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Click A Taxi Revolutionizes the Taxi Industry with Robots,
Web Crawlers, and Synthetic APIs
Transcript of a BriefingsDirect...
manager would do three to five dry runs with us, driving around the city where he was based,
testing the product.
That was ...
The traditional way of doing this is by integrating very deeply into their IT systems, which is a
very tedious three-month...
Nissen: We work on a purely pay-as-you-go basis. They only pay us if they get extra work. It's
not the first time that some...
them. We have this internal rule that, if a specific person has a set of tasks that takes more than
than 30 minutes a day, ...
would be able to see possibilities. With Kapplets, Kapow will probably have even bigger success
with companies, enabling t...
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Click A Taxi Revolutionizes the Taxi Industry with Robots, Web Crawlers, and Synthetic APIs

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Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Kapow's software has enabled a Danish startup to integrate with taxi companies worldwide.

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Click A Taxi Revolutionizes the Taxi Industry with Robots, Web Crawlers, and Synthetic APIs

  1. 1. Click A Taxi Revolutionizes the Taxi Industry with Robots, Web Crawlers, and Synthetic APIs Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Kapow's software has enabled a Danish startup to integrate with taxi companies worldwide. Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Sponsor: Kapow Technologies Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect panel discussion coming to you from the 2013 Kapow.wow user conference in Redwood Shores, California. We're here to explore the latest in real-time data acquisition, rapid information integration, and proven ways to extract business value from big data from multiple sources. We'll hear how innovative companies are dodging data complexity through the use of Synthetic APIs. We'll see how -- from across many different industries and regions of the globe -- inventive companies are able to get the best information delivered to those who can act on it -- with speed, and at massive scale. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I'll be your moderator as our panel explains how they improved data-use benefits from novel information integration to gain business success. [Kapow Technologies is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.] Our next innovator interview examines the improved data use benefits at Click A Taxi in Copenhagen. Here to explain how improved information integration and delivery can be made into business success, we're joined by Søren Nissen, the CEO and Founder of Click A Taxi. Glad to have you with us. How did you start out and what were some of the challenges you faced? Søren Nissen: We started out trying to figure out how we'd solve this this issue of making sure that you can get a trustworthy and reliable taxi service anywhere you go. That was the vision when we when we started out. Coming from the mobile industry, I was doing third-party logistics from for operators, telcos, and OEMs like Blackberry. One of the major pain points on implementing a new customer was doing the integration work with their applications. Typically, they wouldn't have a standardized API or anything. So, knowing that I had this business idea of wanting to to deliver a reliable taxi service on on a global scale, I also knew that I didn't want to venture into this idea by relying on the taxi companies to to do this integration work with us. When when the idea started, it was very important that it be built around the concept that we could do all of the integration work. They didn't have have to lift a finger. Maybe their OPs
  2. 2. manager would do three to five dry runs with us, driving around the city where he was based, testing the product. That was our approach to solving this. Very early on, one of one of my good friends made me aware of Kapow. He was using it for scraping the internet for data, and I started wondering whether I could use Kapow the other way around. I would use it to post data. That's how I got into Kapow and how we started using that as a key element in our booking engine. Gardner: So when you began to look at the technologies available for solving your problems, did you look at any of the traditional ways of doing this first? Straight-through process Nissen: The starting point was that we built the robots and the crawlers to do this work ourselves. But going into the design, I also wanted to make sure, since this would be very, very important for us, that it was a straight- through process. Building a crawler can sometimes be a bit tedious and very complex. Also, if all of that knowledge would be sitting in the head of one of my developers, I would be very vulnerable as a startup to that developer leaving. Any startup is very , especially around building the team. I wanted to make sure that we could streamline and make it a standard procedure from from day one, to build a crawler robot, store it, and and execute it from the code. If that developer were to leave or be run over by a car, it would be very easy for me to pull off the street a web developer who's good at HTML and CSS and say, "This is Kapow, and this is how it works. This is how you build a robot. By the way, all of the existing robots are stored right here. You can take them, play around with them, and start building new ones." Gardner: For the benefit of our audience who might not be familiar with robot the way you're using it, maybe you could describe what it does. Nissen: Priceline uses it to compare pricing for products across different e-commerce vendors. You can build a crawler robot that will, when you ask it to, go on a web page, read the web page structure and content, understand it, and report it back. As far as the way we use it, imagine you have an app to order a taxi and you press the book button. We will take your your user settings, last name, phone number, what have you, and a GPS location. We have the address of that booking. We go to a taxi company and automatically place that booking into their IT systems.
