ITOCHU Announces Capital Partnership with SOLAIRO and Participation in BPO Business Utilizing AI Technology

October 7, 2016

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that ITOCHU, BELLSYSTEM24 Holdings, Inc. (headquartered in Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Ichiro Tsuge, Representative Director, President, CEOPresident & CEO; hereinafter “BELLSYSTEM24HD”) and NTT DATA Corporation (headquartered in Koto-ku, Tokyo; Toshio Iwamoto, President & CEO; hereinafter “NTT DATA”) agreed to acquire the shares of SOLAIRO Inc. (headquartered in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; Hiromi Nakajima, President; hereinafter “SOLAIRO”), a provider of the web customer service utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, via private placement, and to enter into a capital partnership with SOLAIRO with a view to expanding the business process outsourcing (BPO) business utilizing AI technologies. The shares were subscribed with the following ownership ratio: ITOCHU and BELLSYSTEM24HD 6.9% each; NTT DATA 2.8%.

In 2015 the domestic business-to-consumer electronic commerce (BtoC-EC) market increased 7.6% from the previous year and expanded into a 13.8 trillion-yen market (Note 1), and it continues to grow steadily. In this situation, SOLAIRO provides the web customer service OK SKY™ using the interactive chat system to EC operators, particularly in the apparel industry. The service initially uses AI to make an automatic response to inquiries from customers and then switches to agentsoperators who are familiar with the products when the customers are considering making a purchase, enabling detailed responses to be made to the customers. This will increase the number of web customers as well as the purchase rate, and will also ensure that more customers visit the physical stores.

ITOCHU, BELLSYSTEM24HD and NTT DATA will enter into a business tie-up with the aim of expanding the sales of OK SKY provided by SOLAIRO by utilizing the networks owned by these three companies in Japan and abroad. BELLSYSTEM24HD will drive the expansion of commissioned sales operations in a wide range of industries by introducing OK SKY in its own contact centers and integrating SOLAIRO’s sales process designing ability with the operation abilities and human resource development expertise of each business type that have been accumulated by BELLSYSTEM24HD.

NTT DATA will focus on technical enhancement through technical cooperation related to AI with the NTT Group while seeking to expand sales to customers by incorporating OK SKY into the interactive commerce field within its own omni-channel (Note 2) base.

ITOCHU will develop the business in the Asian region by utilizing its overseas network. It will sell OK SKY in the Asian market, including China where web customer services are widespread, and focus on the automatization of the web customer service.

Positioning the BPO business that is highly compatible with IT as a high-priority area, ITOCHU, BELLSYSTEM24HD and NTT DATA will continue to expand the business through business tie-ups with companies who create a new BPO field with the advanced business model that establishes links with the settlement system and AI technologies.

Image of customer service using OK SKY

Image of customer service using OK SKY

  • (Note 1) Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, FY 2015 Infrastructure Development in Japan’s Information and Service-based Economy Society (E-Commerce Market Survey)
    (Note 2) Environment that integrates diverse sales and distribution channels including physical stores and online stores to make shopping available anytime, anywhere
    * OK SKY is a trademark of SOLAIRO Inc.
    * Other names of products, companies and groups in the text are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

OK SKY, the web customer service

OK SKY offers customer service optimized for each customer on the web utilizing the AI technologies and web sales expertise accumulated by SOLAIRO.
As customers are served using a chat format, interactive and real-time communication can be established with customers on the web. Moreover, the AI system enables recognition of the needs of the customers and the efficient selection of the service and products to be offered to the customers.
The use of this service will allow a communicator to serve seven or eight customers at the same time.

Outline of SOLAIRO Inc.

Location Koshin Bldg. 3F, 1-32-11 Nishi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Representative President Hiromi Nakajima
Date of establishment October 1, 2013
Capital 85.25 million yen (September 2016)
Business Provision of OK SKY web customer service