Episode Two


Randy Jusuf of Google Indonesia

IndoTekno Podcast, 19 January 2021


ALAN  0:11  
Welcome back one and all to Season Two, Episode Two of the Indo Tekno Podcast. Selamat berjumpa kembali. Today's guest needs very little introduction. Randy Jusuf is Managing Director for Google Indonesia. This chat has been many months in the making. And much of this time, I spent simply trying to cut down my question list from the many dozens that I began with, to a number that won't overwhelm Randy. A true pleasure to have you join us today, Randy.

Likewise, Alan. Thank you very much for inviting me. Super excited to be here.

ALAN  0:45  
Fantastic. Now, Randy, you have spent a large amount of your upbringing overseas for both your tertiary education and much of your professional life. Why did you come back to Indonesia?

I would say why wouldn't I come back to Indonesia, right? I grew up in Indonesia. And, other than missing the food and the family (my family members are here), I think the opportunity to come back to the country, and then the opportunity to join Google and be part of all this amazing digital transformation, is truly something hard to pass up, Alan. In fact, I recall when I first left Indonesia back in the early 90s, there was no internet at that time, only phones to catch up with my friends. But all throughout this time I was overseas, I was observing all these amazing unicorns shaping up, growing up. So I think the opportunity to come back, eating the amazing food, getting closer with my family, and being part of Google and being part of this amazing digital transformation, is something that is very hard for me to pass up.

ALAN  1:40  
Yeah, it all makes eminent sense. Now, Randy, prior to joining Google, you spent a large amount of your career in consumer goods with the likes of giant Kimberly Clark. How does this background inform your work as head of Google Indonesia today?

There are many things but first and foremost, I would say "mission", Alan. For those of you who are not as familiar with Kimberly Clark, Kimberly Clark is one of the paper goods, consumer goods companies, with brands like Kleenex, Huggies Diapers and whatnot. Kimberly Clark has a very earnest goal and mission to lead the world in providing essentials for a better life, whether it's diapers, tissue, or even adult care products for incontinence. During my time at Kimberly Clark, which was about more than eight years, it really helped form my belief that it's very important for me personally to be part of an organization whose mission is something that I personally believe in and am very passionate about. And I guess Google's mission is that as well. Probably most of you already know, Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful and helpful. That is a very worthwhile mission that I am very passionate about. And another thing I would say is relates to user and consumer good centric work. A consumer goods company like Kimberly Clark did a lot of research and is very passionate about their customers. And obviously, it is the same thing with Google. Google is all about our users. We put users at the front and center of our product, and we do tons of UX and UI research. So I think there's a lot of similarities between their missions, as well as a relentless focus on the user, Alan.

ALAN  3:08  
I definitely see those commonalities. Now Randy, what do we see as unique and interesting behaviors amongst Indonesian users in terms of how they use Google Search versus users in other Southeast Asian and developing countries?

The report that we just released in late quarter four about the trends of the "Year in Search" in Indonesia in 2020; a lot of that is with regard to search that is tied in with what's happening during this pandemic. There's a lot of search going on, specifically in Indonesia, in relation to employment, as well as online small businesses. Indonesians are entrepreneurs, I think you would agree. Just to give an example, words that people were searching for include "cara menjadi reseller", or "how to become reseller"; "bagaimana cara membuat hand sanitizer", or "how to make hand sanitizer". People are figuring out how to do business, especially in the midst of this, which obviously, is a terrible thing that creates a lot of anxiety. So Indonesians are pretty entrepreneurial. Now with regards to the rest of Southeast Asia, I would say there's a lot of similarities across this market. We talk a lot about "3V", which is Vernacular, Video and Voice. With regards to video search, specifically, YouTube scale around April last year reached more than 93 million Indonesian adults in terms of coverage. So that's pretty wide. And we also see that reflected in people's searching. So in addition to searching in Google Search as text, we do see a lot of people searching through video in YouTube search. So people also search over YouTube search, and people use a lot more YouTube as well to watch things like knowledge videos, and stuff like that. And last but not least, with voice we have Google Assistant. One of the ways that Indonesians use Google Assistant is to connect themselves with loved ones. And in fact, in 2019, over a fifth of the Google Assistant users placed calls and sent text through voice. A pretty interesting anecdote that I saw is that just in two months in late 2019, Google Assistant had told Indonesians 2 million jokes. So basically, Indonesians are very visual, whether it's video or even image as well, and they use voice a lot. I hope that gives you a bit of a perspective.

