NEED TO KNOW / July 2019

Showing the Way

Regular upgrades of the navigation app, along with a community of users providing live traffic updates, have made it indispensable to road users. Marlin R. Siahaan, newly appointed country manager for Waze, has been tasked with further solidifying the app’s presence in Indonesia, as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to deliver effective digital solutions. She recently took some time off her busy schedule to speak with GlobeAsia’s Gilang Al Farisi about the future of the community-based company.

Community support is indispensable in helping the company stay relevant in a fast-paced world. Marlin said the main aspect the company seeks to develop involves the data users continually feed the app. “Waze has become one of the most utilized community-based applications in the country; that is why we want to develop the app to further suit the needs of users by way of artificial intelligence and deep learning, while also listening to client feedback,” she said. There are currently more than 50 active volunteers who spend their time to develop the app. “We actively meet with this community, and heed their advice in developing our product,” Marlin said. “The group’s input has given Waze some of the most important updates in regards to real-time map data, which in turn, has saved other users time in traffic.

Another aspect Waze is focusing on, is in-app mobile advertising. With this being one of the company’s main sources of income, Waze works with several companies to develop better ad strategies. “As we are mainly a navigating application, we would not want our users to be bombarded with promotions while on the road. We only broadcast promos while a user is stationary in traffic, or at a red light,” Marlin said. “Another strategy we adopted is partner-pin locations, where we promote certain companies when a user reaches a specific location, which has been particularly popular with fast-food restaurants, automotive companies and fuel distributors.” With more than 4 million users and average usage of 81 minutes a day, Waze has not been short of interested parties keen to access such a massive captive audience.

Marlin is passionate about the rapid development of technology, particularly the way it drives new innovations in marketing. Whether it helps to build brand awareness or deliver data-driven initiatives, technology is making it possible for real-time engagement. Which is why she is especially proud of the collaboration between Waze and the Jakarta Smart City program, which aims to reduce the level of traffic congestion in the capital. Despite the growing number of competing navigation apps, Marlin is confident that Waze will maintain its position as the best product.

“Waze has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world, partly because it is one of the fist navigational apps that became available to the public, but also because of our constant efforts to upgrade the system,” Marlin said. “The app is customizable to local traffic rules and regulations, such as the odd-even traffic rationing system, and it also has a mode for motorcycles, which allows riders to use roads that are often not available to motorists.” Waze’s machine-learning feature records users’ driving habits, making interactions more personal. The app can remind users that they may be driving too fast, or alert them of hazards on the road. The interaction with advertising banners has also been upgraded to a level where the app can navigate users to businesses that are offering promotions. Waze can also be linked with other apps to create a one-stop solution. With the experience the company has gained over the years and the level of trust the brand has earned, Waze is ready to tackle future challenges with Marlin at the helm in Indonesia.