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Interview with Sarah Alahy: creativity and emotions

Meet Sarah Alahy, former student of MBADMB shanghai, who has a strong appetite for creation and who shares with us her keys to understanding the artistic universe in a business context.


Hello Sarah, can you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name is Sarah, I’m 24 years old and I currently work for Mesdemoiselles Paris. It’s an entry-level luxury ready-to-wear brand and I’m assistant to the art director at the moment. As for my background, at the very beginning I decided to do a degree in applied foreign languages, because for me it was important to be able to speak several languages. I always had an attraction for traveling and different cultures so I wanted to learn Chinese. Thanks to that, I managed to go to Taiwan in my 3rd year, so I stayed there for a year, which was great, and from there, with the courses I took in Taiwan, I decided to redirect myself towards communication and especially digital communication. I hesitated a lot with everything that is advertising and art direction, but in the end by doing digital communication, I was able to find all this creative universe that I always liked. That’s what led me to apply for a job at Mesdemoiselles Paris and more particularly in the art direction.


Can you tell me a little more about your role and Mesdemoiselles Paris?

My mission at Mesdemoiselles Paris is really to make sure that all the images we publish or create correspond to our brand image. We like to say that Mesdemoiselles Paris is a brand that has strong values like authenticity, everything that is artisanal, free spirit and traveler, so I have to make sure that all the images, visuals, photos or videos adhere to this atmosphere. We do a lot of video, so even if it’s just models that are on parade, we have to be able to touch the person who is going to watch them. My objective is to get emotions when we look at what I do.


What is the place of emotions in your daily life and through your artistic work?

I never think with my head, so I mostly use what my heart tells me. I am a hyper intuitive person, if I feel that there is something I want to do, I will do it no matter if I am given arguments against it. I really think and act with emotions, I feel strong emotions all the time, when I listen to a music it brings me a lot of emotion and a picture can bring me a lot of emotion too, I can cry while listening to something. Besides, I am hyper empathic, therefore what makes everything artistic helps me to project myself and to understand the other individualities. In short, I reconcile the two.


Do you think that in art direction it is important to control your emotions?

In artistic direction, I think it’s very important to be empathetic, to be able to feel emotions that are sometimes strong and not necessarily ours. It’s very important to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and at the same time you have to succeed in a difficult exercise, to be able to suppress your own emotions sometimes in order to give the best of yourself in your work.


How did you get this creative spirit? Is it innate or did you develop it?

I would say a bit of both, I have always been attracted to everything artistic in a very broad sense: painting, music, sculpture etc. In fact I like a lot of aesthetics and then I learned to cultivate it. One of the most important moments in my creative development was when a teacher told me that you are not born creative but you become creative. You become a better creative by being inspired by everyday life, culture and life in general, because you have a lot of references that you can use and reuse in your life and experiences.


What are the different stages you can identify in your creative process?

I would say that when I have to create something, I always have to know why I’m doing it and for whom, so that I can have this empathy process and say to myself “OK, so the person is going to see this, why?” After that there is everything that I call hard creation, that is to say everything that is going to be scripted, for example a video or a shoot, I have to understand the direction of the designer, why she made her universe and what led her to make this collection. Then I mix everything together and try to get something nice and harmonious out of it.


Can you introduce me to Mademoiselle Paris and its activities? 

Mesdemoiselles Paris is a luxury ready-to-wear brand founded in 2006, so it’s been growing for over 15 years. We have several boutiques, and although we remain a small brand with a lot of potential, we are always trying to do more. We are a small brand well established, with stores in the most beautiful areas of Paris, we are exporting in several countries and we have retailers around the world. It’s a really bohemian chic brand that advocates the values of craftsmanship, of the free woman and at the same time powerful. Finally, we like to say that our collections have a different story, but that we still follow a common thread. We like to say that our collections always come from the 4 corners of the world, whether in the aesthetics or in the production with, for example, alpaca wool from Peru or embroidery made in Italy. Also in the aesthetics with prints from Ghana, colors that recall the ochre quarries in Mexico etc.. The watchword is truly the world told in clothes.


What are your plans for the future? 

I have in mind to travel a lot to gather a lot of culture, both popular and general to make me a better creative. I can see myself working in the different corners of the world no matter where to create worlds and aesthetics that correspond to me.

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A gateway into the matrix with Mathilde Parlant (Data Analyst)

Meet Mathilde Parlant, former business student at ESSCA, who has a strong appetite for Data collection and analysis. She shares with us her keys to understanding the technical and human aspects of her job as Data Business Analyst in a major French bank institution.


Hello Mathilde, can you introduce yourself in a few words?

