Alibaba aims for global 11.11 as firm continues internationa
Alibaba is preparing for a global iteration of its prolific 11.11 shopping festival countdown in 2019, opening the door to even greater record-breaking feats for China’s most successful day in retail.
The annual 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration, consisting of live performances, interactive audience activities, and various forms of brand engagement, was broadcast to Southeast Asia last year, but 2019 will see the first official broadcast outside Asia.
In a post to Alizila, Alibaba’s news site, the firm said that the 11.11 Gala Celebration will be broadcast on around 10 cable networks in China, North America, Southeast Asia and Africa to give the event its first global audience.
Alizila highlighted the scope of the “red-carpet event”, noting celebrities around the world including Nicole Kidman, Kobe Bryant, David Beckham, and Mariah Carey as previous attendees.
“The gala is extremely valuable, capable of bringing in conversion and brand impressions that far exceed any period in the campaign,” said Liu Bo, General Manager of Alibaba’s marketing-platform business, according to Alizila. “All of the energy, attention and emotions of consumers are concentrated within those few hours leading up to midnight.”
Robert Lin, Vice President of Chinese video platform Youku and Producer of the 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration, added: “This year, we want to bring [the audience] a lasting experience, to create a ‘classic’ show that would stay in the memories of this generation.”
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here