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How SOCAR is Paving the Road to a Connected Future with Maxis

SOCAR Malaysia has managed to go from strength to strength despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. From offering hassle-free car rentals via an app, it has now added a peer-to-peer car sharing service called Trevo, and has even partnered with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) to aid their crimefighting efforts.

Standing out in the crowd

When asked just how SOCAR is differentiating itself from the competition, SOCAR’s chief technology officer Mustafa Zaidi said that it was doing so on various fronts.

“One of our differentiators is that SOCAR users can self-onboard with the app, self-book and basically go, unlock, and drive. No paperwork involved. No office to collect the key.” Mustafa also said SOCAR set itself apart with its growing fleet of over 2,300 cars with a variety of models that provide plenty of choice for users.

“We have over 36 models live on our platform today, and more are coming, ranging from economy models to continentals.”

The essentially contactless experience has also given SOCAR an advantage. Mustafa said, “I think contactless [operations] helps us a lot.” He said users would feel more secure about renting cars as they did not need to interact with anyone and not have to worry, even in an environment where strict pandemic SOPs were in place.

Connectivity: the pulse of operations

“We’d be nothing without connectivity,” said Mustafa. “Obviously, we are a mobile app and our user base is 100% users of mobile apps on smartphones.”

SOCAR, however, is more than the app alone – it is on telemetry devices, mobile SIMs that allow communication with the cars, allowing for commands to be sent to, for instance, unlocking and locking the car as well as getting telemetry data.

The data is crucial for SOCAR to manage each individual vehicle.

“Where is the car located? How fast is it going? How much fuel does it have? What’s the mileage on it? All of these details are coming to our back office in the cloud, from the cars themselves using effectively mobile connectivity, so it’s a crucial part of our service,” said Mustafa.

SOCAR’s selection of the right mobile connectivity provider was vital to the service’s operations. While Mustafa agreed that reliability and uptime were crucial factors that went into the decision, he said, “Service continuity, I think, comes number one.”

Besides that, coverage was also a very important criterion. “We are a nationwide service, thus we are in several states in West Malaysia as well as East Malaysia, so of course, we need nationwide coverage.”

It was a frequent occurrence for SOCAR users to need to drive into remote locations, so service continuity, as well as coverage, were two key requirements that needed to be met by their chosen mobile connectivity provider.

Thus SOCAR’s decision to work with Maxis was hinged on those factors.

A service to rely on

Working with Maxis, Mustafa said, has overall been great.

“I think that the reliability of Maxis as a service has been pretty good, and that’s my own experience after working with SOCAR in the last two years.”

He noted that there were few complaints from users about accessibility, even in more remote areas where typically mobile connectivity would be a challenge.

“We often have our cars parked in underground locations, where, for example, other networks would have low connectivity, low signal,” he said.

For SOCAR, however, the company was able to send commands from its hub to its vehicles as well as consistently get data from its cars, a testament to the reliability of the service so far.

This seamless connectivity pairs with the smooth experience of being a SOCAR user. Signing up is quick and hassle-free, with users only needing to verify themselves with a valid Malaysian ID as well as a driver’s license, all within the app itself.

Users can also select various add-ons, including premium insurance for extra peace of mind, and besides credit or debit card payment options, SOCAR now offers its own e-wallet as well as the option to use GrabPay.

SOCAR has essentially condensed the entire car rental experience into a mobile device.

Mitigating risk

Of course, owning and managing a fleet of cars come with challenges, including managing growth, maintenance, and dealing with theft attempts or accidents.

Mustafa said that SOCAR relies on data to help meet its needs. “We have deployed machine learning models to help us with some risk reduction,” he said.

He said whether it was verifying license validity or flagging high-risk users indulging in risky behaviours such as speeding, the data has helped reduce theft attempts as well as accident frequency significantly.

“Honestly, a lot of this wouldn’t be possible without the cellular connectivity that we have in our cars, each one of our cars being equipped with an IoT device and telemetry device,” he said.

Besides location, SOCAR is also able to remotely monitor fuel levels, battery levels, odometer readings, mileage, and various other crucial data points.

“Mobile connectivity would be key to understanding driver behaviour with data, with regional expansion also on the cards,” said Mustafa.