I’m currently a Data Business Analyst at Société Générale. Before getting to this point, I went to ESSCA, a business school, and I decided to do a general master’s degree in international business because it seemed to me to be the most general and because it offered the possibility of doing it in China in Shanghai. It was there that I could really discover the digital world which is booming and moreover is much more developed than in France. That’s how I managed to get an internship at KPMG with missions in digital marketing and content creation. This experience gave me a taste for data. That’s why I decided to follow a master specialized in digital marketing and Big data for value and ended up at Société Générale as a Data Business Analyst where I am currently working.


Can you explain me your job and your relationship with data ?

The job of Data Analyst is a job in which your head is really immersed in the data and all the information of the company in which you work. For my part, I work more on data projects in general, so it will be for example the management of banners in marketing and it will be necessary to make queries to try to recover the data that would allow to improve the performance or the actions of the company and also to allow to convince more easily the customers. This job relies mainly on several technical skills such as queries in several programming languages such as SQL or Python and SAS which allow to build data bases that are more specific and linked to the subject we want to treat. These data bases are then used to create dashboards which allow to have a visualization of all the different campaigns and thus to be able to make forecasts and to lead actions accordingly.


What skills do you think you need to perform the Data Analyst job?

I think that it is necessary to know how to work with a team. because it rests much on the mutual aid, it is a little the policy of our service. Therefore yes our teamwork is very important, but it is necessary of course to have a lot of rigour and to know to check that the data are correct, that there are no errors in the sources of data and in the data bases. Then I would say that you need patience, because the queries don’t always work the first time, so you have to start again, you have to do other research and always go further.


What do you think about the relationship between humans and machines in your sector?

So precisely in what I do on a daily basis one could quickly think that it is rather machines work since we always have our hands in the data, to be on our computers to make our data bases and our dashboards exepts that yes that is important. It is necessary, but there is also the human aspect precisely in the team where I work, as I said before  because everyone has more or less the same needs and so we will discuss between us to see what we can bring to each other and to help each other in general. So it’s going to reconcile the two to some extent. As data analysts, we’ll create our queries, we’ll set up the different formulas and processes to follow and then we’ll do just that. Then it’s the role of the data scientists who will actually model these different tables and then automate them, and from then on it can be considered as being “machines and algorithms work”.


If you could describe the Data Analysis job in 3 words?

Rigor, technique and perseverance.


Can you introduce me to La Société Générale and your activities?

Société Générale is a large banking group and I work in the retail banking sector in France, which means everything that corresponds to private individuals living in France. The market structure is divided into 3 parts: private clients, commercial clients and all the clients that correspond to companies or associations. I work more in the area of individuals.


What are your plans for the future?

So for now, since I’m really learning every day about programming languages and all the technical side, I think I’m going to try to consolidate my bases and continue in this path for at least 5 years, so that I can really have a solid basis to then become a data scientist and develop new skills to do data modeling and data automation.


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The future of commercial aviation: Pilotless flight thanks to AI?

What was once a dream is now becoming a reality. Where some see only financial savings, others see an almost insurmountable challenge for airlines. Will AI be able to achieve the same feats as Chesley Sullenberger? The pilot who successfully ditched an A320 on the Hudson River. 


AI on board, a feasible concept ?

According to a UBS study published in 2017, autonomous aircraft could arrive on the market as early as 2025 and would save airlines as much as $35 billion. Artificial intelligence will increasingly assist pilots during flight. Provided that we are able to certify systems with autonomous decision-making.

Over the years, the growing maturity of artificial intelligence has called into question the central role of the pilot, who is still the sole master of the aircraft. His vocation today is to ensure the safety of the passengers and to fly the aircraft in the best possible way in all circumstances. It already shares its work with the computer, since most civil flights today are on automatic pilot. But artificial intelligence promises to go one step further, changing the way they operate.

As the investigation into the crash of the Rio-Paris A330 in 2009 states: “The accident took place in cruise flight at high altitude, at the crossroads of the intertropical front. As the aircraft passed through a severe thunderstorm, the pitot probes became iced up and the airspeed indications were momentarily lost. Inappropriate pilot reactions caused the aircraft to stall until impact. The role of AI would be, in the near future, to apply the right process to each technical problem envisaged.


Processing massive amounts of data

Every year, several zettabytes of data are produced, stored and exploited. This means billions of billions of bytes, a wealth of information that allows the emergence of new tools. These tools use disciplines such as machine learning or deep learning, combining computer science and mathematics to design algorithms for processing massive data, which have many industrial applications.

Since this data is too voluminous for a human to be able to handle every stage of processing, and because we also want to see the emergence of innovative services and lessons, without any preconceived ideas, the idea has arisen to allow machines to learn automatically. The challenge of machine learning, fed by probabilistic modeling and optimisation and served by a theory of learning, is therefore to provide guarantees on the robustness of the results. And its automation and prediction capabilities offer great potential benefits for aviation.