ALAN  5:10  
Fantastic. So I think we can distill it all down by describing your compatriots as "chatty entrepreneurs."

That's nice.

ALAN  5:18  
Excellent. So I believe Randy, you and I first met through the Google for Startups program here in Singapore. You remain deeply involved in Indonesia's startup landscape. Can you share any recent highlights of your involvement in this area?

I definitely remember that, Alan. So we are very committed to help and provide promising startups, mentoring networks and whatnot. Let me give you a couple of specific highlights. We have been having this Launchpad accelerator program which involves mentoring and networking. And the program has been running since 2016. Up to now we have about 26 startups. Some of them include RuangGuru, Hijab, Sirclo and whatnot. And the more recent ones late last year - the Google for Startups Southeast. Accelerator, had three from Indonesia out of several startups, which were Hacktiv8, Riliv and Kata.ai. We also want to have a diverse startup ecosystem that reflects what Indonesia and Southeast Asia are all about. So we have this initiative called Google for Startup Immersion for Women Founders targeted specifically for women founders across APEC. It is an eight week program, which lasted until November last year. We had two startups from Indonesia. Gadjian and Halosis were part of that. Last but certainly not least, Alan, gaming is something that is quite exciting. And we have global platforms like Google PlayStore and Android, which give Indonesian game and app developers access to consumers everywhere. One recent example is a company called Niji Games based in Jakarta that joined our indie game accelerator. They have published seven games with more than 1 million downloads each. In fact, their latest game called Umbra Amulet of Light, one of their hyper casual games, was a big hit. That's one where we partnered with Telkomsel one of Singtel's companies. And it is one of the first Indonesian gaming studios that received the Google Play Editor's Choice batch. So those are some examples, Alan, just amongst startups in general. 

ALAN  7:08  
Wow, what a wide span of programs. Now I've noticed that Google has also launched several programs to help various internet verticals recover in the wake of the COVID pandemic. One such initiative offers data and analytics tools to help Indonesia's travel industry recover. Randy, in which industries do you see now the most promising "green shoots" of recovery?

So I would say specifically on the "green shoots", for example, in December, we saw a huge interest in places like Bukittinggi in Sumatra in terms of destinations. You also see an increase in places like Pekanbaru and some places in Sumatra and whatnot. Obviously, it's quite nascent. Some are in recovery here and there with regards to certain parts of travel, but it is pretty much still up-and-down, Alan. We will have more specifics that we can share late in January. We'll be launching our annual "Year in Search" for brands, where we look at trends in different verticals like tech, media, entertainment, shopping, beauty, personal care, F&B, etc, etc. And check out our Indonesia Google blog. At that time, we can share a bit more about other verticals.

ALAN  8:11  
I'll very much look forward to seeing that. Now Randy, we at Indo Tekno are heavily focused on education as an important input to Indonesia's longer term success in technology. Google has a wide number of initiatives designed to improve levels of technical training and education in Indonesia. What do you feel to be the highest return and most sustainable initiatives that the private sector can undertake to support the educational system?

