People in technology spotlight. Bernhardt Engerer, Data Analyst at eCabs Technology Division.

Notwithstanding these challenging times, eCabs keeps investing in its resources with BERNHARDT ENGERER as the latest addition to its in-house team of data analysts. “I already knew eCabs as a tech-oriented company, but I never expected the level of human-machine interaction driving this company towards the future of mobility”, he says.

What is your background and why did you go into data analysis?

Although I started my career in software development, I transitioned into the field of data analysis quite early on in my career, and have been perfecting my skills in this area for the past 6 years.  When I originally started digging my teeth into data analysis, it consisted mainly in developing visualisation tools, such as trend graphs and charts, analysing historical time sensitive data in order to gain a clear understanding of any seasonal trends. 

Eventually, as I started delving into more complex machine learning and A.I. techniques, I got more intrigued by the insight that data could provide and the way businesses are making strategic decisions based on insight. Rather than just reporting results of past actions, I started focusing on understanding the outcomes and making inferences from these outcomes. One of my biggest motivations in pursuing my career in data analytics is being able to aggregate data from multiple sources, create interactive visuals to interpret it and then create or apply algorithms that learn from that data to solve real-life problems. 

What was your perception of eCabs before you joined and what attracted you?  

I always associated eCabs with mobility technology and industry disruption. 

As a person with a fascination for big data, I aspired to work for a company that appreciates the value of data and invests in it. Working at eCabs as a Data Analyst is a unique opportunity for me to work closely with like-minded individuals to extract trends and usage patterns from the wealth of information that is available to us. We use a variety of data augmentation techniques and develop tools that help us reveal interesting insight, which in turn helps the company to make more informed decisions.

What was your induction like?

I joined at a very particular time. It was the second week of March. On my first day, I found myself in an empty office as all the tech team had already moved out of the office to work from home. Despite the new reality and the challenges of remote working I immediately felt part of a young and dynamic team. Thanks to the communication tools and the support I received from management, my integration within the team was efficient and effective.  I was warmly welcomed by everyone and have quickly developed great professional and personal relationships.  I swiftly realized how important my role was and the value that I could bring to the company.

What were your technology expectations about eCabs?

As a client, by simply interacting with the app I always knew that technology lay at the heart of its customer-centric mentality.  What I perhaps did not appreciate before joining was the level of human-machine interaction that pervades the organisation. Behind the multiple booking channels there is an intricate mosaic of technologies that interact with each other seamlessly, designed to achieve one common goal: that of providing an unparalleled customer experience end to end.  The question remains: how can eCabs harness the industry knowledge and experience garnered over a decade and translate that into an even better customer experience? That is where AI will come in and that, I believe, will be part of my role moving forward. Technology will continue to play a key part in helping the company make sense of the large volume of data in a fast and automated way.

What impressed you mostly at eCabs?

I am mostly impressed by the sheer dedication of all my colleagues and the involvement of everybody on the team to ensure that we deliver a top-quality product, together with the genuine excitement when I can provide new visibility into a trend or KPI which may have been previously less visible. I was also very impressed with the hands-on approach that  management brings to the table, taking such an active role in the day-to-day running of the business.  Having amassed the vast experience over the years in this industry, it really is a big asset we gladly leverage and learn from.

How do you usually approach a new project?

I first make sure to have a thorough understanding of the requirements, suggesting improvements where possible. I then execute the project with an iterative approach, such that stakeholders are asked for feedback along the way in order to fine-tune the requirements where necessary. I like to seek the stakeholders’ direct involvement to instill a sense of ownership, since the ultimate goal is to develop a tool to help them perform their role better or more efficiently, rather than just developing a tool to be used sporadically.

In what ways do you see data analysis determining the future of this industry?