Overcoming human error

Indeed, learning algorithms alone select the optimal model to describe a phenomenon from a mass of data with a complexity unattainable for our human brains: up to several million variables. In the context of aeronautics, this means that the AI at the controls of an airliner will be able to determine the right process to apply according to an engine failure, the deterioration of pitot probes, a fire in the cockpit, an alarm that sounds, an area of excessive turbulence or an event that requires an emergency landing. But human error will no longer be taken into account, often caused by contextual factors. Indeed, the machine does not need to sleep, feed, or have any alterations to its ‘consciousness’. Depending on the variables it is given, it applies an automatic response and that’s it!

Based on the example of the Rio-Paris crash, and according to the BEA report (Bureau d’enquêtes et d’analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile) and journalistic investigations, it turns out that the 3 pilots on board the A330 were not in optimal condition to ensure the flight. Already on take-off, the pilots were showing signs of exhaustion: “Cockpit recording: captain at 1 h 4 min 19 s” Last night I didn’t sleep enough. One hour was not enough before” and “during the first 23 minutes of the recording, silence dominates the crew with radio communications from Recife control in the background, attention is relaxed to the point of listening to music”.

There is nothing to suggest that the artificial intelligence would have been able to prevent the aircraft from stalling. But it would not have shown “signs of exhaustion”, because it is… a machine! And the difference with autopilot is that artificial intelligence is able, in the event of a breakdown, for example, to decide on a change of control mode and to change actuators almost in real time.


Technological and regulatory challenges

However, there are still a number of questions to be answered before we can claim victory, and negotiations with pilots’ unions and regulatory bodies are also to be expected.

Moreover, the automation of aircraft offers many advantages: faster decision-making, processing and scheduling of mass data, management of complex and coordinated manoeuvres, etc. All of these benefits offset another challenge, that of regulating the airspace, which is currently saturated. As promoted today by the European SESAR project, the objective is to provide Europe with modern systems, in order to offer pilots real-time information to adapt their decisions, thanks to a network capable of ensuring the optimised regulation of the whole.

The major challenge of unmanned aircraft is, first and foremost, to ensure the safety of the aircraft and the reliability of the AI-based systems. In an aircraft, there must be less than one catastrophic failure per billion flight hours, an international standard! One of the possibilities lies in hardware and software redundancy.

But beware of addiction to automatic systems, which can lead to complacency, in other words, the risk of over-reliance on machines. Therefore, everyone must find their place on board! It remains to be seen whether we, as passengers, have more confidence in the man or in the machine…

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The digital landscape in 2021

Since the global covid 19 pandemic, social networks have become a major part of everyday life. More and more people have come closer to their phone, especially to create content, to discover or chat with friends. Today, I present some key figures to you through an infographic. The numbers come from studies that were released in early 2021 by We are social & Hootsuite : Digital in 2021, Global Overview.


To discover the key figures of digital in 2021, find my entire article on Linked In by clicking here.

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Reading Sheet of “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order”

About the author

Kai Fu Lee is born in Taiwan from Chinese parents, he emigrated to the USA at the age of 11, with a passion for mathematics. He did a PhD at Carnegie Mellon University, “the incubator of cutting-edge AI research” and became passionate about machine learning and voice recognition. After having held executive positions at Apple and Microsoft, he went to China and became the first Chinese investor in venture capital with his company Sinovation Ventures. He advised many students and trained more than 5000 specialists in AI, including several senior executives of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

His 30 years of experience makes him one of the world’s leading experts in AI. His book traces the evolution of AI from 1970 to 2017, when the Chinese government declares AI a top priority. “Sillicon Valley and China have an ecosystem born of very different cultural backgrounds” and this play a significant role in the approach and evolution of each country. China is known to have copied in many areas, often in low-end items, but these copiers have learned, assimilate with impressive speed and have launched into the creation of products and services tailored to the needs of the Chinese market. Indeed, China has been able to collect masses of valuable data that feed the algorithms in their purchases, their habits and their movements, ensuring a global advance compared to the rest of the world. The deep learning feeding on all these data to recognize the images, understand the spoken language, propose solutions after analyzing and cross-checking databases.

To date, China has an undeniable lead in the collection of these data with Tencent (owner of WeChat), as well as Alibaba with e-commerce and strong of more than one billion users with the intensive use of mobile (mobile only). But AI will affect all industrial structures, all areas of life and its progress will harm the professional environment, massive unemployment, greater inequality and bringing social crises. “AI would replace 40 to 50% of US jobs within 15 years while fortunes would accumulate at the big AI companies.”

The author makes a fine analysis and gives advice on the measures to be taken by the governments in all countries and asks them to think now about the sectors that will be affected.