That's an excellent question, and something dear to our heart at Google and to me personally. You're correct, Alan. Indonesia has the world's fourth largest education system. We have over 64 million students. We have around 340,000 schools and learning institutions. We have almost 4 million teachers. One often cited perspective from the World Economic Forum is that in this new economy, the top three skills that are required would be: 1) complex problem solving skills, 2) critical thinking and 3) creativity; in order for one to be successful going forward. With regards to the private sector specifically; to us, number one, it is very critical for the private sector to partner with others, whether it's another private sector player, an NGO, a key stakeholder like the government; in order to support the education system. We announced a million dollar grant through our philanthropic arm Google.org to work with a nonprofit organization called Bebras to help with computational thinking. We want to empower 22,000 school teachers in over 22 cities, and to give teachers the tools and the skills to enable them to provide computational teaching with certain support. So that's one example at a foundational level. Another example at the more advanced level is something that I hope a lot of your listeners have heard about. It is what we call Bangkit. Bangkit is our Machine Learning Academy program. We work together very closely with Gojek, Tokopedia and Traveloka. It is an amazing program I would say. The Bangkit program aims to not only teach technical skills, but also provide some of the soft skills. We provide this for free. And the amazing result from the first batch was we had about half of the graduates coming from rural cities. Some 26% of the graduates are women, which is much higher than a typical program. I attended one of the kickoff sessions. It was amazing to see all these students super excited. There's a story of one student from Lombok who had taken motorcycle hours and hours by himself all the way to attend the opening. Things like that really, really touched our heart. Now we're working closely with the Ministry of Education and Culture to scale up to more students. The first batch had more than 200 students graduate. With the second batch, we're going to focus on Android, mobile computing, cloud computing, AI as well as TensorFlow; and we're offering it to more than 2,000 students as part of the Kampus Merdeka program of the Ministry of Education. And we're super excited to see these continue to scale. Those hopefully give the audience a bit of color in terms of what our perspective is with regards to education.

ALAN  11:00  
Definitely sounds like you're throwing both shoulders into it. Now, many of us saw President Jokowi's speech at the Google for Indonesia 2020 event several weeks back. The president referred to taking advantage of COVID to affect "large scale transformation, and take major leaps forward." What do these statements mean to you?

RANDY JUSUF  11:19  
I believe he is calling on all sectors of the economy to recognize the need to quickly adapt to the changing dynamics of the world economy, and especially on digital. President Jokowi spoke about digital infrastructure and how that can be an opportunity to open up more job opportunities. Indonesia has 64 million SMB's. SMB's account for 90%-plus of overall employment in Indonesia, about 60% of the GDP. So SMB's are critical. And digital can help with that. I believe the President understands that the SMB is the backbone of the economy. And if you don't embrace digital, there is risk of falling behind. Changing mindset is not easy. And that's why the President urged everybody, including the minister, to accelerate this transition towards digital, including with SMB's, and different industries as well. This fits in quite nicely with some of the initiatives that we've been doing. We're also working closely with the Tourism Ministry and Creative Economy where we help SMB's that are dedicated to tourism. We're working with 240 SMB's in five destinations. We help them go online through our program, called the Gapura Digital program. And that's in line with the "Wonderful Indonesia" campaign that Ministry of Tourism has. In summary, I think it's important for different sectors of the economy to embrace digital, including SMB's. Google will partner and work together to help that transformation. 

ALAN  12:36  
Makes sense. Now Randy, one of our guests to Indo Tekno from the educational realm reflected pretty solemnly that COVID has served to create "one big school vacation" for many children due to all of the complexities of distance learning. Now I believe we're working with the MOEC and MORA to help 45 million students and teachers make the transition to distance learning using G Suite for Education. Can you tell us more about this? 

RANDY JUSUF  13:02  
Learning is something that is front-and-center during this pandemic which is not a surprise. To the point that you made G Suite for Education: as of last year, we have more than 140 million students and educators globally using G Suite for Education to create, collaborate and whatnot. And in Indonesia specifically, we've worked together closely with different ministers for the rollout of G Suite for Education. It's at a domain called @belajar.id. Basically, we help around 45 million students with their distance learning. We work with the Minister of Education for about 38 million rollout's, as well as the Minister of Religious Affairs with some of the madrasa for around 7 million. So the total is about 45 million give-or-take. Basically, any student can apply for free for an ID with the domain of @belajar.id, which is from the Ministry of Education. And with that domain, they have free access to Mail, Google Classroom, Drive, elements of Workspace such as Doc, Sheets, etc. Another example is our philanthropic arm again, google.org, where we made another grant working together with one of the education-focused accelerators called INCO, to help equip students and teachers to have access during this difficult time. To give you one story: there's a student in Kintamani Bali called Komang Mirah, a teenager. She was very worried that during this pandemic she couldn't study online because she couldn't afford the internet package. And through our partnership with local nonprofit like Putera Sampoerna Foundation, we were able to help her with internet costs, as well as provide her own laptop; and now she can do all of this project-based learning online. And last, but certainly not least, is we don't want to forget about the teachers as well, Alan. During the early part of the pandemic, we worked closely with the Ministry but also with Telkomsel, Indosat, Ooredoo, Excel, Hutchison 3, Smartfren; all the different telcos, to provide free data up to 90 days for more than 10,000 teachers across Indonesia to help them have access to the internet. Hopefully that gives you a couple of examples in terms of what we've been doing with the ministers to provide the tools through digital education, to provide some grants, as well as well working with other partners, such as the telcos, in this case.

