ByteDance to open famed proprietary algorithm to external enterprise partners

Another move to challenge its predecessors in the business-to-business marketplace.

Photo: Tuchong

China’s most valuable startup ByteDance is reportedly opening up its proprietary AI-based recommendation algorithm to third parties as part of the tech mammoth’s heightening efforts to extend its tentacles into the enterprise service sector, according to local self-media TechPlanet.

Beijing-based ByteDance is best known for its consumer-oriented apps so far, including news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and TikTok which has swept across the world.

The secret sauce behind the rise of Toutiao and TikTok, is ByteDance’s smart recommendation algorithms that are designed to increase user stickiness through recommending information, like articles (Toutiao) and short video clips (TikTok), to a user who might be interested in them.

Now the company, according to the same TechPlanet report citing people in the know, has bundled its recommendation algorithms that underpinned its own growth into a system of solutions, dubbed ByteAir, and made it available for outside companies to tap.

ByteAir’s recommendation system works in a way similar to the algorithms backed TikTok’s success, it will learn to understand a user’s preference, and then recommend the most suitable item, be it an online article or video clip, an e-commerce campaign or item, to the user.

Put it simply, the system will first plug into a corporate client’s database, import user data and their behavior records, in addition to data procured from the client’s products or services.

Then it will clean, filter, tag, and analyze all the data, before finally export the results into the client’s business scenarios to help with recommending suitable products or services to its customers.

For clients sans their own AI and recommendation technique, the system could assist in matching their services with customers hence improve their business performance.

According to an introductory profile accessed by TechPlanet, ByteAir is built on ByteDance’s proprietary big data and machine learning prowess and the tech heavyweight’s experience in a wide range of internet businesses, from news, live streaming and short video, social media to e-commerce. ByteAir will provide bespoke solutions for its clients.

ByteDance has been training its internal business units for the use of ByteAir solutions, in addition to providing the solutions to a list of mobile vendors, such as China’s Meizu, Oppo, Vivo, and South Korean Samsung.

Recent years have seen the Beijing-based upstart’s frantic growth and global expansion through its viral apps, and it obviously has the ambition to diversify its operations and build up its own business ecosystem like its tech senpais like Alibaba and Tencent.

There were some early clues of its “catering to businesses” endeavors.

In April, it launched Lark, an enterprise work collaboration and productivity app, which previously was an internal communication tool. Although Lark is mainly marketed overseas at this stage, it is considered a competitor to Alibaba’s Dingtalk and Tencent’s WeChat for Work.

Meanwhile, it acquired workflow tool Mubu and has continued its investment in Google Docs-style online platform Shimo, beefing up its portfolio of high-efficient workflow and collaboration products.