I believe the keyword is efficiency, specifically with on-demand mobility, but also with pre-scheduled trips. Data analysis alone will not provide this increased efficiency, but harnessing the data at our disposal and using the power of AI will lead to the industry being able to have mobility options in the right place, at the right time.  This increased efficiency will undoubtedly serve to improve the customer experience by passing on the cost-savings whilst also keeping waiting times low, thereby increasing the convenience of our service.

eCabs Supporting the Malta Trust Foundation

“The fact that since this pandemic hit Malta three months ago, the Food Aid Depot operating from Floriana has had to open 15 sub-depots across Malta and Gozo says a lot about the current situation and how desperate it has become for many households to simply put food on the table,” says H.E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca whose Malta Trust Foundation is currently busy running the Food Aid Depot.

Operating from the Malta Trust Foundation’s premises in Floriana, the Food Aid Depot is currently delivering 6000 food packages to over 1700 households across Malta and Gozo. 

“These amounts are beyond shocking and it is therefore very important for us all to remain sensitized and aware that for many families, the situation has become very desperate and far from simple. Distribution of all the food packages entails a massive logistics coordination and we feel very lucky to have found the very generous support of eCabs who for the past two months have been assisting us with emergency last minute deliveries of food packages even on weekends,” added H.E. Coleiro Preca who founded the Malta Trust Foundation in 2015 to support and bring real and significant impact in the lives of disadvantaged young people and individuals.

Greta Borg Bezzina, Director of Operations at eCabs mentioned that the company’s mission was always to bring disruption to the mobility sector and the way people commute. 

“However, this disruption is nothing compared to the disruption that this pandemic has dealt to thousands of families and individuals. Therefore, supporting the community at this very fragile time with our infrastructure has now become eCabs’ mission, in line with the supportiveness value the brand embraces and priority. At the same time, we are indebted to the many volunteers who are making the Food Aid Depot a living miracle every day,” added Borg Bezzina.

Although the main depot is located in Floriana, the past 3 months have seen another 15 sub-depots opening in Paola, Bormla, Żabbar, Żejtun, Marsa, Qormi, Siġġiewi, Mosta, Senglea, Għaxaq, Mqabba, Sliema, Floriana, Birkirkara and Gozo with the help of parish priests, local councils and schools.

“The basement of St Aloysius College’s 6th Form for example, is acting as our sub-depot in Birkirkara. Gozo too has many families in need, way beyond the 135 households we are already providing food to. And besides the Floriana depot acting as our main base, the bulk of the food is currently going to our Sliema sub-depot located in St Patrick’s home,” she added. 

“We are also extremely grateful to companies like eCabs, who have chosen to support our cause by applying what they do best to help the community in these very difficult times for everyone. It is admirable how every time we are faced with emergency deliveries, eCabs is always very responsive and makes sure that our food packages reach the families in need. Together, we want to keep working to make sure no one is left behind,” concluded H.E. Coleiro Preca. 

Women in technology spotlight. Kerstin Rizzo, Head of Programmes at eCabs Technology Division

Technology has been a seed in the eCabs culture since the day it moved its first passenger from point to point. That seed today became a thriving branch: a fully-fledged transport technology division, composed of an exceptional team of technologists who are driving the engines for the internationalisation vision of eCabs. Kerstin Rizzo, who joined eCabs’ technology team as Head of Programmes a year and a half ago, explains how fundamental technology has been in the growth achieved by eCabs in the past years and her role as a professional in a tech company.

“I wanted to become a chemist and had focused most of my studies on research. However, I was always interested in tech and I recall myself patiently typing code from various games’ magazines onto our ZX Spectrum a few moons ago”, she smiles.

“Eventually I read Chemistry and Computer Studies at University only to realise there were many tech opportunities available. By then, my choice was an obvious one which I never regretted.”

After 15 years as a systems’ analyst and a software developer, Kerstin spent another 10 years in management, leading several high-profile projects.  She then joined eCabs to realise she had just walked into an immensely disruptive and innovative culture.

“I must admit that I had my reservations and wondered what my interactions would be like in a company which I thought would have a relatively heavier male presence, only to find out that the workplace is also highly populated by fellow ladies. I had joined a company whose priorities are focused on innovation and a relentless pursuit for excellence. The vision is an ambitious one and it’s what makes the environment so inspiring to work in.”

