A technology unit composed of geeks who use IT ability to score victories in the marketplace
Creating new possibilities in IT skills and services under the motto of "technology first"
The Recruit Group split into seven main operational companies and three service companies in 2012. One of these service companies is Recruit Technologies.
Since the founding of the Recruit Group up until around the year 2000, all of the media and information services of our group members were mainly offered in printed format. But, with the advent of the Internet along with PCs, tablets, smartphones, and other new devices, we brought together our once disparate technology departments in order to focus on IT. This joint effort would then become a fully-fledged service company at the time of the group's division. Recruit Technologies is now a tech-centric organization traversing the entire Recruit Group whose primary enterprises include developing web services and online marketing technology.
Within Recruit Technologies there exists a unit known as "ATL" (Advanced Technology Lab) that researches and develops ultra cutting-edge tech. This R&D team explores the most advanced IT techniques available along with the potential for applying them to actual services under the concept of "technology first", or a belief that technology will pave the way for business innovations. ATL is comprised of the most forward-thinking engineers to be found in the Recruit Group, and while it conducts R&D at its HQ in Japan, the unit also maintains a base in Germany so it can interface with the latest innovations and technology in the European marketplace in real time.
One of our major goals here at the Recruit Group is achieving victory in the marketplace through the power of IT. ATL continues to play an ever-larger role in our group as a team devoted to realizing this goal.
A place where the wildest ideas of geeky engineers can run free
The main mission of ATL is, in keeping with their concept, to create new value from advanced technology. Their fields of development include devices, real-time processing, natural language processing, and platforms. ATL also researches technical elements that haven't permeated society yet, and then develops related solutions likely to break onto the scene in the next two to three years.
ATL's R&D process is composed of three sequential phases: alpha, beta, and gamma. The alpha phase is for research and investigating whether ideas will prove useful to any business endeavors in the Recruit Group. At this stage engineers are allowed to pursue freeform concepts and their genuine interests with no interference from superiors. If an engineer is able to discover value in an idea then it moves into the beta phase, where its feasibility is examined and it undergoes various trials such as proving tests with our operational companies. Any ideas that make it past this point move into the gamma phase, where they are implemented into actual projects.
A lack of emphasis on profit and loss statements is another key feature of the R&D process at ATL. What matters more than proceeds is whether or not people will find the technology under development to be truly interesting, fun, or useful when they use or interact with it. The uninhibited ideas of the ATL engineers and staff are what support the future of the Recruit Group.
An approach to VR that stimulates every sense, not just vision
ATL's mission is to blaze a trail into the near future, so it makes sense that one of their recent forays is into the realm of VR. ATL doesn't make hardware though, and this is why they explore new possibilities from the unique viewpoint of a provider of various services like the Recruit Group. One example is a virtual reality experience that stimulates all hearing, tough, and all the other five senses instead of just vision.
The proving ground for this idea was "Mirai Amusement Park", a VR experience event organized and sponsored by the Recruit Group. One of the attractions synchronized 360-degree video shot by a drone with jumping and other movements of the user. This offered visitors a composite physical experience with rising and falling that wasn't limited to the visual input provided by the video. There was also a horseback simulator with a headset that allowed people an experience like riding in a horse race. This attraction incorporated mist and wind to stimulate people's tactile senses as well as their vision.
The event achieved high ratings from nearly 500 visitors. But, ATL's goal is not to make amusement parks. The point is to explore never-before-seen possibilities in VR, and then either pair these ideas with the Recruit Group's business domains, or provide technology that will produce entirely new services. This unique viewpoint is what allows ATL to experiment with new challenges in the realm of virtual reality. Who knows, in the near future our housing information service "SUUMO" may conduct virtual viewings of properties while our marriage information service "Zexy" could hold VR overseas weddings. Perhaps one day our travel service "Jalan" may even offer virtual tours of world heritage sites.
Setting the stage for flexibility in developing and providing new services
Another area ATL is pursuing in a similar manner to VR is IoT (Internet of Things) technology, which has been trending in recent years. One example is a keyless entry system that allows users to lock or unlock doors with their smartphones. This idea originated in a case example developed by a German IT venture. Most housing complexes in Germany have indoor garbage collection points due to issues of public security. This means that garbage men have to carry many keys with them in order to do their job. Keyless entry using smartphones was the solution developed for this problem.
This need to carry around multiple keys applies to plenty of other fields aside from just for trash collectors in Germany, so there is a definite possibility it could lead to some form of new service. ATL, too, decided to develop an original product based on this theory, which resulted in "iNORTH KEY", a keyless entry system specialized for realtors showing off properties (available for purchase from the Recruit Sumai Company in July 2016). Normally when conducting viewings of empty rental properties, real estate agents have to go collect the keys to properties from the management companies and then return them after the viewing is over. The iNORTH KEY system makes this process more efficient by eliminating the need to retrieve keys from property management companies while also enhancing security for entry or exit of rooms by making it possible to tell what keys were used when and by whom. There are also plans to use the system in vacation rentals and share-houses in the future.
The most important thing for ATL is to actually try out new, potentially helpful technologies and prepare them for use. This stance of "technology first" has fostered an environment that makes it possible to flexibly develop and offer new services.
Changing the world through technology, not just meeting its needs
ATL always has at least 10 to 15 R&D projects running concurrently. The evaluation period for a new technology can last anywhere from a few months to a year, and if no potential can be found the team moves on to the next idea. Only one or two of these ideas will actually lead to a new service.
What is important in maintaining this sense of speed while conducting R&D that envisions the next two or three years is a viewpoint of not simply supplying things the world needs, but instead changing the world with technology. This means finding value during the earliest seed-sowing stages and then continually picking those ideas that bear fruit.
This is possible thanks not to profit and loss statements with clear-cut targets, but rather the engineers and staff at ATL's ideas, technical ability, and sense of what is interesting, enjoyable, and useful. ATL is still hard at work today to ensure that we at the Recruit Group realize our mission of victory in the marketplace through the power of IT.
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