Asian real estate technology group Juwai IQI has made Kuala Lumpur its headquarters for global R&D and plans to build a data and tech team locally. The team is expected to eventually have more than 1,000 employees. Malaysia was chosen as the R&D headquarters due to its larger workforce compared to Singapore, universal English proficiency and "a far-sighted outlook on its digitalisation trajectory", Juwai IQI co-founder and group executive chairman Georg Chmiel (pictured left) said.
"Malaysia has what it takes to be the digital heart of ASEAN. There are 400 million mobile users in ASEAN, which is important because mobile is the platform on which we are building the advanced services that will power our future growth. The United States has just 276 million mobile users," Chmiel explained.
The company plans to help lead the next wave of digital transformation, starting first in Malaysia and expanding to other ASEAN countries and the rest of Asia. According to Chmiel, ASEAN and China have significant penetration in terms of super apps such as WeChat, Gojek and Grab. He added that Asia is the new new global economic center of gravity and home to more high net worth individuals than any other region in the world. All these factors therefore make Malaysia "the perfect environment" for building a technology and R&D team.
The team currently has another office in Shanghai which will remain its base for R&D in Greater China. With both office locations, co-founder and group CEO Kashif Ansari (pictured right) said the company has its roots "firmly embedded in two of the deepest pools of technology talent in the world". Following the pandemic outbreak, Juwai IQI thought carefully about where to build its data team and eventually decided on Millerz Square at Old Klang Road.
"Exsim Tower is the perfect location to build a large technology team. It’s gives our team easy access to the entire metro area and makes it convenient for them to balance lifestyle with work. We hope to hire the very best technology workers we can," he said. The company plans to move in during the first quarter of next year.
Juwai IQI is said to have tripled the size of its agent force to more than 15,000 in 2020 as well as sold and rented properties worth US$1 billion last year. It offers marketers an end-to-end marketing and sales solution that integrates its app, its IQI global network of agents, and its property marketplaces. Juwai IQI is present in 15 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Hong Kong.
While Chmiel did not state a specific number of employees it is planning to hire by December 2021, he said it expects to "ramp up relatively quickly" and the pace will increase once it moves into its new office space.
Meanwhile on the marketing front, the team has 50 employees focused on promotion of the brand, group lead generation initiatives and online campaigns. Additionally, employees are also provided with end-to-end digital marketing tools via its app to market individual properties and run their own marketing campaigns on juwai.com, juwai.asia, iqiglobal.com, the Juwai IQI social media channels and other external marketing channels, Chmiel said.
"The pandemic accelerated our shift to digital marketing. We were lucky in that we spent most of 2019 building out new digital marketing capabilities, so when the pandemic hit, we could move quickly," he said. According to Chmiel, the pandemic also showed how important it was to empower agents with distributed marketing and productivity tools.
"While our central marketing team delivers results, no single team can be omniscient. Our platform aims to empower agents so they can take the best advantage of the opportunities that they see individually," he added.
Based on the new projection made by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the digital economy’s contribution to the country’s GDP is expected to reach 22.6% by 2025, creating 500,000 new jobs. Additionally, the World Bank has forecasted a 6.7% economic growth for 2021.
Muhyiddin recently unveiled the MyDigital initiative which will be carried out via the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint. The blueprint includes three phases and is expected to be completed by 2030. The government also plans to help 875,000 micro enterprises and SMEs to kickstart their digital journey via eCommerce, The Edge reported. According to Muhyiddin, the initiative seeks to draw RM70 billion in domestic and international digital investments by 2025.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) welcomed Juwai IQI's plans and CEO Surina Shukri said this is "a clear endorsement of investors’ confidence in Malaysia". "The company’s commitment to create more than 1,000 new job opportunities - in areas ranging from platform and mobile app developers and data scientists to social network community specialists - is testament to the high level of digital skills and capabilities of our Malaysian workforce," she said. Surina added that MDEC is anticipating increased momentum from its efforts to land quality digital foreign direct investments which will support MyDigital.
To date, Malaysia has attrated RM345 billion investments, creating close to 185,000 jobs, MDEC's chairman Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff said. The investments are mainly from MNCs that have started their global business services and regional operations in Malaysia.
"This achievement showcases Malaysia’s solid fundamentals which includes a diversified multilingual and digitally-skilled talent pool, ready infrastructure, as well as a mature ecosystem for the digital economy to thrive," he added.
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