Technology remains fundamental in eCabs’ growth journey and as the organisation keeps investing heavily in this area, it bids to consistently improve its efficiencies in operations, ensuring a seamless service delivery to its clients, whilst bringing about the ability to quickly adapt to unpredictable scenarios such Covid-19.

“Our technology also takes into consideration our growing driver base. Coordination of all the trips, tracking and timely pick-ups all depend on a robust technology infrastructure, also enabling us to lay out our long-term vision for the organisation. eCabs’ primary strategic goal is to internationalise its product portfolio and is in the process of transforming its current technology to a cloud-based solution.

“One of the aspects that makes working at eCabs a unique proposition is the fact that we are a company intent on bringing a drastic shift in the country’s mobility patterns. Mobility remains a big challenge for Malta with a very particular and complex infrastructure, so I am thrilled to be working on such challenges at a company with a vision of bringing a positive change in this aspect.

Being the only mobility company in Malta adopting an all-inclusive multi-booking channel model through the app, phone, web, social media and email, eCabs has made its service accessible to all to ensure mobility for everyone.”  

In a world driven by data, new exciting challenges emerge to harness that power and make good use of it. “As our service grows, our models are increasingly helping us predict traffic patterns and trends. This allows us to keep offering a reliable service within the shortest time possible and at competitive prices. With aspirations of product development into the ‘Last Mile’ delivery segment my role becomes more fun and challenging as I help to translate these innovative business requirements into IT deliverables, which will essentially see customers and their parcels reaching their destinations in a quicker, smoother and more efficient manner.”

Agility in adapting is also an essential attribute as external factors can very quickly change the priorities. Covid-19 is a perfect case in point as Kerstin points out “The surreal scenario that hit us in March 2020 had instantly shifted the priorities. But we are an amazing team and we managed to pull this through together, matching the speed and change in direction”.

Turning back to the topic of women and IT, Kerstin is proud as a woman not only in an IT environment but also at a tech mobility company. But she also quickly admits that STEM subjects remain male dominated and augurs that the future will see more women choosing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 

“The fact that I made it means that change is indeed possible.” she quipped enthusiastically. “But this change needs to start from the very bottom, tackled from as early as kindergarten. There are plenty of innovative educational programs and science challenges that school children should be introduced and exposed to. It would help encourage a larger cohort of young women to take up tech-related jobs by also promoting women in these fields to serve as role models”. 

Kerstin admits that being interested and fascinated by astronomy, her first inspiration as a young girl was Katherine Johnson, the famed mathematician who was instrumental in Nasa’s first manned space flights. Famed by the recent Hollywood movie Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson carved her place in the history books. Kerstin says that there is no reason not to dream big and go for the achievement. “We’re only scratching the surface of possibilities here and that is what I love about this subject and this company. The future is bright – even in the face of the battles we face today.”

eCabs Implements Fully New Mandatory COVID-19 Guidelines

eCabs, Malta’s leading passenger transport provider, has implemented fully the latest set of mandatory Covid-19 guidelines issued by the public health authorities, which were issued for cab and taxi operators over the last days. eCabs has not only ensured it is fully compliant to the published guidelines but has also extended its passenger and driver safety standards to ensure that their health is given the highest level of priority.

The new guidelines include amongst others, mandatory masks to be worn by both drivers and passengers who should not be allowed to board the vehicle unless they are wearing a face mask. To help with this directive, eCabs are now also selling disposable face masks in-vehicle. 

“We’ve been keeping our fingers on the pulse since day one of this public health emergency, following the health authorities’ recommendations and updating our operations accordingly. We have also sought international best practice in our sector and acted on our own initiative to strengthen our safety measures, such as the installation of a dividing perspex screen between driver and passenger.  These matters are taken very seriously, not only for the safety of our passengers but also for that of our own drivers,” said Simon Debono Chief Marketing Officer of eCabs.

“I believe it is important for everyone to work together to stem this situation and do their part so that normality returns as soon as possible, whatever shape that may be. I’d like to urge our passengers to collaborate with us in respecting these measures in everyone’s interest,” he added, mentioning that eCabs has also been encouraging payments to be effected through credit cards in the App to reduce cash handling.

