CIO at Bluebird Group
With well over a quarter of a billion residents and a capital city housing more people than London, Indonesia is a market primed for rideshare startups.
These new arrivals are, however, overshadowed by one company that’s been instrumental to the nation’s development, synonymous with both taxicabs and technology.
Jakarta-based Blue Bird Group celebrates 50 years in business this year. Beginning life as a startup in 1972, founder Mutiara Djokosoetono had a specific vision from the outset: to generate a culture that would fully embrace technology.
The company can point to a number of historic firsts – in the 1970s, Bluebird Group was the first transport provider with a call centre in Jakarta. And, making use of one of the earliest mobile tech platforms, the Group worked with BlackBerry’s parent company, Research in Motion, in 1997 to allow people to call for transport using the handset as a data device, rather than simply phoning in the call.
Today, in 2022, the company is continuing this technological journey and heading off competition from more recent startup rideshare companies.
“We are a provider of taxi services, above all, so we make sure the clients receive privileged service,” explains Andoko Wicaksono, CIO of Bluebird Group. “This starts with the ease of ordering a taxi, the promptness and cleanliness of the car, the courtesy of the drivers when they greet the customer, and more.
“In Indonesia, we are very famous on that front – for clean, honest and high-level service.”
Blue Bird Group puts people first with technology
Wicaksono explains that Bluebird Group’s modernisation plans place people firmly at the forefront. With more than 20,000 vehicles and drivers working for the company – in addition to millions of customers – people are an important part of its continued success.
“We are also committed to being secure by design; we’re always thinking about security, how it’s done, and how it works with policies and controls,” says Wicaksono. “Furthermore, we’re agile and committed to continuous improvement. We need to maintain the investment in our people, and the team has to embrace the job.”
Placing trust and reliability at the centre of Bluebird Group’s transformational plans, though, presents a challenge: finding the right balance between customer integrity and providing the best possible services.
“People should be able to trust us to handle their data in a secure manner,” says Wicaksono. “For example, when you submit data on our website or in our apps, we should handle the data correctly and not share it; if we move the data from different environments, we have to be secure.”
Bluebird Group already utilises cloud platforms for data storage, but it also has 40 physical sites across Indonesia that must be networked into the company in a secure manner.
“As you can imagine, there are a lot of challenges in managing communications between the sites – particularly the remote sites where communications systems might not be as advanced as in Java,” explains Wicaksono. “So the priority is still security, even though we may sacrifice, for example, speed. But that isn’t that much of a sacrifice, as the infrastructure is improving.”
A passion for programming drives technology ambitions
Wicaksono hails from a technology background – he co-founded London-based Switchlab, which focused on the R&D aspect of telecom technology, then went on to take a range of influential CIO and CTO roles in telecom companies and startups, before joining Blue Bird Group in June 2022.
And his love for technology extends beyond the office, as Wicaksono has built his very own home IT lab to test hardware and software, while having fun at the same time.
“I have a passion for robotics, so I have a number of small robots at home,” grins Wicaksono. “I also have a passion for programming on Python, so I have some Raspberry Pis to help with home automation.”
While the home lab initially grew out of Wicaksono’s curiosity about tech hardware and software, he found that it also helped to effortlessly maintain his excitement for programming and coding, despite the considerable demands on his time from other business areas.
“But family and friends don’t go in my lab,” says Wicaksono with another smile. “It’s my den.”
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