Yandex opened its largest international office in Belgrade
Yandex is an innovative IT company that has evolved over the past 25 years into a global leader in technology, which today offers more than 90 advanced services.
Yandex has invested heavily in the areas of machine learning and natural language processing – it has its own AI-powered voice assistant Alice. Also, computer visionspeech recognition, speech generation, machine translation are just some of the many other Yandex solutions the company provides.
Yandex services are available to users worldwide. In addition to offices in Serbia, Yandex has over thirty offices around the world, including countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and beyond.
„The team of experts at Yandex has many scientific disciplines, from mathematics, data analysis, programming, linguistics and many others. In addition to working on products and technologies at Yandex, some of our experts teach, give lectures and train students and young professionals. The company is considered the number one IT brand in Russia and is known for its educational programs, while last year alone more than 6 million people participated in the non-profit educational projects we implemented. We have a large number of practically oriented master’s programs at leading IT universities and we support ambitious information scientists and artificial intelligence experts through awards and scholarships”, said Branka Velicković, human resources director of Yandex Serbia.
Yandex has been working in Serbia since 2018, and recently the first office was opened in the very center of Belgrade, which serves as a center for research and development of technologies. “The office in Serbia is our largest international office. It has a diverse team of international talent. We actively integrate our employees into Serbian culture through cultural events, gastronomic experiences and free Serbian language courses. added Veličković.
Yandex aims to improve the entire digital environment in the countries where it operates. By expanding its presence in Serbia, Yandex wants to contribute to the development of the Serbian local IT community, helping young IT professionals gain an edge in the IT world.
Yandex has already launched educational initiatives in Serbia, in cooperation with institutions and faculties such as FON and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. Yandex actively cooperates with the local IT community, through the organization of major events. In July, the HighLoad++ Serbia conference for developers of high-load systems was organized, as well as a science-popular event in September called Yandex Smart Party, on the topic of generative artificial intelligence.
The company’s products and services are based on complex, unique technologies that are not easily replicated. This is what allows Yandex to do things that once seemed impossible. One of the most significant achievements is the Yandex Search search engine, which is among the top 5 search engines in the world.
Yandex services use generative neural networks. Virtually all of Yandex’s services use machine learning – including ranking search results, displaying online ads, and performing translations. In 2009, Yandex developed and implemented its own machine learning method – MatrixNet.
„Yandex creates services for people. Services that change life as we know it and help people achieve their goals. Satisfied and happy users are key for us. Among other things, this means that it is more important how useful and easy to use the product is than how much money we can make from it“, said Aleksandar Krajnov, director of artificial intelligence development at Yandex.
Thanks to speech recognition technology, users can verbally communicate with the Yandex street navigation app instead of typing in addresses manually. Computer vision methods are also used to search for similar images.
„One of our latest achievements and future focus is the development of generative artificial intelligence. We have our own neural network – YandexGPT. Trained on Yandex supercomputers, the most powerful machines of their kind in Russia and Eastern Europe. The basic Yandex model outperforms ChatGPT 3.5 in Russian responses, and in 10 percent of cases it gives a better response than ChatGPT4. And the Llama YandexGPT neural network is already outperforming even English queries,” Krajnov added.
Yandex has become the first company in the world to integrate a large language model of the next generation into its virtual assistant Alice. With the support of the YandexGPT neural network, Alisa can generate text and ideas for thinking almost as efficiently as an expert. Users can access the new feature through the Yandex app, Yandex browser, Yandex Station smart speakers and smart TVs with the Alice feature.
In the past year, Yandex has invested more than 100 million euros in the development of generative neural networks. Yandex will continue to develop neural networks and integrate them into all its services for a better user experience. Recently, the company introduced a new language model, YandexGPT 2, which will be integrated into the search.
Yandex Go celebrated its fifth anniversary in Serbia this year and is now an application that offers easy access to driving and city deliveries and is known to almost everyone. Yandex Go is now available in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kragujevac. It does not have its own drivers and cars, but cooperates with local transport companies as partners.
„Our goal in Belgrade is to reduce the average car arrival time to 3 minutes. Many people still perceive taxis as transportation for special occasions. We believe that it can be a complementary element to the public transport system that helps citizens to travel every day. We have received examples from our international experience that people prefer taxis to their own cars, because it is easier to avoid traffic jams. The key to this transformation is the accessibility and reliability of the service – when a user can easily get a ride in 3 minutes at a reasonable price. In Belgrade, this can only be possible if there are more drivers on the market,” said Andrej Sibirev, Strategy Director of Yandex Go in Serbia.
For now, the total number of trips by all participants is estimated at around 400,000 per week in Belgrade. Based on the company’s international experience, the market has the potential to generate three times more. However, the biggest obstacle to further growth is the limited number of licenses, which is around 6,000 in Belgrade for the city’s 1.5 million inhabitants.
„As for the Serbian market, we see great demand for technology services such as Yandex Go. The number of trips ordered in the service has doubled this year and continues to grow due to the development of the local market and urban environment. Thanks to technologies, the average income of drivers has also increased by 30 percent during this year,” added Đorđe Đaković, general manager of Yandex Go in Serbia.
In addition to ride hailing, Yandex Go also offers a delivery option that people can use to send things to someone by courier, such as a gift to a friend or things they forgot.
“Yandex Delivery is a platform for customers that connects them with couriers, while for businesses we manage and organize courier services. The service is available to users through the Yandex Go application, through which most of us also have the option of ordering a taxi ride. And for companies, our organization and management capacity can be requested through integration via API, or via a web account where direct entry of addresses for download and delivery or mass uploading of Excel data is available. said Branimir Đurović, general manager of Yandex Delivery in Serbia.
Yandex Delivery enables a clear visual tracking of the order, providing the estimated time of arrival, and thus a form of control for the user to be ready for the delivery of the order. This means that the percentage of successful deliveries in the first attempt is greater than 90 percent, which is significantly higher than the current market.
„We believe there is a relevant space to improve the customer experience in the delivery service industry, and the same can be done through the more advanced technology we own: our own maps, routing algorithms and the entire ecosystem of interfaces – applications for couriers and consumers, easy integration for entrepreneurs via API -i or module. All of this allows us to optimize costs, and thus enable accessibility, provide transparency and clarity about where a shipment is and when it can be expected, and finally, speed”, Đurović added.
Speaking about the company’s plans, Đurović added that the services are already offered in Belgrade, and soon in Novi Sad, and that by the end of the year they are striving to increase coverage in the other largest consumer centers in Serbia: Niš, Subotica, Kragujevac.