A vehicle ventilation policy has also been adopted in response to these new guidelines and with a view of the rising temperatures. These include the air recycler to be turned off at all times and  windows to be left ajar for better ventilation. The Air Conditioning filters are also being treated with viral disinfectant as part of a wider, daily in-vehicle sanitisation procedure which has been in effect since the first week of March. This includes extensive steaming and cleaning using the same disinfectant which possesses long residual action.

“Our Covid policies are kept consistently updated on our website. Anyone riding with us can be sure that we are doing our best and going beyond what is mandatory. We are doing our utmost to make sure that in these challenging times everyone can get from point to point with peace of mind and in the safest manner possible”, concluded Simon Debono.

 

eCabs supports MOAS and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers

2500 meters of elastic, 500 meters of fabric and 140 spools of thread are being delivered by eCabs to 130 volunteers around Malta. These volunteers have recently responded to a call by humanitarian organisation MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS), to produce a total of 6,500 face masks for refugees and asylum seekers in Malta, to aid these vulnerable communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 MOAS, who is also providing all the material needed, has found the support of eCabs in handling the logistical aspect of the project. A total of 260 trips covers the delivery of all the needed material to the volunteers who will sew the masks together, as well as the collection and redistribution of the freshly made masks back to MOAS and AWAS. All masks are destined for the asylum seekers and refugees currently resident in the centres, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and protect the beneficiaries and wider community. 

Christina Lejman, Head of Fundraising and Project Management of MOAS said “I honestly cannot thank eCabs enough for this who stepped in without hesitation. We are incredibly grateful for this service as it will make a huge difference to the project. People have been so kind in donating their time and efforts, so to be able to get them the items quickly and reward their generosity is really amazing.”

“Although homemade masks are not an alternative to medical grade PPE, they have been shown to slow spread in high density residential communities. Following the call, over 130 people offered to volunteer, committing to produce at least 50 masks each over the coming weeks,” added Ms Lejman.

Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs added, “Teamwork, empathy and community spirit should prevail in times like these. We all need to make an effort to continue supporting these types of causes even when normality returns. A tip of the hat to MOAS for supporting the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers, and for all the amazing volunteers who are contributing their time and effort to this worthy cause. It was only natural for us to pitch in to this project and contribute to its eventual success, in the same way that we are contributing to other community support causes”.

eCabs launches free Accessible Mobility Service

Once again eCabs is leading the way in setting the standard for passenger mobility in Malta through its investment in the development of a set of measures aimed at opening up its full suite of services to persons who require accessible mobility service. In line with its strategic commitment to offer affordable mobility to everyone, eCabs has expanded its fleet to include a fully-equipped van with a motorised lift, capable to serve both wheelchair users and other passengers accompanying them. 

Moreover, in its efforts to support the community in the Covid-19 challenge, eCabs has also decided to offer, for the coming weeks, this service free of charge to all persons certified by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) as requiring accessible transport, who would need to visit a hospital or a clinic, be they public or private.

Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs, explained the rationale for this decision stating that “our appeal to the public is to stay home and keep safe. However, there are persons  who still need to visit a hospital, a clinic or a health centre. Hence we decided to cover the full cost of the service for persons with disability needing to go to their health appointments.”

The launch of this new service is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between eCabs and the CRPD which made eCabs the first passenger transport company in Malta to embark on a ‘Accessible Mobility Agenda’ to offer persons who require it, the possibility of  accessible transport and ease of use of its services.

In fact, to ensure the company fully meets the needs of persons with restricted mobility, a full team of eCabs drivers have recently undergone Disability Equality Training – specifically delivered by the CRPD to enable them to support their passengers’ requirements in the most professional way possible.

“We want to extend equality to our domain of expertise: mobility. We believe that our service can serve as an equaliser for persons with disabilities who require accessible transport. As leaders in the mobility sector we want to ensure that our business is an all-inclusive one,  in line with the philosophy promoted by CRPD with whom eCabs has been collaborating at length to ensure this service meets all the necessary requirements”, said Simon Debono, Chief Officer for Marketing and Business Development at eCabs.

