Recruit Japan: Harnessing Data to Create Value
Recruit Holdings, Japan's largest staffing firm and a leading marketing media company started out in the early 1960s as an advertising company publishing magazines for jobseekers. It scaled up over the following decades to add business verticals such as real estate, bridal, travel, beauty salons and restaurants. Spurred by the internet revolution in the early 2000s, Recruit launched job boards and websites for its diverse media businesses while also moving content online by digitizing many of its popular magazines. In the early 2010s, it transitioned into becoming a service provider with the launch of a number of web-based platforms that allowed SMEs to digitize several key activities, such as point-of-sale registers, reservations and payments. By 2015 Recruit's digital platforms had gained significant popularity and the company was generating enormous amounts of online data on types of transactions, end-user behaviors and SME business characteristics. It also held significant deep offline data that resided within the sales team. However, the platforms and the data was specific to individual businesses. Recruit began to push for a unified backbone platform that would cut across all businesses with vertically stacked integrated solutions. It also established an artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory in Silicon Valley. The mandate was to apply the latest technologies in data analytics, machine learning and AI to achieve breakthrough innovation. At the same time, Recruit harbored global aspirations and embarked on international expansion, mainly through acquisitions. Its goal was to become the world's largest staffing firm by 2020 and the largest media company by 2030. Could Recruit replicate its business model successfully overseas? Could it leverage its people and technological platforms to transform itself into a truly global internet corporation? Could it cannibalize its existing businesses through data-driven innovations to leapfrog into the future?