Inside Google Cloud

Reaching for the sky: Japanese businesses embrace Google Cloud for digital transformation

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Since our last Google Cloud Next Tokyo in September 2018, we’ve been busy growing and expanding our commitment to Japanese businesses. In May, we launched our Osaka cloud region, complementing our existing cloud region in Tokyo, and were recognized as a Leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Japan. We’ve also invested in a new undersea cable system that will connect Japan to Guam and Australia. When it goes online in early 2020, it will be the third cable system that Google has invested in to land in Japan. It’s a key part of our cloud network in Asia Pacific, helping to bring greater agility, flexible capacity and better performance to our customers throughout the region.

Demand from Japanese customers who want to build and scale their business on Google Cloud continues to grow, and we’ve been thrilled to welcome new customers in the past year like Asahi Group Holdings, Kyocera Communications Systems, SHARP, and Yamaha. Since launching our Advanced Solutions Lab (ASL) in 2018 we've been working side-by-side with leaders from many different industries to develop AI-powered solutions to solve business challenges, and we’ve heard from customers like Fast Retailing who’ve already benefited from ASL immersive training. And to better support all our Japanese customers, earlier this year we launched 24x7 Japanese language support across all channels for Platinum and Enterprise customers.

We continue to be inspired by all the ways Japanese businesses are transforming in the cloud, and are thrilled to welcome so many as we kick off Google Cloud Next in Tokyo this week. Here are just a few of their stories. 

Fast connections: East Japan Railway evolves and grows its services with Google Cloud
Serving 17.9 million passengers on 12,000 trains each day, East Japan Railway Company, or JR-EAST, is the nation’s largest railway company. It is also essential to one’s daily life in Japan, beyond transportation.

Safety is a top priority for JR-EAST’s management and a key tenet of its corporate vision “Move UP 2027.” In addition to pursuing forward-looking projects like mobility as a service (MaaS), JR-EAST has started working with Google Cloud to deliver the highest possible level of transportation safety and deepen trust with customers and the community.

“It’s been one year since we launched our corporate vision ‘Move UP 2027’ with an aim to create ‘customer-centric values and services’. This vision promotes future-oriented programs including MaaS and places ‘ultimate safety’ as the top priority,” said Masaki Ogata, Vice Chairman, JR-EAST. “For example, we will be working with Google Cloud to revolutionize maintenance works of lines and rails. This collaboration with Google Cloud will be a trigger to innovate maintenance operations within our railway business and also to spur innovation essential to our non-rail business.”

Applying smart analytics and AI for better customer experiences and business outcomes
The opportunity to unlock transformative business insights continues to be a driver for cloud adoption in Japan. In fact, we’ve seen a number of Japanese businesses turn to Google Cloud for their data management and smart analytics needs.

Serving millions of customers with services like housing information, hotel and restaurant reservations, and job listings, scalability has been a huge priority for Recruit Group. With Google Cloud, it has the improved management and scalability it was looking for.

“Volume and complexity of data processing in our services is increasingly challenging,” says Sogo Ohishi Recruit Technologies Co., Ltd. Corporate Executive Officer who leads infrastructure management across the groups’ multiple products. “We’re very satisfied with the high stability and performance improvement powered by GCP. I’m particularly excited about the recent migration of our EOSL (End of Service Life) Hadoop cluster to BigQuery and Cloud Dataproc, which enabled us to create an integrated data mart 14 times faster. In an era of ever growing data, we look forward to continue improving agility, scalability and operational efficiency by leveraging robust cloud native architecture. “

Organizations that have robust data processing and analysis are frequently the most successful in applying AI and machine learning (ML). Accordingly, we’ve seen growth in the number of Japanese enterprises adopting AI to transform their business.

One of Japan’s most popular mobile-based internet service companies, DeNA is using ML to improve the new player onboarding experience for its game “Gyakuten Othellonia”. With AI, the game provides new players recommendations for in-game strategies and offers scenarios for new players to practice and gain experience before challenging skilled players. As a result, it saw an increase in new player activity and the win rate for beginners grew by five percentage points. Plus, players that used the new recommendation service have shown higher lifetime value (LTV) than those that did not, which has the potential to positively impact the game’s bottom line.

“We view AI as an important element of transforming the gaming experience on our platform,” says Kenshin Yamada, Director of AI Dept, DeNA Co., Ltd. “By collaborating with Google Cloud, we have been able to leverage Google’s expertise in AI as well as building and serving different components in our game. We are also able to leverage Google Cloud’s open and serverless technologies to host our AI models without worrying about scalability of infrastructure or portability of code.”

For Zozo, a popular Japanese fashion retailer, the product search capabilities in its website “ZOZOTOWN” are essential to meeting customer needs. To provide the best search experience possible, it relies on ML. But managing and optimizing its ML model requires frequent updates with new data.To speed up model training, Zozo turned to Cloud TPUs.  

“Visual search for apparel is very important for our users, and training useful machine learning models that produce accurate search results is critical for our user experience,” says Imamura Masayuki, VPoE of ZOZO Technologies, Inc. “With Cloud TPU, we are now able to train our TensorFlow models 55x faster, going from one week to under three hours of training time. The combination of running TensorFlow on Google Cloud using Cloud TPU has helped us consistently test, improve, and serve better models that delight our users.”

One of Japan’s leading insurance companies, Sompo Holdings is using AI to speed up the estimation of insurance premiums for customers. 

“The ability to provide an instant quote is very important for a good customer experience,” says Koichi Narasaki, Group Chief Digital Officer, Executive Vice President and Executive Officer, Sompo Holdings, Inc. “With the help of the Google Cloud Vision API, we are able to use a smart device to extract information from insurance documents and feed the data into our premium calculators in real-time. This process lets users receive instant premium estimates.”

Looking ahead
These are just a few of the many stories we’ve heard from customers in Japan and Asia Pacific as they embrace the cloud to modernize their infrastructure, develop new applications, manage their data, gain insights through smart analytics, and increase productivity and collaboration.  In addition to the stories here, we’ve also heard from customers like NTT Communications and ANZ Bank that are using Anthos, our new hybrid and multi-cloud platform, to accelerate application development and take advantage of transformational technologies like containers, service mesh and microservices. You can learn more on that in this blog post.

We look forward to continuing to work with more and more businesses wherever they may be to put the power of the cloud to work for them for meaningful transformation. To find more stories from Google Cloud customers in Japan and Asia Pacific, visit our website.