The provision of the service is subject to a series of terms and conditions, primarily related to the observation of social distancing restrictions in force at the moment. Interested parties may request more information about this new service or book this van by contacting eCabs’ Contact Centre on 21 38 38 38.

eCabs Supports Victory Kitchen

The moment Rafel Sammut floated his ‘Victory Kitchen’ vision to eCabs, was the instant that his delivery headache was lifted. “The idea of helping others in need totally resonated with our values. We loved Rafel’s vision, especially the idea of creating something that is not just for the moment this crisis has led us to deal with, but a project for the long term. Chapeau to Rafel for coming up with the initiative. He is doing all the hard work, so helping him get the last part of the process sorted was an obvious and very quick decision for us”, said Simon Debono, Chief Marketing Officer at eCabs.       .

“I must admit that this project would have been more difficult to take off without the support of eCabs who have committed themselves whole-heartedly to it and who have now mobilised a good number of drivers who are carrying out all the food deliveries for us in a very timely and organised manner,” said Rafel.

The initiative kicked off with delivering food to a family of six and was meant to start feeding another five families every week. Things however, quickly picked up and by the first week, eCabs had already delivered 65 meals. To date, 360 meals have been delivered to around 75 families.

                

eCabs’ support to the Victory Kitchen project builds on its recently launched “eCabs Delivers” delivery service created purposely for merchants to assist them in delivering their goods to customers at reasonable and market realistic rates.

“The new service is being run in line with eCabs’ newly adopted standard operating procedures that ensure      deliveries are made with vehicles that are constantly sanitized using hospital-grade viral disinfectant. We are glad about this added opportunity to apply our high standards in hygiene in favour of this worthy cause,” added Simon Debono.

eCabs assists courier companies with last mile deliveries

Over the past two weeks, eCabs, the leading passenger transport services provider in Malta, has opened up its infrastructure, logistical and operational capacity to enable a wide range of local and international courier companies to be able to complete thousands of deliveries to their final destination through its own network. 

In fact, eCabs embarked on an exciting venture to transform part of its logistics headquarters into a multi-user facility through which thousands of Christmas parcels and corporate gifts were delivered to their final destination using the transport fulfilment capabilities of the eCabs platform.

The eCabs’ facility became a veritable logistical hub where thousands of packages were being received, stacked and organised, sorted on a 24×7 basis, with a tech-driven framework channeling the last mile distribution to the intended recipients.

On peak days, the company would manage to turn around hundreds of packages every hour, relying on its unique blend of logistical expertise, infrastructrure, fleet flexibility and technology adaptation across the entire supply chain. At the core of this complex operation was the leverage of the Company’s outstanding IT infrastructure which enables the optimisation of its logistical operations – a vital requirement for last mile deliveries.

The technology – entirely developed by Cuorium Ltd, a subsidiary of eCabs – is now undergoing further development to be transformed into a cloud-based framework open for internationalisation of the operations.

“We have been pursuing our last mile plans for the last year and we wanted to use this opportunity to test it and assess the level of optimisation we have reached. In reality, there is never a better time to test our logistical capabilities than this specific time of the year.

The heightened seasonal activity creates increasing demands on our infrastructural capabilities hence pushing us to deliver more efficiently and with smaller margins of errors” said Greta Borg Bezzina, the Director of Operations of eCabs.

Simon Debono, Chief Officer responsible for Marketing and Business Development at eCabs linked the successful performance of the Company to its passion and commitment for the transformation of the transportation industry. 

He stressed that “the results we achieved in our beta operation in the last mile delivery segment clearly reflects the capabilities and the potential of our operations. In 2020 we shall be seeking to extend the service levels of our operation transforming ourselves into the transport provider of choice for passengers and last mile deliveries alike.”

“We shall remain focused on exceeding expectations and passing on our efficiencies onto the customers by keeping prices as low as possible. This is our aspiration and we shall deliver it with an unparalleled passion for excellence,” concluded Mr Debono.

‘People are the most important element at eCabs’

Few might know that 20 per cent of the 500 plus drivers employed by eCabs are women, that the company employs over 25 nationalities, has a team of in-house technologists and a fully-fledged contact centre handling hundreds of customer interactions on a 24×7 basis.

