Yasufumi Hirai, CIO & CISO, Group Executive Vice President, Rakuten Inc.

Photo: Yasufumi Hirai with the Rakuten India and APAC region leadership teams celebrating the new FC Barcelona partnership in Bangalore.

Namaste! This month I had the pleasure of visiting with one of the teams responsible for developing and operating cutting-edge technologies and innovations for many of our global services: Rakuten India. This is a center where we have ambitious plans for growth, including the intention to double our headcount.

In the 18 months since it was opened, Rakuten India Enterprise Private Limited has already become the largest of our six global Research and Technology Development Centers outside of Japan. It also has one of the coolest offices in Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore, or the “Silicon Valley of South Asia.”

We’re very proud of the team assembled by Rakuten India’s new CEO, Sunil Gopinath, and his leadership team of Naren Narayana, Shreedhar Patwari and Hari Rao. They currently have some 300 engineers, and plan to bring on many more.

The Bengaluru team works seamlessly alongside their counterparts in Silicon Valley, Europe, Asia and Tokyo to develop and deploy next-generation tools and services that power our global ecommerce and internet services. They are exposed to different technologies across various industries ranging from ecommerce, mobile, media to fintech.

CIO & CISO, Group Executive Vice President, Rakuten Inc., Yasufumi Hirai shakes hands with Rakuten India’s new CEO, Sunil Gopinath at a recent celebration in Bangalore.

Rakuten CIO & CISO Yasufumi Hirai shakes hands with Rakuten India’s new CEO, Sunil Gopinath, at a recent celebration in Bangalore.

One of the Bengaluru office’s key responsibilities is management of our global membership platform, Rakuten ID, which will soon allow Rakuten members to access our many services, including Rakuten Kobo, Rakuten Viki, Ebates and more, with a single ID from anywhere in the world. When in place, the platform will help provide a seamless user experience for the 1.1 billion users of all our services.

Part of that project will be the integration of the Rakuten ID platform with FC Barcelona’s online membership system, with its more than 300 million fans. As part of our partnership with the legendary soccer club, users interested in joining the FC Barcelona website will be able to do so using their Rakuten ID.

In addition to the ID system, Rakuten India also specializes in native, HTLM 5 and hybrid mobile apps for some of our popular e-commerce services in Japan. The team has fully built and made significant contributions to our marketplace administrative systems, e-commerce curation platform Room, delivery services Rakubin and Delivery, price-comparison service Cutter, Rakuten Point Card and insurance services Rakuten Life and Pet Life.

The team is also building products that provide users with a more entertaining online shopping experience and e-commerce merchants with a better understanding of user behavior. In the coming months they will be deploying a state-of-the-art data and system-monitoring center to manage system performance issues and provide 24/7 monitoring of our critical data systems.

One of Rakuten India’s newest challenges is to build chatbots that utilize artificial intelligence. The team has already created a prototype called RITA (Rakuten IT Assistant), which helps automate day-to-day queries and tasks assigned to various internal IT Departments, and I look forward to seeing it deployed to a variety of Rakuten services soon.

This is just one of the exciting initiatives we look forward to sharing at our next annual global 2018 CTO summit, which will be held for the very first time in Bengaluru. The summit will provide the perfect opportunity to showcase not just RITA, but the many innovative technology products that continue to support Rakuten’s growth from our fastest growing tech hub: Rakuten India.


For more on Yasufumi Hirai see here.