In 2016, 280 million Chinese viewers follow an Alpha Go confrontation with the best Korean player who succumbs to the machine. The Go is a 2500 years old game in China and still practiced in the 21th century. In 2017, the best player in the world, a young Chinese of 19 years old (Ke Jie) was beaten by the machine. With stupefaction and awareness, China governs immediately by mobilizing all its actors to meet the challenge of AI. The author compares this moment to the one experienced by the US when the first Soviet satellite “Sputnik” was launched in 1957. “This triggered the creation of NASA, the teaching of mathematics subsidized on a large scale and allowed 12 years later to send the first man to set foot on the moon: Niel Armstrong! ”

It is thanks to deep learning and machine learning, that the capabilities of AI have allowed a machine to win the Alpha Go. The author specifies the need to have “a large mass of data, experts, engineers, calculation capabilities out of the ordinary, colossal sums to advance everything”. It is indeed in this race that all the means have been put in China, as a proof the current level of AI in China. After Alpha Go, China launches a major plan to develop AI. Objectives are set for 2020 to 2025, the stated goal is to be the world leader by 2030.


The 4 waves of IA

Each wave will spread out in time, each one will exploit in its own way the power of this technology to submerge us. The successive waves will each bring facilities in all fields, each of them feeding on the previous one, affecting all economic sectors and our daily life. Already online AI and professional AI are present; the financial field is an example with the algorithms at work on the stock markets.


1st wave : AI online for more than a decade

Around 2012, the internet has propelled us to it: our video choices, purchases, our questions in all areas have been recorded, this data allows to display the target of the company that will give a positive image to customers, and will know our habits, our preferences, while the customer will get among other things personalized offers, “the algorithms are transformed into a tool for recommendations. “This wave remains confined to the technological sphere and the digital world”, Chinese and US are equal according to the author, who sees China in the lead in 5 years.


2nd wave : professional AI

According to Kai Fu Lee, this is the only field where the US domination is unquestionable. All the labeled data accumulated over the years in the insurance, banking and hospital sectors will allow algorithms to make particularly effective optimizations.
“As early as 2004, companies (Palantir – IBM) were advising companies and governments on big data”. The author sees a great evolution in China for the medical field, the algorithms would establish the dignostic which in the country would decrease the inequalities between big cities well equipped and countryside under equipped in this sector; similarly in the judicial sector to guide the magistrates, to pronounce the verdict and “to contribute to put in the right way the customary judges. At this stage, the US is in the lead (90/10) thanks to optimizations in banking and insurance among others. China will be in the lead within 5 years (70/30) by taking the lead especially in services.


3rd wave : perceptive AI

The digitization of the physical world will be implemented in the commercial sectors as a priority: it is necessary to rethink all human activity, to recognize objects, voice and sound data. The author warns that algorithms “will perform the bulk of interactions with the customer” and gives Exemples: Amazon Echo that digitizes the sound environment of the home, the city brain of Alibaba that digitizes the flow of traffic or Apple and Face ID cameras that do the same with the faces. In 2017, during the 1st visit of Trump in China, his speech in English on large screen began to speak Chinese. The AI is transforming the world. The Chinese company Yflytech had specialized in the field of AI to train its algorithms, respecting all the characteristics of the voice: intonation, pronunciation, all recalibrated in Mandarin. In the next few years, cities and supermarkets will be transformed, the author already cites KFC, associated with Alipay, which has installed in some of its restaurants a system that allows facial recognition, with a terminal recording the order, scanning the face, ensuring the presence of the person in the premises and debiting his account.

Moreover, this process will be used to educate, to detect delays or talents, to follow each one and to take in hand the delays of the pupils. The AI will be in the homes, the teachers will ensure the lectures, or will make individual sessions and many other fields will benefit from this process. That implies to recover important data of the physical world. “the US is reluctant, china is more open and has passed a cyber security law. Europe having adopted a more restrictive approach with the RGDP.” From this perceptive, AI needs all kinds of devices with sensors. In anticipation, China has created “the made in Shenzen, by rallying in one place of the chain studies, researchers and manufacturers of intelligent devices; with the largest network: 85 Billion connected objects, various products, reduced prices, amassing important data and preparing the 4th wave of autonomous AI.


4th wave : autonomous AI

For the author, the impact will be more important, it is a culmination: the machines were automated and they will be autonomous. To quote the example: harvesting strawberries in California by a machine guided by an algorithm picking without damage the ripe strawberries, the autonomous robots that prepare the orders at Amazon and eventually drones that will be able to supply isolated populations or put out forest fires.

On their side, Google and Telsa are working on autonomous cars, as well as Baidu, Uber, Didi and car manufacturers. Our daily life will be impacted: urban spaces, roads and already Chinese territories are modifying traffic lanes, adapting supply circuits. In the US, it is the new vehicles that will adapt to the existing roads. Indeed, he US have the most experienced specialists and have a 2/3 year lead over China. The observation made by the author at this stage comparing China/US is as follows: AI : online 50/50 ; pro 10/90 ; perceptive 60/40 ; autonomous 10/90 and the forecast 5 years ahead China/US: online 60/40 ; pro 30/70 ; perceptive 80/20 ; autonomous 50/50. China and US are moving forward, but in the long run developing countries will use them. US are trying to sell their standardized products while China chooses to finance native startups: Tencent or Alibaba in India and South East Asia or even Didi developing in US, Singapore, India or Middle East.


