Indonesian banks must digitize their services to better cater to technology-savvy millennials, marketing consulting firm Solidiance said in a recent report. (Reuters Photo/Albert Gea)

Go Mobile or Bust: Google Schools Firms on the Business Benefits of Apps

MARCH 05, 2015

Jakarta. Global technology giant Google is calling on Indonesian businesses to adopt a mobile platform as a way to get ahead of the competition amid rapid growth of smartphone users in urban areas.

Smartphone penetration in archipelago doubled to 28 percent of the country urban population last year, from 14 percent in 2013, according to a survey by Google in conjunction with market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres.

Indonesia is a home to some 250 million people, with 50 percent living in cities, the latest census by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) shows.

The survey, which interviewed 3,000 people between January and March last year, also reported that 62 percent of the respondents use smartphones to access the Internet.

"Smartphone adoption in Indonesia may not be as high as its regional counterparts, like Singapore at 85 percent, but it's has a really high growth rate," Ricky Tjok, account strategist of Google Indonesia, told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday.

"Almost all of the first-time Internet users in Indonesia go online with their mobile phones, not laptops or personal computers ... [so] it's important for businesses to create sites that are easy to view [on a smartphone]," he added.

Dannis Muhammad, head of marketing at online travel agent Traveloka, shared Ricky's view, noting that the company has seen a faster growth in traffic from its mobile applications than that of its website.

"With mobile [devices], customers can access information on the go, especially nowadays when a smartphone is a very personal device. You always have it with you," Dannis said.

The trend of mobile applications is not exclusive to online businesses, reaching companies that traditionally have little exposure online, such as insurance firms.

According to insurer Axa Indonesia's chief marketing officer Emmanuel Wehry, mobile-supported sites are an important trend the company has kept track of.

"The growth of mobile [applications] is very strong and it's a great tool for our sales force," Wehry added.

Google's findings on the country's smartphone habits echoed the results of a separate study by global consulting firm Bain released last month, which emphasized the high use of mobile banking apps among Indonesians. According to the survey, the archipelago has the highest mobile banking activity among 20 countries surveyed in the report, including Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.