“People are the most important element at eCabs; in everything we do we seek a professional attitude and a consistent passion for the job to keep us at the forefront,” says Marvin Cuschieri, chief officer human capital and corporate services at eCabs.

Mr Cuschieri is a senior figure in the field of human resources, having occupied the role of CEO of the Foundation for Human Resources Development for six years. Now, as a member of eCabs’ top management team, Mr Cuschieri’s role is that of leading the human capital and corporate relations functions, covering the full spectrum of duties from manpower planning, administration, capacity building, systems implementation, business processes reengineering and facilities management.

“I say ‘recently appointed’ but really and truly, ‘recent’ is now already almost a year. I must admit, it took a bit of thinking to join eCabs. Transport and logistics was at the other end of the spectrum in my career and development pathway but once I was exposed to the dynamic and technologically disruptive nature of the company and learned how the founders were devising to internationalise the business, I decided to embark on this journey and be part of this success in the making.”

He explains that eCabs is far from just a conventional cab operator. The company is considered as Malta’s largest and leading private transportation company which, since its inception, has sought to revolutionise passenger mobility and how people commute on this highly congested island.

Over the last few months eCabs has ventured into events, expanded its corporate accounts portfolio and is now offering the full spectrum of people transport. It has also set up its own captive logistics software company, Cuorium. Adopting cutting-edge geo-spatial technologies, flirting with the application of AI in its operations and venturing into the uncharted territory of consuming big data to enhance its trip optimisation capabilities.

“HR is the only function that touches every single part of the organisation in all its aspects – from the drivers whom I consider as the front line of our organisation, to the contact centre agents; from the logistics controllers to the back office team, support service providers and the fully dedicated team of developers building and developing our unique ICT systems and infrastructure.”

Over the past 12 months, a lot has already happened within the company’s human capital structures.

“And so many more changes are coming up,” he adds. “Currently we are taking the company through a meticulous restructuring process at all levels. Perhaps one very important change is the way we are running our human capital. Being a strong believer in delegation, one of the very first steps was to build a stronger middle management structure that can bridge the gap between the vision and the front-line, while putting a stronger spotlight on the important aspects of the HR support services, so vital for such a company employing such a large workforce.”

He says the company is also developing a more holistic way of training its drivers and contact centre agents with better induction processes and feedback channels. Their logistic coordinators have been given the opportunity to follow academic diplomas in management, while the developers get the space they need to keep abreast with the dynamics of their specialisations.

“For instance, one of our developers was recently at the DevFest Berlin, an annual community-driven developer event organised by the 3 GDGs where he had the opportunity to attend a number of sessions across multiple product areas, all-day hack-a-thons, code labs, and more. The holistic and most unifying value that we are trying to instil is that all employees belong to a common vision and hence why they understand the importance of being professional in everything that they do and not to just meet customers’ expectations, but constantly exceed them. Quality is key for us, while passenger safety is paramount.”

He points out that the company managed to build a strong recruitment pipeline by taking an innovative approach towards recruitment and striving to build models which can fit with those of the workforce.  Efforts have been made to reduce turnover by for instance allowing more flexibility, rewarding positive actions, creating a stronger team engagement, and instilling a strong sense of belonging.

“The fact that the company operates on a 24/7 basis means it is in a position to give employees the flexibility they need, something other companies cannot offer,” he adds.

“What I love about HR? Seeing people grow within their roles, teams of people pulling the same rope and coming up with their own initiatives, nourishing a positive work culture, having a diverse company not only in gender and age but also in terms of nationality.”

We’ve got the power.

How eCabs’ empowered technologists are engineering the growth of the company.

Very few people know that behind eCabs’ complex operation there is a fully-dedicated team of developers and in-house technologists, building and developing the company’s international-grade IT systems.

“When I came to join, I did not even know that the company had its very own team of developers who were running the eCabs App. Honestly, I was blown away when I was introduced to the whole set-up and was immediately offered the first project to work on the drivers’ app,” said Mark Spiteri, one of eCabs’ in-house developers.