How to react

At the heart of this revolution, the new norm would become full employment for intelligent machines and eternal stagnation for the average worker because the faster, larger AI will surpass humans in physical and cognitive tasks. Solutions are studied taking into account the extent of the destruction of jobs, primarily among the most qualified and among workers, the author describes and gives examples: jobs concerning intellectual tasks in danger: technical translator, scientists etc. Those easy for AI alone : radiologists, accountants, trade unionists or those mixing AI and human as criminal lawyer, doctor and teacher. Similarly for jobs with physical tasks, would be preserved: home help, physiotherapist, hairdresser, aeronautical mechanic and in danger the easy jobs for AI : agricultural worker and truck driver for example.

Different approaches are evoked by the US or by the silicon valley: requalify thanks to continuous training to adapt and bring the necessary competences to the workers, but this would be permanent because of the fast evolution of AI and very quickly arriving at saturation, or redistribute the jobs by decreasing the working time to 3 days per week or share a job which would be held by two people, it would be or partial unemployment or lower wages. Other concepts are debated: the universal basic income which is far from being unanimous, or the minimum income guarantee which would be reserved for the poorest accompanied by heavy taxes imposed on AI companies.

Kai Fu Lee proposes rather a “social investment allowance, with guarantee of care, services, education” that the state would pay to associations “dedicated, creative, volunteers” all this of course after the completion of AI and takes appropriate measures before this time by paying “people caring for the elderly or parents of young children” for example and encourages the private sector to be “pioneer in the creation of human jobs that will be at the heart of this revolution”. The author also suggests to be inspired by other countries, to emphasize the craft knowledge, the culture of volunteering! “With AI, there can only be one winner. US and China will compete to make the most of this technology. Governments around the world must connect permanently to compare US/CHINA/EUR regulation policies and keep an open mind about the different ways to consider AI governance.



After this evolutionary assessment of AI and its disastrous consequences in the professional world (progress on the one hand, destruction on the other, questioning the life of everyone, our environment and our organizations), the author ends on a more optimistic note thanks to his personal experience and the questioning of his own life, due to the occurrence of cancer that has allowed him to become aware of a life other than the one he led. The presence and support of his family during his illness, the strength of love “which we know gives meaning to our lives” and the meeting with a Buddhist monk in a monastery in Taiwan, which led him with wisdom to rearrange the priorities of his life.

As for the end of Kai Fu Lee’s convalescence, he gives us the content “I considered my recovery from two angles, one technical, the other emotional” the two pillars of our future AI.


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WeChat : An introduction for Western Players

Although WeChat is tremendously used in China, it is not very well known in Europe. This is the reason why I decided to talk to you about it. You may have already heard about it but do you know exactly what Wechat is?


Launched in 2011 by Tencent Holdings, the Chinese tech colossus, WeChat is a super app that brings together all the internet in one platform. WeChat is considered as a real digital Swiss army knife of the Chinese daily life. The platform already gathers more than 1.2 billion users, with a penetration rate of more than 90% in China. (63% for Facebook in the United State for comparison).

The concept of WeChat is rather difficult to describe for us, who are used to having an application by utility and by need. But, if originally it was a simple mobile instant messaging application similar to Messenger or Whatsapp, today it offers a real ecosystem of services.

With WeChat, Tencent has inaugurated the super app model. A parent app that hosts other mini-apps, which range from ordering a cab to a Covid-19’s case tracking system. Today more than 4 million mini apps exist in WeChat.

In ten years of existence, the application has become a way of life. Checking the weather, talking with friends and colleagues, shopping, playing games, paying for groceries, booking a restaurant or even buying a train ticket. On the social side, users can create a private account, follow their friends or favorite stars, interact with them, create group chats, make voice or video calls, share photos on their feed, meet people and play games. A user can go through his or her entire day without ever leaving the app.


The app evolution through the years

WeChat began life as a basic messaging app focused on text messages. Then, it added phone and video calling capabilities. Then, it began to expand into areas that had previously not been associated with simple messaging apps, like pages for photos, linking, liking, commenting and updates. It started to become a social network.

After that, it added functions like taxi hailing and food delivery. E-commerce and fund transfers weren’t far behind. It continuously added functions that its users needed and wanted. For example, the addition of voice messages made it faster and easier to communicate and were a huge hit. They could be recorded while on the go and cut the time spent writing complex Chinese characters onscreen or picking them out of predictive text menus.

Finally, it added virtual red envelopes like the ones given out at Chinese New Year with money in them. Users could send money through the app and millions of people did just that. That’s when the app became ubiquitous.

