In this #mtpcon Digital APAC keynote, Bruce Haldane, Chief Product Officer at Gojek — Indonesia’s first unicorn and largest on-demand multi-service platform — discusses the importance of protecting the ecosystem through a global pandemic, and adapting to scale.
Watch the talk in full or read on for the overview. Mind the Product members can also watch the recordings of all our #mtpcon Digital APAC talks here.
- Harnessing supply-demand opportunities
- Adapting for COVID-19 and nurturing an ecosystem
- Balancing social responsibility at scale
Bruce begins by painting a portrait of 2010 post-recession Indonesia, at that time home to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy: he speaks about how ‘astronomical levels of investment’ gave rise to the opening of mega malls, increasing economic disparity, and a huge boom in car ownership, which began to cause infrastructure issues (in a country previously governed by two-wheeled vehicles).
In the midst of all this economic growth, one of Gojek’s co-founders, Nadiem Makarim, saw a supply-demand opportunity to harness the market. The country’s beloved “ojeks” (scooters) were being neglected, but consumers and their needs were growing. In short, Makarim created Gojek as a purpose-driven product, with a mission to connect drivers to customers. Over time, Gojek morphed into something greater, establishing itself as an on-demand app-based company, set up to reach more consumers (GoRide, GoShop, etc.), before adding an ePayments arm and expanding into other markets (GoBiz, GoGreener). As a result, in 2019 Gojek’s total production value was equivalent to 1% of Indonesia’s GDP.
Adapting for COVID-19: protecting the ecosystem
Of course, COVID-19 struck in 2020, and Gojek was quick to adapt. Bruce stresses the importance of health and safety for drivers, his experience working with the government, and consideration of merchants and consumers: “What were the concerns? What were the possible areas of anxiety? And how can we help them overcome that?” Gojek witnessed an increase in the demand for grocery, for example, and responded by scaling out the brands on offer to provide a bigger range for consumers, opportunities for free merchants, and more work for drivers.
As the year progressed, Gojek continued to demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility, launching a series of programmes to help with medical insurance, education, leasing assistance, affordable meals, and so forth. One 2020 survey detailing the UX score for global food delivery apps saw Gojek top the charts, which Bruce says “reflects the amount of effort that [Gojek] really put into this end-to-end.”
In order to become more resilient throughout the pandemic, the company also developed 3 super apps: one for the consumer, to fulfil their daily needs; one for drivers, to optimise their productivity and income; and one for merchants, to increase turnover and scale their business.
Customer lens framework and lean machine
With Gojek’s expansion, it has become increasingly paramount to focus on the company’s original purpose using a formal system Bruce refers to as the ‘customer lens framework.’
This consists of asking 3 questions:
- Are customers happy?
- Are we growing?
- Are we delivering value?
Using these questions to generate hypotheses, and facilitating experimentation and validation, Gojek then back-researched ideas with a large commitment of resources and continual iteration. Bruce explains that “we focus on what will have the most impact and be most appreciated by people […] it’s one of the most important things that all of us can do as Product.”
Impact at scale and multi-objective optimisation: introducing Jaeger
Bruce introduces Jaeger, a multi-objective allocation system which combines machine learning models — a result of this continual iteration — developed as a way of improving the allocation and optimisation of data which is being collected in the Gojek ecosystem, as part of “absolutely millions and millions of transactions happening every day”, Bruce quotes Arthur C. Clark, describing how “any appropriately advanced technology appears like magic.”
Gojek’s Machine Learning (ML) models can be used in combination depending on what they want to achieve, allowing for further experimentation and optimisation: from Feast, the feature store platform which ingests, stores, and retrieves ML features, to Lasso, the orchestrator for every truck driver which will ensure success for the customer.
Another microservice Meister allows the company to optimise the multiple business objectives, bending allocation in every direction to unify the ecosystem. “We could not do this well,” Bruce says, “without any huge investments in data, and machine learning.”
A consumer-first approach
Bruce ends by reminding us that “it is possible to have incredible growth. Be a very ethical and socially responsible and consumer-first product company. But look after everybody in your ecosystem. And it’s one of the reasons that many of us are here.”
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