Message from Chairperson

On the opening of Rakuten Technology Conference 2016

That time of the year, when you see various challenges, is coming again. It's the time of the Technology Conference.
This year happily marks the tenth anniversary of Rakuten Technology Conference which we have been hosting since 2007 with your continuing support.

This conference has been the event of the engineers, by the engineers, for the engineers with the concept that Rakuten engineers voluntarily plan and operate an exciting conference by themselves. Every year, we prepare it by finding a theme relative to the trend surrounding engineers.

Now we have various fellow members of the diversifying teams globally, work together and run a variety of businesses to the world. Tackling issues, we make the most of each of our own ability and put them together to keep elevating our services up to the high-quality for users. With that in mind, we set up the theme “Our Crimson, Your Kaleidoscope” for the previous conference. Last year, we moved HQ to the new building named “Crimson House”. “Crimson” is an important red color which we have used for the foundation with strong passion. And we expressed the message of a great diversity where various employees collaborate together and deliver wonderful value to customers with the word “Kaleidoscope”.

And then, it's the year 2016. There will be the tenth Technology Conference that should be commemorated. We determined the theme “The next adventure of humankind” for this memorable event.

Until this 10th anniversary, with continuous supports from many fellow members and you, we have taken on lots of challenges. Back in 2007, the year of the first Technology Conference, it was the year when the trend of cloud computing just had started. And then, as smart devices have become common and social network services have grown, people leverage data through such devices and services and solutions of bigdata with datascience are spreading. Development of services is getting more and more complicated, and more and more difficult. To resolve it, we have tried to implement the way of distributed development globally and have introduced the agile methodologies and practices of DevOps aggressively.
Those challenges were covered as a topic in the past conferences. We invited many leading figures to discuss it and shared our practices with them and audience.

Now, AR/VR applications are enhancing the momentum in terms of UX and HCI. IoT is getting popular as the next computing vision to further advance the social dynamics based on the automation of the infrastructure and the utilization of bigdata at a full scale. AI which comes from the re-discovery of deep learning as a disruptive solution is garnering attentions.
AI, in particular, is being incorporated with a number of innovative technologies such as robotics application, autonomous car, pilotless drone, etc. And it is getting expectations to make big influences on many industries and to transform the whole society. Thinking about changes in the coming 10 years, we should be already being overwhelmed.

In the next decade, how should we be confronting the tremendous changes? What next challenges should we do as humanity?

We would like to discuss the next challenge of a human at this conference. The coming disruptive trend is going to shakeup what the business is and what the society is. Jobs which people are currently doing are going to be replaced in a row with IT solutions, mainly AI. Accordingly, our focus should be shifting more and more onto creative activities which generate totally-new framework or structure to business.
IT solution won’t provide any hope to people by itself. IT solution won’t be any vision to us either. Neither will AI. AI won’t give us the answer what to do. We need to think about the challenges of the next 10 years by ourselves.

The next adventure of humankind!

We would like to reflect the theme to the actual sessions of this conference. We will have satellite venues in Sendai, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo in Japan. In collaboration with other locations and events by Rakuten, we will cover broad topics to discuss adventures we should do.

The presentation will also change from the classroom style to the open style like so-called TED presentation, for presenters to be showing next vision from diversifying viewpoints. Furthermore, TED fellows belonging to Rakuten will hit the stage to speak about futuristic possibilities.

And we will be picking up various services and technologies and hosting topics on actual cases of engineers challenging the world. The invited speakers are very cool. We will have a variety of speakers on remarkable contents such as AI, machine learning, especially Deep Learning. AI related startups from overseas will come to tech conf and speak about the state-of-the-art technologies. Great speakers about cognitive solution, super computer with historical records, the latest VR device, world-class OSS, and so on will deliver a presentation at Crimson House. It should be exciting.

There’s more, many speakers on Rakuten side will take the stage to give a talk. Group companies from all over the world, the system of Ebates, our important pillar in US market, the technology challenge of Viki getting popular in over 160 countries, get-things-done behind-the-scence of the world-first drone delivery business “Soraraku”, the inside story of Rakuten Infrastructure supporting development, the achievements by data scientists with the background not only of computer science, but also of physics, economics, etc, etc, the up-to-date AI research report by RIT, the R&D institute, and so forth. We would like to talk about how and what we challenge thoroughly.
Moreover, this year, we're planning to have an experience-based event named “AR/VR Robotics Park” as a special program for the 10th anniversary with have many teams from within or outside Rakuten exhibit solutions of AR, VR, Robot, and more so that you will enjoy and feel the future which already exists. In this park, several world-class companies such as HTC, Lenovo, and so on are planned to demonstrate new applications.
Of course we will also be hosting the ever popular lightning talks, so if you have a topic you want to share please contact us at the email address on the bottom of the website.

Please come, share and discuss the future visions for the coming 10 years with us and hopefully you will get new insight, feel the excitement and gain the power of challenging new adventure in the next decade.

We are looking forward to seeing you.

Technology Conference 2016
Executive Committee Chair
Masaya Mori