WeChat Pay meant people could settle restaurant bills and pay for groceries with their phone. Now, people were doing everything from booking and paying for flights to buying a few apples from a tiny market vendor with the app. WeChat has become so big that the word “app” doesn’t adequately describe it.


Types of accounts

WeChat accounts come in two basic flavours. There are personal accounts, which are also known as private accounts. Then there are official accounts, which are also called public accounts.

  • Personal accounts are for people who want to stay in touch with friends and family, subscribe to official accounts and use the app’s mini-programs and services.


  • Official accounts are for brands, businesses or high-profile individuals so that they can get followers, communicate or redirect people to their website or e-commerce store.


  • Official accounts have three types: service accounts, subscription accounts and enterprise accounts (WeChat Work). Enterprise accounts function like workplace intranets, similar to apps like Slack.


  • Service accounts are for businesses to communicate with customers and have plenty of sales- and service-oriented functions. You can open a WeChat store, create mini-programs and access additional WeChat functions.


  • Subscription accounts focus more on brand communication. They’re the only type open to individuals as they don’t require a business licence. One to six articles can be posted once a day with this account. They reach users through a subscription account folder with no push notifications so they’re less visible.


How do people use WeChat?

WeChat is popular for both casual and business communication. With its current capabilities, you can send text and voice messages, pictures or video in direct messages or group chats. You can also share posts on your Moments page.

It’s commonly used in workplaces as it facilitates easy file sharing and conference calls. Enterprise accounts can be used to apply for leave, track projects or submit reimbursement forms. You can also scan someone’s WeChat QR code instead of exchanging business cards.


WeChat Pay makes paying easy

WeChat Pay launched in August 2013. It’s linked directly to a user’s bank account and can be used to pay for things on- or offline or to send money to friends by scanning a QR code. This can be done almost everywhere in China, whether you’re in a high street store or at the hawker markets. It has been widely adopted as it doesn’t require expensive terminals that need to be rented or bought – all it requires is two phones.

This, along with Alipay, is a primary driver of the cashless lifestyle in China. It’s even got to the stage where the average person in China leaves the house without cash on them. And plenty of people there, if given the choice between losing their wallet and losing their phone, fear losing their phone more.

Because WeChat makes most of its revenue from transaction charges and financial products like insurance and small loans, it doesn’t rely on advertising for revenue. Some feel that the result of this is that WeChat’s pay per click advertising is expensive and not highly targeted.

WeChat Pay has expanded beyond China’s borders, along with the country’s outbound tourists, and as of December 2020, it could be used in 55 countries and regions.


Keywords and constant updates

WeChat’s official accounts are similar to a Facebook page. Users subscribes and brands, media or individuals post articles, news, product reviews, personal stories and more. Then you get push notifications from them daily or weekly.

Users can also search for content using keywords. This includes articles from official accounts, mini-programs, friends’ posts on their Moments page, text threads and more. People do product research, find news and check on old conversations with their friends – all within WeChat.

This constant and convenient supply of information means that WeChat is the default information source for many people in China as well as the primary touchpoint connecting them to the world.


Mini-programs: apps-within-an-app

In January 2017 Tencent officially released its WeChat mini-program platform. Mini-programs are cloud-based embedded apps within WeChat, making them simplified, streamlined apps-within-an app essentially. Being cloud-based, people didn’t need to install them on their phone. Their introduction meant that people didn’t need a lot of apps crowding their phone. They could just install WeChat, save memory, battery, data and download time, and do almost everything within WeChat. It was a masterful move by Tencent.

Mini-programs for hailing and paying for taxis, paying electricity bills, e-commerce stores, food delivery, playing games and more all work smoothly within the app. You can make hotel reservations without downloading a travel app. There’s even a mini-program that monitors your phone’s battery usage and sends a push notification when it’s low, with directions to the nearest available power banks or charging stations. They’re also perfect for brands that want to connect with customers who are nearby or in their city.


The little app that could

No-one could have predicted in its early days as a simple copycat messaging app that WeChat would ever turn into the all-encompassing behemoth that it is today. It learned from and mimicked its rivals but it didn’t stop there. It also paid very close attention to its users and their needs and wasn’t afraid to go beyond the boundaries of what people thought was possible for an app. It’s now at the stage that it’s a hybrid of Whatsapp, Facebook, Venmo, ApplePay, Amazon, GooglePlay, Skype, Uber, Yelp, Expedia and more.

And the little copycat app that could is now being copied by the apps it once mirrored.

There are two versions of WeChat. In China, users usually refer to the app by its English name, WeChat, even though it has a Chinese name as well, Weixin.


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New retail: the phygital revolution in China

New Retail : A phygital revolution

Economic development and a rising middle class consumer have made emerging markets an enticing location for many change-makers. Therefore, replacing the patterns of consumption in these regions has prompted retailers and shoppers alike to change their buying habits.

