South Korean internet giant Naver, based on its partnership with SoftBank, is preparing a full-fledged breakthrough in enterprise IT solutions within the traditionally inward-looking Japanese business community.
According to IT Industry Sunday, Naver will leverage its partnership with SoftBank to develop and sell B2B solutions in Japan. Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon confirmed to employees that efforts are underway.
Naver’s chief financial officer, Kim Nam-sun, during an investor relations session in May, said Naver had gained the confidence to expand its B2B solutions into overseas markets.
Naver’s main B2B businesses include Naver Cloud, Naver Works Mobile, Naver Clova AI, Naver Whale and Papago. Naver Cloud has an independent server in Japan to offer various AI technologies such as chatbots and Papago translation solution. According to a Naver official, Naver plans to launch a multi-cloud service next month in Japan.
Japan’s largest delivery company Yamato Transport, electrical appliance conglomerate Panasonic and convenience store franchise Lawson have started using Clova’s artificial intelligence service, Naver’s virtual assistant, “LINE Clova”.
Naver will test its collaboration tool Naver Works Mobile – currently ranked No. 1 in the Japanese collaborative software market – at its second headquarters in Korea to see if it can be used as an AI assistant. Naver Whale, a free web browser, has a team directly under the CEO working on its global release.
Naver’s already relatively successful B2B business can boost the company’s global expansion through a partnership with SoftBank which serves 94%, or about 400,000, of Japan’s listed companies with at minus 960 billion won ($726 million) in revenue as customers. Japan’s IT market for its small and medium-sized enterprises alone (6.8 trillion yen or $49.2 billion) is twice as large as the entire Korean IT market.
The potential synergy between Naver’s technology and SoftBank’s 15,000 sales reps increases the success rate of B2B deals, an industry expert said.
To foster the global push of its B2S business, Naver is actively developing its B2B workforce. Currently, about 71% of workers at Naver’s headquarters and six of its subsidiaries are part of its overseas operations. By company, employees assigned to B2B infrastructure represent 17%, which is the most important.
Demand for B2B services is expected to remain strong as businesses continue to make digital transformation their top priority, despite the slowdown in B2C services amid economic uncertainty.
Shares of Naver traded up 4.98% to 242,500 won in Monday morning’s trade.
By Lim Young-shin and Susan Lee
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]