AirAsia and Google Cloud have launched a new partnership to enhance the airline’s digital travel and lifestyle platform, airasia Super App. The five-year strategic collaboration aims to advance airasia Super App’s vision of a co-innovation ecosystem that all businesses and developers can partake in to serve the daily needs of people in the region.
The two organisations will combine core competencies to nurture technology talent, co-create software tools for open innovation, deliver data-driven intelligence on behalf of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on the platform, and ensure accessibility for diverse users in cities and rural areas.
airasia Super App, which operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, is a key digital pillar for Capital A, previously AirAsia Group.
The platform offers flight and hotel bookings, e-commerce, food and parcel delivery, ride-hailing, financial and health services, on-demand education and more, anchored by an integrated rewards programme and mobile wallet.
Tony Fernandes, CEO, Capital A, said: “Five years ago, when I decided to move our digital journey to its next stage, I was looking for a partner to help us reach that nirvana, much like how Airbus and General Electric helped us grow from a little two-plane operation to become the fourth largest airline in Asia. I went around the US looking for that partner, met Diane Greene from Google Cloud, and the journey started. With Thomas and his team, we are now on the road to disrupting the digital platform arena in the same vein as we did airlines. We may be late in the game, but with the Super App as the centre of our ecosystem of e-commerce, logistics and fintech, we are determined to give all 700 million people in Asean inclusivity, accessibility and value.
“With Google’s help, our ecosystem will not only be transactional, but be about building community, and enriching that community – not just the customers but partners like restaurants, airlines, hotels and drivers. I’m excited to reveal how airasia and all of Capital A’s assets will transform Asean and deliver value, not only in transactions but in making Asean a smaller place. What we are doing is not evolutionary, but revolutionary. I’m going to enjoy the ride with Google.”
The strategic collaboration and ecosystem building efforts will encompass four pillars:
- Fostering an agile culture and co-innovation talent engine: airasia Super App and Google Cloud will establish a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) consisting of AirAsia Allstars and Google Cloud technologists. The CCoE will embed an agile culture across all airasia Super App business units to accelerate product development velocity, enable teams to embrace change, and upskill talent. This includes tapping Google Cloud’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and MLOps best practices, so staff and AirAsia Academy graduates can strengthen their technical capabilities and meet the requirements of the fast-growing business. As an extension of Google Cloud’s product development team, the CCoE will also drive co-innovation efforts to shape technological advances for the region and beyond.
- Ensuring seamless user access anytime and anywhere, on any device: By leveraging Google Cloud’s secure and scalable infrastructure, and advanced microservices, serverless and networking technologies, the CCoE will enhance the airasia Super App so that it remains robust, reliable and lightweight as more features and services are continuously added. This ensures that the platform runs seamlessly when accessed by a high volume of users at any given time, including those in rural areas with intermittent internet connectivity or using lower-cost smartphones with less storage capacity.
- Unlocking data-driven insights to fuel MSME growth: By deploying Google Cloud’s leading analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, the CCoE’s data scientists can unify and analyse datasets to glean real-time insights into customer sentiment and emerging trends. These include an understanding of the travel sector’s recovery trajectory and consumption patterns around food delivery, ride-hailing and more. The insights will enable the platform to serve hyper-personalised recommendations to users on behalf of MSMEs and help grow these businesses’ revenue streams.
- Empowering partners and developers to co-innovate and contribute: By adopting Google Cloud’s open-source principles and infrastructure, the CCoE will develop a suite of software development kits (SDKs) that ecosystem partners and external developers can use to expeditiously and cost-effectively create new features and services for airasia Super App users. These will include reusable software components for biometric identification, chatbots, e-wallets, online travel bookings and more. Google will also tap airasia Super App’s in-region network to expand its developer community in Southeast Asia.
“To benefit everyone across Southeast Asia’s heterogeneous communities, the airasia Super App must be simple and easy-to-use while underpinned by inclusive design, interoperability and personalisation,” said Amanda Woo, CEO, airasia Super App. “It’s therefore crucial that we leverage Google’s rich experience in building global platforms and ecosystems to equip and engage more talent, entrepreneurs and partners who can provide even more tailor-made solutions that fit users’ lives. What we’re announcing today is just the beginning, and we look forward to exploring further co-innovation initiatives with Google, whether in digital travel planning, self-driving cars, cloud gaming, startup investment, or supporting frontline workers through Google Workspace.”
“Super-apps are helping small businesses thrive and stimulate economies. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that 70% of new economic value generated in the next decade will be driven by digital platform business models,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud. “airasia Super App is an inspiring example of a company that’s innovating using cloud-first technologies to better reach and serve their customers. We’re proud to be working with Tony and his team to further develop talent and an open innovation ecosystem to meet diverse digital lifestyle needs across Southeast Asia.”
At the upcoming FTE Ancillary conference in Dublin on 7-9 June, AirAsia’s Head of e-Commerce Ben-Jie Lim will share lessons learned so far from the carrier’s efforts to transform into a digital travel and lifestyle company, and key recommendations for others looking to hugely scale up their e-commerce efforts. Find out more and register to attend here.