Already the world’s largest e-commerce market, China’s e-commerce will reach $1.1tn at the end of 2021. However, there is still plenty of room for growth with just 38% of China’s total population shopping online. Indeed, China’s online retail sales are expected to increase steadily at an 8.5% compound annual growth rate through to 2022.

Taking these factors into account, Alibaba’s founder (Jack Ma) has embarked on a “phygital revolution” dubbed “New Retail” recognizing that the future of the retail scene was not a matter of platform, but of experience.


New Retail disruption

Chinese expect to have a unique experience across all the brand’s interconnected platforms with a multiplication of online and offline touchpoints. Thereupon, it was in response to this growing demand that the phygital ecosystem is born, with New Retail as its first concept.

This disruptive-looking term actually hides a very important social factor, which relates to the way people have consumed and experienced a growth boom, particularly for the past 20 years. Chinese have gone through a brutal transition. Indeed, it brought the smartphone and the IOT to the center of their concerns.

As a result, companies have adopted the same pattern allowing unprecedented agility in developing their sales methods. New Retail is an integral part of these new practices. Theyare not really democratized in Europe, but they have become the new standard in recent years in China.

If you would like to know more about “New Retail”, I invite you to read my LinkedIn article.


China Chinese Culture Histoire Chine Life in China Traditions in China Countryside

Beliefs from China : 5 fascinating myths

In every culture, there are myths and legends that people are familiar with and are happy to tell to their children. Most countries have their own myths. But unlike ancient Greece, China had no Homer to retell its ancient myths in a well-expressed literary record. Firstly, myths and legends were passed down orally for over a thousand years before being written down in some early books such as the Huainanzi and the Book of Mountains and Seas.

Moreover, China has gone through a lot of conflict periods, different religions and many opposing philosophies that appear and interact in many Chinese myths. When we go through some of the well-known Chinese tales, we find no clear distinction between what is real/historical and what is mythical.

Those myths and legends have continued to develop through the generations, creating incredibly rich folklore. Although there are hundreds of these myths, those that reside in Chinese traditions are particularly interesting as they still determine the thoughts and behaviour of citizens today.


In this article, you will discover 5 legends of Chinese mythology, imbued with strong characters and values


1. Pangu – The Creator of the World (盘古)

Pangu the creator of the world

According to an ancient Chinese myth, the world was created by a God named Pangu. In the first place, the universe was a mass of darkness like a huge egg. Inside the egg was a creature named Pangu who slept soundly for thousands of years. But as he was sleeping, Pangu grew and developed into a giant with a hairy body, two tusks and two horns.

One day, Pangu woke up and felt strangled by the darkness. So, he took a broad axe and broke the egg with all his might. Then the first thing he did was to separate Yin and Yang with his axe, yin becoming the earth and yang the sky. Pangu stood in the middle holding up the sky with his strong arms and stomping down the earth with his strong feet.

Furthermore, after Pangu died, his body turned into the Five Sacred Mountains, his eyes turned to the moon and the sun, his blood changed into the river and sea, and his skin and hair became grass and trees. Overall, Pangu himself made up the universe. Nowadays, Pangu is considered as a great hero by Chinese people and the first-ever born creature of the world.



2. Nuwa – The creator of humans (女娲)

Nuwa, the snake/women, creator of humans

In traditional Chinese mythology, the renaissance is owing to a goddess named Nuwa (the goddess of all mankind). She had a human body and a snake tail. The goddess found the newly created world to be charming, but it was too empty. She wanted the world to be filled with intelligent, laughing creatures like herself. So she took some clay beside the river and moulded a figure in her likeness. Nuwa made a variety of figures. Each was different from the others. Then, she breathed into them, and immediately they sprang to life. These newly-fashioned people kept Nuwa company, and she was no longer lonely.

According to the legend, the four pillars of the sky were destroyed and chaos broke out. In fact, the fires were out of control and the oceans flooded. Animals went wild and started to eat people. Nuwa repaired the damage by cutting off the legs of the Great Tortoise to define them as the four new pillars. After this, peace was restored on Earth.



3. Sun Wukong – The Monkey King (孙悟空)

Sun Waking, the monkey king on fire

Among the common Chinese myths and legends, one of the most famous is Sun Wukong legend, or “the king of the monkeys”. Actually, he is the most famous and beloved characters in Chinese mythology. Sun Wukong was a very mischievous monkey, known for causing havoc in paradise with his eagerness to conquer the world.

It was said that he was able to use a cane he had stolen from the dragon king of the East Sea. But Sun Wukong was finally defeated by Buddha who asked him to somersault his palm. He couldn’t get out of half his hands and be imprisoned for 500 years under a magic mountain formed by Gautama Buddha’s palms. He later became a companion of the monk Xuanzang and accompanied him on his adventurous journeys.

