Investing in Japan
Success Stories Rocket Software Japan Ltd.
Rocket Software, a US-based enterprise software developer, established a Japanese subsidiary, Rocket Software Japan Ltd., in Yokohama in April 2015. The following year, the company opened an R&D center in Sapporo. In addition to mainframe software the company has also developed three new product lines, looking to expand its share in Japan’s IT market, one of the largest in the world.
Rocket Software was established in Boston, Massachusetts in 1990. It has since grown its business developing mainframe software based on the OEM model for IBM in parallel with developing various types of software - application management, data migration and network management. Over the past few years the company has provided more than 150 types of products in broad areas such as analytics, backup and recovery, life cycle management, cloud computing, mobile, open source and modernization. Rocket has 1300 employees and 31 sites around the world in the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Australia, China and Japan, in addition to the US. As a global IT company, it also has 1,600 partner companies, 15,500 customers and 10 million end users.
Strength of global software vendor
While Rocket has utilized its diverse product lineup to expand globally, it also focuses meticulously on localization. For example, while it is common practice for software developers in the US to set American specifications as their default global standard, Rocket has earned the trust of a broad range of customers through delivery of solutions tailored to each customer's industry and technologies anywhere in the world. Adhering to the idea that it should strive to be the best by meeting local needs, the company has adopted national language support (NLS) to a very high degree, enabling easy use of its products for customers outside of the US. One of the developer’s strengths is its business model emphasizing customer support after sales, in addition to product development. This has allowed it to not only survive the fiercely volatile IT industry for 26 years but to thrive in it as well.
Rocket Software Headquarters in US
Background of Rocket’s entrance in Japan
Rocket established its Japanese subsidiary Rocket Software Japan Ltd. in Yokohama in April 2015. Hisato Suehara, Representative Director of Rocket Japan, spoke on the background of his company’s entry in the Japanese market. "Japan is the third largest IT market in the world, and one which we knew couldn’t be ignored. In addition, we have aspired to build a scheme to meet the high requirements of Japanese customers in terms of overall product quality and product follow-up." He adds, "Not only does Japan have a huge IT market, it has one of the largest mainframe markets in the world as well. Mainframe software is our core product, which means Japan is a very attractive market to us from the perspective of both our existing and prospective business. Moreover, we aim to expand our sales channels through three new products released in 2015: data consolidation within mainframes, application association across various platforms and data analytics for corporate information. And we aspire to deploy one of our original strengths, customer follow-up strategies, in Japan as well. Previously, Japanese customers frequently faced the challenge of being forced to contact us in English with inquiries on the US-originated software they use. We opened our office in Japan because we had received requests from Japanese customers to enhance our Japanese localization and having our site here resolves such issues."
Merely one year after establishment of the Yokohama office, in April 2016, Rocket Japan opened their second R&D center in Sapporo, an IT hub within Japan. "We had looked to build our site in Sapporo since establishing the Yokohama office. In Sapporo, we were fortunately able to hire a lot of engineers with outstanding IT skills. Our goal from here on out is to build a stronger connection between the two sites," Mr. Suehara explained enthusiastically.
Rocket’s strategy to branch out into Japan
Rocket had actually considered the establishment of its Japanese subsidiary since before 2015. "We believed that we needed to build a proper body to meet the sophisticated levels of product quality that Japanese customers would expect,” said the Representative Director. “After careful preparation spanning several years, including collecting information and expanding our customer base, and once we saw concrete prospects for securing human resources, we finally made our decision to go for it."
Rocket Japan was selected for Kanagawa Prefecture’s “financing grant to promote new locations of foreign businesses” while in the process of establishing the local office. Showing gratitude to the prefecture, Mr. Suehara said, "They were so supportive for us. Thanks to them, we acquired a splendid office environment."
Prospects for development in Japan’s massive IT market
Rocket Japan currently employs 50 people. "All of our employees are seasoned in the IT world. We are on the right track for further growth." said Mr. Suehara. The company is on its way to completing its Japan-specific product development system. The next step is to enhance the sales force and to get involved with an organization promoting ICT business in the healthcare sector. "Since our establishment, we have always prided ourselves on maintaining product quality at a high level as an OEM partner of major companies. Recently the number of our products has increased considerably. We hope to hire more people who can embody the value of our company and our products. In the meantime, we plan to develop new business to leverage our software products for healthcare system-related challenges faced by local municipal offices and corporate health insurance organizations. Our goal is to contribute to a reduction in the number of patients by improving efficiency, introducing new disease prevention initiatives through analytical forecasting and applying big data," he said.
Mr. Suehara, Representative Director of Japan office (Yokohama headquarters)
In the establishment of Rocket Japan, the JETRO Invest Japan Business Support Center (IBSC) offered assistance to the company such as consultation over registration and provision of information on incorporation procedures and relevant markets. Mr. Suehara said, "From the very first step of the establishment of our Yokohama office, when there were many things we still did not understand, the advice the IBSC gave us in cooperation with local municipal offices was exceptionally helpful. As we are still in the process of growing, we hope to maintain our close relationship."
(July 2016 interview)
|1990||Establishment of Rocket Software in Boston, MA, US|
|2015||Establishment of Japanese subsidiary in Yokohama, Kanagawa|
|2016||Establishment of R&D center in Sapporo, Hokkaido|
Rocket Software Japan Ltd.
|Business||Research, development and sales of enterprise software|
|Parent company (group)||Rocket Software, Inc.|
|Address||12th Floor, MM Park Building, 3-6-3 Minato-mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 220-0012 Japan|
- Assistance with procedures for incorporation
- Provision of market information