“I wanted a new challenge and eCabs clearly want to go places with their technological efforts. More importantly, I realised the dynamic and technologically disruptive nature of eCabs in which I saw a company that was committed to harness the power of technology and was willing to invest in order to claim its rightful leadership position.

“Looking back, it has been an amazing journey. But what’s more amazing is the fact that so much more is coming up our way as this sector is going through many important changes,” said Mr Spiteri.

Luca di Michele, who heads eCabs’ team of developers, explained how, this year, eCabs founded Cuorium as its very own captive logistics software set-up which is now tasked with not only developing all the technology behind eCabs’ new IT infrastructure but to transform this into a platform to enable the company to take its operations into the international market.

“Although owned by eCabs, Cuorium operates on the same engaging lines as those of a start-up. The structure is flat and communication between us and management is extremely dynamic. We source ideas, explore them together within the team, shape them in our programmatic plans, put them forward to the CTO and CEO and we evaluate them together until the way forward is identified,” said Mr Di Michele.

“Up to two years ago, eCabs was running on a system built on outsourced software which served its purpose to enable the growth of the company but was increasingly limited to match the growing needs of the operation. In parallel, the company’s strategy was evolving at a very fast pace in which technology was the centrepiece enabling its execution,” added Mr Di Michele.

“This is what led us to rebuild our platforms, with the medium-term objective of opening up the platform to other operators and the international market.

“We, therefore, set out on a long-term plan where the first target was to build our own system to fit the evolving operations framework of the company. Subsequently, we redesigned the whole interface, gave a new look that reflected the company’s evolved identity and plugged the system on to the new platform. The app’s success was instant.

“In the first four months of this year, 26,000 new users downloaded the app which eventually saw over 80,000 booked rides in the same period. To date, there have been almost 215,000 downloads of our eCabs App,” he added.

Today, eCabs’ mobile app is a recognised best practice and is highly rated for offering a very straightforward method of booking a ride within a few seconds.

The app runs in parallel with three other methods of booking namely, phone bookings, e-mail bookings and web bookings, with new tech-based booking channels on the horizon in 2020. All these channels are operated from a fully-fledged contact centre handling hundreds of customer interactions on a 24/7 basis.

“We have been watching the technology behind our app revolutionise passenger mobility and how people decide and choose to commute. The app is also acting as a great tool that is helping us collect data to be able to improve our service by aligning our operations to the changing mobility trends. Having our own team of developers is now allowing the company to focus on solutions that cater for Malta’s unique needs,” added Mr Spiteri.

“One of the main features of the eCabs’ App is that once you book a cab, you can monitor in real time the location of the cab. Another smart feature is that when you pre-book a cab through the app, customers enjoy highly-beneficial rates.

“Our technology, together with our contact centre, are the heart of the company. Now that the app and our platforms have been completed, we are ready to move on to the next level – that of fuelling innovation across all our operations.”

“Developers are usually the ones working behind the scenes but at eCabs, I am proud to say that we constantly play a central role not only in the company’s IT evolution but also as protagonists in its commercial way forward,” the duo remarked.

Both are now already looking at some very exciting projects for next year.

“Being part of the eCabs’ tech team is a truly exciting place to be at this point in time. We are busy improving our tracking system whereby passengers will also be able to share their vehicle’s tracking with others. We are working on a gamified loyalty scheme proposition to reward our customers more. We are adopting cutting-edge geo-spatial technologies, flirting with the application of AI and looking at better ways how to consume our huge data bank to enhance trip optimisation capabilities.

“We’re on the right track. This year, we managed to bring down the booking processing time from six seconds to one second and we want to review the post-booking phase in a more transparent way that reassures customers that their cab is actually on its way and at the best price possible. We could easily say that technology is enabling us to commit a much stronger value proposition to customers even on a day-to-day basis,” they added.

What’s most exciting for the future of the tech team of eCabs? “Invariably, reckoning that our platform will now be exposed on the international market is a unique experience for all of us and an opportunity of a lifetime,” Mr Spiteri and Mr Di Michele concluded.