Published on June 18, 2024, 9:19 pm

Title: “Rakuten’S Journey Towards Ai Transformation: Empowering Employees Through Innovative Training Initiatives”

Rakuten, a key player in affiliate marketing, is making significant strides in the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) under the leadership of CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. Partnering with OpenAI, Rakuten is geared towards developing customized AI solutions to gain a competitive edge in cutting-edge technology.

Debra Bonomi, Rakuten’s head of learning and development (L&D), highlighted the fruitful outcomes of this collaboration during an interview with ZDNET. Through working closely with OpenAI, Rakuten has implemented a bespoke version of ChatGPT to enhance operations across the organization, much to the satisfaction of the CEO.

CEO Mikitani’s vision is clear – AI will revolutionize every aspect of Rakuten’s operations. By reshaping mindsets and emphasizing that this technology will redefine job roles and organizational focus, he aims to drive a culture shift within the company.

While concerns regarding AI’s impact on employment are commonly voiced, such as automation replacing jobs, there is less emphasis on how AI can empower workers to become more efficient and productive. This shift towards embracing AI requires not only visionary leadership but also employee buy-in to effectively leverage these tools.

Bonomi spearheads efforts at Rakuten to ensure staff are equipped to harness generative AI’s potential while addressing any apprehensions they may have. Implementing a structured three-stage program in partnership with ELB Learning has enabled 800 employees within her department to embrace and exploit AI technologies effectively.

Starting with foundational training in 2023, Rakuten employees were educated on the opportunities AI presents along with considerations for ethics and security risks. The success of this initiative is evident as initial discomfort among staff in using AI decreased significantly over time.

Moving forward, employees advance through stages focusing on practical applications like using ChatGPT for prompt engineering skills. Collaborative workshops and labs further enhance knowledge sharing among employees leading up to certifications establishing proficiency levels.

As individuals progress through these stages culminating in task-specific use cases, Bonomi envisions identifying strategic applications tailored to individual business units. This phase marks a pivotal point where HR collaboration becomes crucial in navigating potential job role transformations driven by AI integration.

The overarching goal is not limited solely to ChatGPT but encompasses broader adoption of diverse AI tools across Rakuten. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability through comprehensive training programs, Rakuten aims to equip its workforce for the evolving landscape shaped by AI advancements.

In her foresight towards continual expansion and readiness for upcoming AI enhancements, Bonomi stresses the need for proactive engagement and commitment from all levels within the organization. As generative AI evolves into a personal assistant aiding productivity gains for employees at Rakuten, there is growing anticipation for future possibilities this transformative technology holds.

For business leaders aspiring to enhance their organization’s proficiency in AI utilization, Bonomi advocates for early adoption of training programs tailored to individual needs. Embracing AI now offers an opportunity not just to predict but actively participate in shaping the future landscape of businesses towards efficiency, coherence, and collaboration brought about by innovative applications of artificial intelligence technologies.


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