ITOCHU Announces Establishment of Joint Venture with World Top-Rated Digital Agency AKQA

‐ Full-scale launch of strategy consulting business to transform customer experiences with digital and design ‐

July 1, 2022

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) and ITOCHU Techno‑Solutions Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Ichiro Tsuge, President; hereinafter “CTC”) announced today the conclusion of a joint-venture agreement with the digital agency AKQA Corp. (headquartered in London, UK; Ajaz Ahmed, CEO; hereinafter “AKQA”), which is one of the world's highest rated*1 in customer experiences, to build their offices in Japan. As soon as the joint venture has received final approval from the relevant authorities, the plan is to have it established in the first half of FY2022.

In recent years, against the backdrop of the popularization of smartphones, technological innovation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and so forth, DX that emphasizes customer experience has increased in importance amid rapid digitalization around the world. While companies around the world, including GAFA, have grown significantly by hiring engineers and designers responsible for customer experience design together, according to IDC survey results, the attitudes of domestic companies toward customer experience are significantly lower than in other parts of the world*2. Based on the idea of market-in, there is an urgent need to develop services and products that pursue customer experiences such as user convenience and ease of use, and to reform organizational structure to realize this.

AKQA is a digital agency that transforms customer experiences through digital and design for leading companies in aviation, telecommunications, automotive, and other industries, and is top-rated by several third-party assessors. Since concluding a business alliance agreement in March 2020, ITOCHU and AKQA have been promoting projects for major domestic retailers, corporate software operators, contact center operators, and e-commerce businesses.

ITOCHU and CTC will use this joint venture to launch a consulting business specializing in the customer experiences of domestic companies by combining AKQA's world-class customer experience expertise, ITOCHU's domestic and overseas networks, and CTC's system development and operation capabilities. Through this joint venture, we aim to support 100 projects over a five-year period and provide strong support to domestic companies in strengthening their competitiveness in the global market.

ITOCHU transforms business by shifting to a market-oriented perspective, which is a basic policy included its medium-term management plan, and this effort is in line with this policy. Moreover, CTC supports the DX promotion of customers based on technical capabilities cultivated through many years of providing system integration services, including AI/data analysis, IoT, and agile development.
Going forward, we will continue to cooperate with this joint venture and other Group companies to support the strengthening of the customer experience field for domestic companies, thereby contributing to the digitalization of all domestic companies.

AKQA example

They were among the first to develop an app that supports fitness at home (about 15 million downloads).
By creating new direct and continuous points of contact with consumers, they contributed to the acceleration of NIKE's digital strategy.

At the H&M main store, they developed an experience area where used clothes brought in by consumers are reborn as new clothes.
They effectively promoted H&M's commitment to the environment and won the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions, the world's largest advertising award.