From AI to football: Our 10 most popular articles from 2016

Last year was a big year for Rakuten.Today. Our readers checked in with us on a wide range of tech and business topics, from AI and robots to blockchain and disruptive new ways of thinking. For those who might have missed something, here are our most popular posts from the past 12 months:

1. Rakuten to become FC Barcelona Main Global Partner from 2017

Rakuten’s biggest announcement of the year also saw the biggest reaction on Rakuten.Today – no surprise, considering the attention the announcement received from media around the world. Leading us out of 2016 with a bang, this new partnership has set the stage for an exciting 2017.

2. Turning tokyo into a tech hub: Inspiring entrepreneurs

The New Economy Summit (NEST) 2016 also saw discussion over the role of Tokyo in the tech world – whether the city has what it takes to compete with Silicon Valley, and what it needs to do to get there.

3. Japan’s new business language

Over six years ago, Chairman and CEO  Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani stood in front of thousands of Japanese employees and announced, in English, that they would from then on conduct all of their business, from official meetings to internal emails, in English. Six years on, the results speak for themselves.

4. Teaching coding through storytelling

At the New Economy Summit (NEST) 2016, we had the chance to interview Finnish author, illustrator, programmer and educator Linda Liukas. Having just published “Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding,” Liukas shared her views on how to teach the next generation to be competent in a world of code.

5. Why ‘doing good’ is so important to Viber

Viber is one of Android’s top 10 most downloaded apps of all time. What makes the service stand out so much? Scott Nelson, head of Viber in North America, reveals all.

6. Unleashing the robot revolution at NEST 2016

The New Economy Summit (NEST) 2016 took place in April, with big names such as Andy Rubin, also known as the father of Android, and Logan Green, Lyft co-founder, taking to the stage to discuss the newest breakthroughs in the tech world. Japanese startup Schaft’s bipedal robot prototypes, which joined the speakers onstage, were among the highlights.

7. Rakuten Blockchain Lab to open in Belfast: The backstory

In August, the Rakuten Blockchain Lab officially opened in the United Kingdom, creating new opportunities for synergy between the technology on which bitcoin is based and Rakuten’s many fintech-related businesses.

8. Rakuten, the global innovator

August also saw Rakuten named once again as one of Forbes magazine’s Most Innovative Companies. Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani gives some insight into Rakuten’s innovation history, and why we have consistently ranked the highest among Japanese companies.

9. RIT connects the real and the virtual at CEATEC

In October, the Rakuten.Today team headed to CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) in Tokyo to visit the Rakuten Institute of Technology’s booth. On display were zapzap, a machine to help you peruse books you might want to read, and KiTeMiROOM, an AI program that detects what you are wearing and recommends personalized styles.

10. AI and personalized customer service: Japan’s Omotenashi

‘How does AI connect to omotenashi? Many of the discussions around AI focus on what AI can do: Can it drive a car? Calculate a credit score? Beat a human player at a strategy game? These are all worthy goals, but I want us to think about AI not just in terms of “what” but also in terms of “why?”’

In September, Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani shared some parallels between Japanese culture and artificial intelligence.

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