ALAN  15:03  
Definitely a very clear and consistent theme. Now Randy, one topic we've discussed on nearly all of our past Indo Tekno podcasts is the challenge of digital literacy. Whether it is trying to explain to a warung owner how to register his or her business on Google Maps, or instructing a small business on a new SaaS platform, I would say that it is the biggest challenge to startups in trying to gain revenue traction, whether you are a B2B or B2C business model. What do you feel will be the most effective means of cultivating digital literacy in Indonesia?

RANDY JUSUF  15:37  
So digital literacy overall is important, with SMB being the backbone of Indonesia's economy. It is critical for them to work to move towards digital. We've been working on it actually since 2015, Alan. We first launched our program that we called Gapura Digital, which I alluded to earlier. This is our training program for digital skills training for SMB owners. And we actually have an offshoot of that called WomenWill, where we specifically target women entrepreneurs. Before the pandemic, we did it offline. We provide it for free on the weekends: Saturday or Sunday. If you're an SMB or a woman entrepreneur, you can register for free, and they can come together in a place. And then we'll have volunteers helping teach these SMB owners just the basics of going to digital. What is it? It is as simple as how to service your information online through Google Maps, for example. How to do basic marketing, whether it's using social media or using any of our platforms. We teach it in a very practical manner and we use volunteers. Up to now, that program has been rolled out in 17 cities. We have trained more than 1.7 million, including more than 500,000 women, and we have a commitment to train up to 2 million. During COVID itself, we have trained more than 200,000. We believe this is quite effective because we do it at scale. We facilitate it, but we also leverage volunteers so it can be communicated in a way that is very practical. Another example, since you mentioned warung specifically, we also launched a program through which we partner with Bukalapak, which we call Mitra Bukalapak, to help some of these warung-warung. We make it easier for them to list their information on Google My Business, or Google Bisnisku, which then will be serviced in Google Maps, for example, and allow them to be found by different users and whatnot. 

ALAN  17:17  
Fantastic. Now Randy, I see that Google launched cloud service in Indonesia in June of last year, which is well before other tier-one competitors. Can you tell us why you chose to lead into Indonesia with cloud?

RANDY JUSUF  17:31  
Indonesia is the fastest growing digital economy in Southeast Asia. It's the largest, $44 billion going to $124 billion-plus in 2025. We've been offering Indonesian customers cloud service for years, but officially launched around June last year. It allows us to be even closer and be able to work with the financial industry, retail, manufacturing, and even state-owned enterprise, which has some other criteria as well; to also help them benefit from digitization and the modernization of their tech infrastructure. Now with regards to cloud specifically, we actually commissioned a study in order to understand its impact. And we found that public cloud deployment can contribute around $36 billion or so to GDP from 2019 to 2023. So I think the economic impact is pretty clear. And the needs are there, not only for the digital natives, but also for some of these more traditional industries. We hope, whether you're a traditional enterprise, state-owned public sector or even startup; you can leverage our storage, security, data, AI, ML, all the benefits of cloud. And with the cloud regions, it will be even faster. They'll be more reliable and less expensive than what you would have paid if you had to build it yourself.

ALAN  18:37  
Sounds like there's a lot of measurable benefit that offering cloud services in Indonesia brings along. Now, in the latest installment of the Google-Temasek-Bain report, we mentioned that 37% of all digital service consumers were new since the onset of the pandemic. What exactly has that meant for platforms in Indonesia, Randy?

