According to a recent report, the leading Online-to-Offline (O2O) mobile platform in Southeast Asia, announced the opening of its new Research and Development (R&D) centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the company was first founded in 2012.
The R&D centre is the ride-hailing app company’s seventh, and an extension to its global R&D footprint that already includes teams based in Bangalore, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Seattle and Singapore.
The Kuala Lumpur centre underlines the company’s commitment to nurturing deep tech talent in its home region.
The ride-hailing app plans to hire 100 tech employees for its Kuala Lumpur R&D centre in its first year of operations, including software engineers, data scientists and data analysts. The team will focus on developing and enhancing real-time communications features such as VOIP calls via the company’s chat app, building new and exciting web products for the firm and improving and developing new safety measures through machine learning.
An example of how the company uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance safety is its Driver Fatigue feature, that calculates a “fatigue score” based on factors like how long the driver has been on the road, time of day, rest between shifts and even his or her age and profile. When a driver hits a high fatigue threshold, they will be sent a notification to take a break.
Since the end of 2017, the company has doubled its tech headcount across its six R&D centres and plans to add 1,000 new tech roles in 2019. The company’s expansion of its R&D network will support its continued growth and evolution as it moves to become the first everyday super app in Southeast Asia.
This year alone the company has seen accelerated expansion into payments, as well as new verticals such as food, grocery and parcel deliveries. The ride-hailing app company has also expanded its presence from 30 cities at the start of 2017 to 235 cities today.
In Malaysia, the company is in more than 30 major cities and townships across the country.
While the majority of the team will continue to work on core transport projects, the growth in the company’s tech bench will fuel continued development of its platform which is a suite of APIs for partners to integrate their services with the company, as the company prepares to see a surge in partnerships and services over the next 12 months.
The firm is also boosting its AI capabilities as it aims to leverage on its data – one of the largest datasets of Southeast Asia – not only to improve and develop new services but also to solve some of the region’s most complex challenges such as congestion and financial inclusion.
The chief technology officer stated that the firm doesn’t build tech for tech’s sake. They build it to solve problems, to create opportunities, to lift people and economies. That’s why the company will continue to fortify its team and invest in talent, to meet the scale of its ambition and the challenges it wants to solve.
The company’s decision to establish an R&D centre in Malaysia is an extension of its philosophy of developing highly localized solutions in the countries where the firm’s consumers reside while tapping into the best specialised tech talent around the world.
It was also noted that the company’s model of distributed engineering teams allows the company to access specific sets of expertise in each of its R&D centres around the world, such as machine learning, predictive data analytics, mobile-first technology, and consumer-focused user experience.