ola, uber

While homegrown Ola is already ahead of the American cab aggregator Uber in India, it is now stepping up its efforts to make its offering even more attractive for both customers and drivers alike. Thus, it has today unveiled a series of new technology solutions to catapult the user experience to new heights.

After exit from China, Uber has pumping more money and efforts into its India(and SEA) operations, but Ola is not ready to let them eat into their market share. It is now using maps, geo-location tagging and vast amounts of customer data to build and deploy solution in areas such as navigation and pickup/drop.

Using the same will allow partner drivers to more precisely locate their riders, but Ola is now going a step further to introduce new innovations in the form of HotSpots. This will be a two-way solution to the location problem that instead of providing a precise location will provide the exact location of the user booking a cab. How you ask?

The company is now looking at crowded locations such as tech parks, housing colonies, malls, etc. as a source of a large number of cab boookings on the daily. Thus, these location will be marked as HotSpots and customers while booking a cab will be able to tag these locations at their pick-up point. The driver, in return, will be able to see your location as one of these landmarks, minimizing confusion and directing him towards the correct location.

Indian roads and locations are different compared to other geographies and it needs a different treatment. HotSpots is one innovative feature that will reduce waiting time for passengers and drivers and improve the overall user experience,

Ola co-founder and CTO Ankit Bhati told TOI.

But, will they really improve navigation, pickup/drop for the customers and drivers? I highly doubt that, because I think there’s a basic flaw in this model. But, I’m still don’t know how exactly will Ola tag a ‘popular’ location and then instruct drivers to navigate to that. So just hear me out.

Let’s take the example of me being at a tagged ‘HotSpot’ mall and I book an Ola and exit the place via one of the three entry points of the place. Then, how will the driver know my exact location(the exit point) at the HotSpot and navigate to that to pick me up. There is sure to be some back and forth calls to know the exact location. We’ve mailed Ola for an in-depth explanation of the feature and will update you once we receive a reply.

Now, let’s talk about the remaining two features that are also being introduced to the mix today. Another feature, which actually seems helpful, is that Ola will use past rides as a reference to triangulate your historic pick-up point vis-a-vis booking point. This is where the vast amount of user data comes into play, and will help better pickup and drops in the future.

Years of operations have helped us collect lot of data about a user’s booking and boarding pattern. This feature helps us analyze and use that data to provide an advanced boarding experience to our high-frequency users,

said Ola in a statement.

The third feature is related to the (possibly!?) incompetant HotSpot feature discussed above. Called ‘Share Directions’, the feature allows you to to feed in the landmark closest to their pick-up location to help drivers navigate to your location with respect to that. This will avoid delays in pickups, which happen due to the drivers finding your location navigating through many lanes and bylanes of the Indian neighbourhoods.

Ola is currently amid an intense battle with the $63 billion American ride-hailing giant Uber, who’s now eyeing an even bigger piece of the Indian pie. To compete with the same, the company has recently launched new categories, slashed prices, sacked employees(including those of TaxiForSure) and partnered with Mahindra to create significant entrepreneurial opportunities for drivers on its platform. The collaboration is mainly focused towards empowering driver partners to invest in a car, to purchase one at a highly affordable price, and at upto zero down payment.

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