  3. 3. The traditional way of doing this is by integrating very deeply into their IT systems, which is a very tedious three-month process. Where we've streamlined it, we don't need their help. We find our own entry point to their IT platform. We'll figure out how their platform works and post all of the content. We also scan their platform to get a status update of where the taxi is. Is it on its way? When will it arrive? What's the GPS location of the taxi? And we'll use that on on our side. Coming from the logistics industry, building those interfaces between two IT platforms is a three-month process. We've gone to being able to develop a robot, test it, and deploy it in in as little as two days. Gardner: And this has been for thousands of cab companies. Tell us about the scale of your company and how it's grown so fast. This is obviously successful. Tell us how successful. Nissen: We launched in Denmark in in October 2011, and went live in 15 Danish cities. Denmark is only five million in population. So, the cities are very limited by by size. Then launched in Sweden, then Norway and today, we're live in in about two and a half thousand cities. And we are beta testing in an additional two and a half thousand cities on on a global scale. So, it's 50 countries and 5,000 cities, giving us access to more than 300,000 taxis worldwide. IT capabilities Gardner: You mentioned a little earlier that there are a number of ways to use the Kapow platform. You've chosen to use one way. Tell us about some of the other technology that you're using. What does it take to to do what you're doing in addition to just connecting data -- a little bit more about your IT capabilities. Nissen: Obviously, we've built a smartphone app for the consumer. It's free to download and free to use. You'll download it on your on your phone. Enter your your user settings and press "book." It will connect to our background engine, which is on a cloud-based server. We have we have a cloud-based server only for only running Kapow. Our background engine is is integrated with the Kapow API. So it will execute a crawler or robot on demand. Then, our background engine will tell the robot go to this taxi company's IT platform and post this information. Then, every minute, it will go there and ask the status of my order. If the user presses cancel in the app, it'll be a different type of robot going to the taxi company's platform and saying cancel it. But everything is run in the cloud. We use Amazon servers to to run Kapow, and everything is is running very seamlessly. Gardner: This has clearly worked for you, and I imagine you can move this to many cities as as you want. What about the taxi companies? Are they seeing this as a great way to generate additional business? And how does the efficiency of seeing that data, which they may not have had before, benefit them?
  4. 4. Nissen: We work on a purely pay-as-you-go basis. They only pay us if they get extra work. It's not the first time that someone approached them to say "We will give you extra business, but we have to do integration to automate it." They will say they don't have an IT person or an IT department. They start seeing the dollars rolling in their eyes, because they know they have to go to their IT provider, pay by the hour, and it's going to be a long process. Before they even get the chance to say no, we tell them, "Listen, by the way, it's not going to cost you anything." We do all of the integration work. We give them access to a reporting tool that will show exactly the type of customers. Generally, we we tend to greatly increase the amount of non-local customers with them. It can be a Londoner using our product in in Manchester, which means we will even show them statistics about the demographics of their users. The first time you'd use our app in London, we would say it's a very high probability that he belongs to London. We will then track your usage, and the cab companies see that 1) they get extra business, 2) they actually get to tap into people for whom normally it would be completely random which cab company they would use. You get to Manchester and you don't know the the taxi companies there. You'll probably even Google a taxi saying "taxi Manchester," and whoever would be first on the list, you would call. We take that element away from them and and make sure that they get the business. Consumer benefits Gardner: Now, the end user, the person hailing the taxi, is gaining, too. They've got a lower risk in terms of knowing what kind of taxi. And you're also providing data back to them on their mobile device. Have you been able to track or chart or measure the benefits to the to the end consumer? Nissen: First of all, they get, as you said, a pre-vetted and qualified taxi company. We will typically work with one preferred partner in a city. So, the user will will get a more reliable service, typically a faster service, where we know they can use their credit card, and so forth. We will also estimate the ETA, so that the user can better plan, if they have a schedule of business meetings. We will let them know, when they open the app, when they can expect the taxi to arrive. Gardner: Now, we're here at the user summit for Kapow. What have you been hearing that makes you interested in in bringing more of the Kapow platform technology into play here? Is there something that's been specifically interesting to you that you've heard so far? Nissen: Yes, they they've been talking quite a bit about one of their new product releases, 9.2 with Kapplets, where a business user can actually build their own robots, store them, and execute
