E Weinan, dean of the Beijing Institute of Big Data Research, said there is a big difference between Internet Plus and big data.
"While the internet has a solid foundation, which Chinese companies can draw upon and enjoy better use amid China's huge market, there has not yet been a mature technology path in big data that Chinese companies can rely upon."
Although big data is a hot word in China, when the buzz goes away, people will find big data is a sector that has technology barriers, says E, a Peking University professor who has led a national research project on unstructured data.
E further explains that big data differs from other scientific subjects, as there can be a seamless connection between technology innovation and the market.
He cited recent fingerprint data technologies, which one of his students has co-developed, as an example. He said his student's invention, based on first-generation technologies developed in the 1970s but fast-tracked in just several months with the help of machine learning, has already been used in the Ministry of Public Security of China's fingerprint data base. However, the professor did not detail these technologies in his 15-minute speech.E, also dean of Peking University's Yuanpei School, which hosted the forum, said he is confident that as long as Chinese scholars solve China's challenging problems, they can naturally rise to the top level of the world's big data science landscape, since frontier research questions all derive from the market and China features a unique one due to its huge population, different language and culture.
E also shared his concerns on talent shortages and his advice to build the big data subject at universities.
He said that if needs could not be met in the future, talent shortages could be a "headache".
The PC internet era, starting from the year 2000, has witnessed the birth and development of Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, while the mobile internet era, beginning in the year 2010, has seen the flourishment of location-based apps, such as Meituan, a group buying app, and Didi Chuxing, a taxi hailing app, said Wang. Wang was also one of the seven founding members of Baidu.
He said that over these years, the country has witnessed a lot of innovation in business models, such as with China's Didi, an app similar to Uber. The two companies have recently merged.
However, this might not work in the next era.