RANDY JUSUF  18:58  
The Google-Temasek-Bain report is a report that we've released for several years now. I think this one was the fifth one. We sized the digital economy. With that, we cover online media, travel, transport, delivery, as well as e-commerce. Also in this installment, we actually augmented it with a study with Kantar. And that's what you refer to. About 37% of the digital service users are new. In addition to that, we found that 9 out of 10 of the new users actually intend to continue using the digital service, even post pandemic. So not only are they new, they're also here to stay. So, what it means for a platform: if you're an e-commerce platform, we saw that during this pandemic, e-commerce definitely shot up. You'll see more people using e-commerce, and I think they'll continue to grow. Healthtech and edtech were some of the sectors that we also highlighted as sprouting up during the pandemic last year. Other things include gaming and video streaming. We have 600 YouTube channels, each with more than 1 million subscribers covering different islands all over the country. Last but not least, in the context of investment, we also see the number of deals in the first half of last year (2020) actually increased compared to the first half of 2019. There were more than 200 deals compared to 120 in the first half of 2019. So overall, the word that we use was "cautiously optimistic". We see this as an acceleration towards digitalization across many tech platforms in Indonesia.

ALAN  20:22  
Randy, I'm stating the obvious by saying Google is the world's largest digital advertising company. Can you give us a sense of what types of digital advertising might recover most strongly this year, by form factor or by industry vertical? And are there any potential laggards? 

RANDY JUSUF  20:41  
I would say it is not only about recovery, but also about transformation. Automotive is one example. The automotive industry has amazing events. Basically, there is a big automotive show offline. Given the pandemic, obviously it is a challenge to be able to do just that. So we help them go online. And we did for the first time an Indonesian automotive festival together in partnership with the Automotive Association and the key automotive brands, as well as with the government. And through that initiative, we got amazing data in terms of many leads that they get from people looking to buy cars. So in some industries, it's actually not so much about recovery. It's actually an acceleration of the transition towards digitalization: reaching your consumers through digital for some of the verticals.

ALAN  21:25  
Now Randy, much has been written of Google's job matching Kormo app. Can you tell us where the inspiration for that came from, and what traction the app has seen in Indonesia?

RANDY JUSUF  21:35  
We launched the Kormo jobs app back in 2019. And the inspiration is our desire to help Indonesians, especially in the informal jobs market, Alan. And we want to serve entry level jobs. Because these jobs we found were rarely posted online. And there's limited structure and searchable repository of jobs for this type of role. We actually launched it also in Bangladesh. And now it's also available in India. So it's available in several countries now. And what we saw is that during COVID-19, for example, we also saw the needs continue. So we expanded offerings to include essential services and logistics. We launched features that allow interviews to be conducted online, jobs that can be done at home and things like that. In addition to that, we introduced new features. For example, we use our research and machine learning. We use AI to help jobseekers practice their English; soft skill training using English. For example, it enabled them to practice conversation with AI. Like, if a customer is returning items, what should they say. We work to also partner with more SMB's. We're partnering with over 100 local SMB's, which is part of our Gapura Digital training that I mentioned earlier. So we have more and more jobs. And we can make it easier for these SMB's to onboard and provide jobs. And the Kormo app just makes the process smoother. So therefore we can have more jobs, and not only jobs from the bigger companies, but also jobs from the SMB's. So those are some of the things that we have been doing with this amazing app.

ALAN  23:03  
I love the AI-driven interview skills, features and functions. That's very cool.

RANDY JUSUF  23:08  
Yeah, definitely.

ALAN  23:09  
Now Randy, what is your one greatest personal passion at this point in time?

RANDY JUSUF  23:14  
So I'll say, especially during this time Alan, I watch a lot of Star Trek Discovery stuff. I watch a lot of Mandalorian. I read a lot of books. I'm a fiction fantasy person. I'm reading this book called "Rhythm of War". Think of it as "Game of Thrones", but probably less bloody. I'm reading some nonfiction books like "The Psychology of Money". So I read a lot, and I spend a lot of time also watching shows, Alan.

ALAN  23:38  
Excellent. Wow, I have to confer with you around your science fiction reading list. It's clearly a common area of interest we have.

RANDY JUSUF  23:45  

ALAN  23:47  
Really appreciate you sharing all this with us. So many fascinating Google initiatives to follow going forward. Just want to thank you so much for taking time away from what must be one of the busiest schedules in Indonesian technology to join us today.

RANDY JUSUF  24:02  
Thank you very much for the opportunity, Alan. It is a pleasure speaking with you, and thank you for having me.

ALAN  24:07  
Absolutely. Terima kasih telah mendengarkan.  Sampai jumpa lagi!