  5. 5. them. We have this internal rule that, if a specific person has a set of tasks that takes more than than 30 minutes a day, the same task over and over and over again, we'll build a robot for it and try to automate it. Today, we've built 50 percent of the Kapplets ourselves. Our finance manager can go to our robot builder and say, "Can you do this for me," and he will build it. He will make it deployable from our admin system. Now, Kapplets will allow the finance manager to build it himself and deploy and execute it himself, which is very interesting. It it helps us keep the entire staff productive. I'm very excited about hearing more about that. Gardner: It's difficult to measure return on investment (ROI). Some of these are soft indicators like productivity, but do you have any sense of what using Kapow has been able to do for you as an organization in terms of reduced man hours or labor? Could you have been able to build this company without Kapow? Nissen: I could have built it without Kapow, but the difference would be that I would probably have four or five developers only building web crawlers and robots and and building some kind of management tool to store them and execute them. Essentially, Kapow has has meant I don't have to hire five developers to do the the work. First of all, finding a developer who knows the concept of web automation and building a synthetic API for scraping a web page is actually very limited. The talent and resource pool for doing this is small, which means you want to be able to do all of this with as few resources as possible. Kapow has has helped us do this. A good rule of thumb is probably that one developer will be able to do the work of 5 to 10 developers easily. Getting started Gardner: We're about out of time, Søren. Any words of wisdom or hindsight for others who are looking into data integration in a complex, dynamic environment? Is there something you may have done differently or that you could relay to them as they get started? Nissen: As I mentioned briefly in in the beginning, I came from the third-party logistics industry, and I was dedicated to implementing new customers. If I had known that I could automate procedures like this with Kapow, I would have used it all the time. I've also been an operations director for a logistics company, the same logistics company in Eastern Europe, where we had a lot of local procedures that aren't automated this way. Very often, your imagination is limited by the fact that it's going to be too difficult, because it doesn't have an API or anything.    So, if you put this product in front of a finance manager in any company and show that finance manager how he could automate all of his his tasks and throw out some of his spreadsheets, he
  6. 6. would be able to see possibilities. With Kapplets, Kapow will probably have even bigger success with companies, enabling them in automating. Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We've been talking about how Click A Taxi in Copenhagen has improved information integration and delivery using Kapow technology and a synthetic API approach to gain significant business benefits. Please join me in thanking our guest, Søren Nissen, the CEO and Founder of Click A Taxi. Thanks for being on BriefingsDirect. And thanks to our audience for joining this special discussion, coming to you from the 2013 Kapow Wow user conference in Redwood Shores, California. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Kapow Software-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions. Thanks for listening, and come back next time. Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Sponsor: Kapow Technologies Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how Kapow's software has enabled a Danish startup to integrate with taxi companies worldwide.  Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved. You may also be interested in: • Kapow Mobile Katalyst debuts as new means to rapidly convert web applications to mobile apps sans APIs • Mobile enablement presents challenges, opportunities as enterprises retool apps for the future now • Some thoughts on the Microsoft and Nokia tag team on mobile or bust news • Kapow launches data integration platform for rapid data delivery to multiple devices • Android gaining as enterprises ramp up mobile app development across platforms and business models • Why HTML5 enables more businesses to deliver more apps to more mobile devices with greater ease • Web Data Services Extend Business Intelligence Depth and Breadth Across Social, Mobile, Web Domains

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