Fun fact: Over the years, Sun Wukong has become a pop culture icon and appeared in various places. One of the most famous adaptations is Dragon Ball, with the lead Son Goku being based on the Monkey King.



4. Chang’e – The immortal Goddess of the Moon (嫦娥)

Chang'e the immortal princess on the moon

This ancient story came from the legendary time when the Emperor of Jade was on the throne. The Emperor had 10 sons who were transformed into 10 suns. These suns wreaked havoc on the earth and made it impossible for people to survive. Then came a brave archer named “Yi“, who set out to destroy them. He killed nine of the suns but left one behind. Later, Yi was rewarded for his courage with the elixir of life. But one day while he was hunting in the forest, someone tried to break into his house and steal the elixir. Yi’s wife (Chang’e), refused to give it and drank it herself. When she drank the elixir, she became so light that she was taken up to the moon, where she is believed to still live today.

To remember Chang’e, Yi laid the table and spread Chang’s favourite snacks on it. Since then, this practice has become a tradition of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. People will eat Moon cakes, drink wine, and look up at the full silver moon to celebrate their happy life.

Fun fact: The main Chinese Lunar missions are called “Chang’e” in reference to the myth. In addition, Netflix recently made an animated movie called “Over the Moon“, released in October 2020 and in which the story of Chang’e is the main plot.



5. The Jade rabbit (月兔)

The jade rabbit on the moon

The jade rabbit is also known as “the rabbit that lives on the moon“. According to mythology, it is the companion of the moon goddess Chang’e. The story began when a poor old man came to beg for food. At that time, the creatures of the forest (the monkey, the otter, the jackal and the rabbit), gave kindness to those in need and thought that doing a good deed today would be repaid tomorrow.

Thus, to help man, the monkey brought fruit, the jackal brought a jar of milk and the otter collected dead fish from. But the rabbit, who only ate grass, offered himself as an offering to the man. But the man did not kill him and revealed his true identity. He was the God Sakra. Later he drew the image of the rabbit on the moon to honour him.

Fun fact: The first lunar robot sent by China thanks to the chang’e 3 mission in December, 2013 is called “The jade rabbit” due to this legend.





Laban, B. “Top 10 Chinese myths, Children’s books”. The Guardian. February 08, 2016. Accessed on December 29, 2020.

Le Petit Journal. “Mythes chinois les plus fascinants“. Le Petit Journal. October 09, 2019. Accessed on December 28, 2020.

Tie, M. “The most fascinating myths and legends“. Culture Trip. May 20, 2020. Accessed on December 28, 2020.

Werner, E. T. C. “Myths and legends of China“. Project Gutenberg. January 07, 2017. Accessed on December 29, 2020.

Wikipedia authors. “Chinese mythology“. Wikipedia. December 18, 2020. Accessed on December 27, 2020.

北京市. “7 Chinese myths and legends“. Cchatty. November 21, 2020. Accessed on December 28, 2020.




Chinese E-Commerce Plateforms Digital Business eCommerce

The top 10 Chinese e-marketplaces you should know in 2020


The Covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down and trade is now oriented towards digital channels. Indeed, with worldwide e-retail sales of 14.1%, e-commerce expands at a rapid pace. Furthermore, Statista’s forecast predicts that these numbers will hit 22% in 2023. Besides, more than 95% of all transactions are projected to be carried out through e-commerce by 2040. Consequently, retailers need to remain up-to-date with the latest e-commerce figures and industry trends.

China is the world’s largest market for e-commerce. The country has almost 80% market share of online sales and more than 1.3 billion inhabitants in 2019. Moreover, multiple local players are fighting for global expansion. The Chinese internet landscape, which counts more than 850 million users, is now the world’s most mature and advanced market. A good example is that the Chinese population has become accustomed to mostly using their smartphones to purchase online. The country’s appetite for technology pushes the e-commerce market forward, making it a leader in mobile e-commerce and payment.

But do you know the big Chinese e-commerce players?


The 10 major e-commerce platforms in China

Here is a presentation of 10 major Chinese e-marketplaces you should know for your personal knowledge and even more if you plan to launch a business in China.

  2. Pinduoduo
  3. Xiaohongshu
  4. Taobao
  5. Tmall
  6. Kaola
  7. Mia
  8. VIP shop
  9. Suning
  10. Secoo

Although many e-commerce platforms exist on the Chinese market, each one is unique and corresponds to a very particular segment. Apart from these 10 platforms, there are hundreds (or even thousands) of others just waiting to be used by international players. In this perspective, I invite you to deepen your research on the possibilities of cross-border on the platform that interests you the most. Nevertheless, I hope that this article will have helped you discover the incredible opportunities that Chinese e-marketplaces offer and that it will allow you to make strategic decisions in order to grow your business in China.

I invite you to read the fully detailed article through my LinkedIn article