” Lei said in an internal meeting, according to the statement. “The establishment of Cui’s new role is to enhance the company’s engineer culture.”

Lei received a degree in computer science from Wuhan University in China and started his career at Kingsoft as a developer. Cui had worked for IBM Silicon Valley Lab, Yahoo and LinkedIn before he joined Xiaomi.

This is Xiaomi’s fourth organisational change after its IPO in Hong Kong last summer. Last September, Xiaomi created two new departments – an organisation department that oversees hiring, promotion and training, and a strategic advisory department, to help develop younger talent.

Last December, Xiaomi announced the setting up of a new China department to focus more on its domestic business, after its smartphone sales in the highly competitive mainland Chinese market declined by more than 34% in the fourth quarter ended December, according to IDC. Earlier this month, Xiaomi established a strategic advisory department for its mobile-phone business.

Xiaomi said last month that it would invest at least US$1.5bil (RM6.10bil) on artificial intelligence and smart devices over the next five years. “Now is the time for the action. We are all in on AIoT,” Lei said at the time, referring to the combination of AI and the network of connected devices known as the Internet of Things.

The company spent 4bil yuan (RM2.43bil) in research and development during the first nine months of 2018, according to its results filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

That compares with the US$15bil (RM61.07bil) to US$20bil (RM81.43bil) that telecom network equipment maker Huawei spent annually over the past five years.

Xiaomi’s new AI department will be responsible for research into AI and developing Xiaomi’s voice assistant Xiao’ai, while the big data department will focus on search and recommendations. Meanwhile the cloud platform will be responsible for Xiaomi’s cloud technology and cloud security maintenance and privacy. – South China Morning Post

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