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MIXI: Conducting training programs to promote career development opportunities

First established in 1999 as E-Mercury, Inc. MIXI, Inc. provides communication services in digital entertainment, sports, and lifestyle. And with the help of Google Cloud, MIXI has been able to train our team and acquire new cloud talent.

Getting the attention of future employees by promoting training programs

In 2018, the Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued the “DX Report” and announced the “2025 Digital Cliff” warning, which highlights the significant issue around the declining competitiveness of domestic companies. This, coupled with news around a potential economic loss of up to 12 trillion JPY per year, has made the availability of talent a hot topic. One reason is the severe shortage of engineers. According to the report, there will be a shortfall of about 430,000 IT professionals in the workforce in 2025 in Japan, and signs of this are already evident through increased competition for engineers.

As companies struggle to acquire excellent engineers, many are also accelerating efforts to develop in-house engineers to improve their competitiveness, and hosting developer relations (DevRel) activities to attract excellent engineers to their companies. With that in mind, we sought to highlight our technical capabilities and vision to attract potential candidates to MIXI.

MIXI’s talent development program

We implemented a human resource development and acquisition strategy:

1. Hosting training sessions: We are currently conducting a wide range of trainings mainly for new graduate engineers, as well as AI training for non-engineers. We also offer training sessions to help mid-career engineers learn about the technology we are paying attention to. This will be an opportunity for potential engineers to acquire the technological skills and knowledge with their long-term career prospects in mind.

2. Offering self-service training: It is also important for employees to remain proactive about their self-improvement. Hence, we offer a wide range of training programs for existing staff. On top of having a finger on the pulse of emerging trends such as AI, which many employees are interested in, we also provide training sessions on UI/UX for both designers and engineers, while conducting data management training company-wide. This is part of our efforts to broaden our employees’ perspectives and increase their career options for the future.

3. Continuously updating training content: More than just adding more training programs, we are also staying up to date with the latest technological trends by improving and reviewing the programs we offer every year. One example is in basic applications development. For development in the past, we tried to increase the number of people who can create iOS and Android natively.

However, since cross-platform is becoming the norm, we are conducting sessions on the mobile app framework, Flutter. In addition, we have included training programs on incident handling. We plan to strengthen real-time communication for the next training session. These training materials and videos have been published for free, and available online since 2013. From 2020, we began publishing videos in response to the shift to remote training, so these can remain more accessible to employees. Among them, the training video that explains the Git version control system. The video explains its fundamental mechanisms and how it can be used to solve difficult problems. Git has also been certified as an internal standard development tool for the organization.

Keeping engineers sharp with Google Cloud

Part of our vision to continue providing high-quality services is to consistently develop and hire talent. This was made possible with initiatives such as cooperating closely with Google Cloud to conduct training to prepare for Google Cloud certification in 2020.

This is crucial because despite having engineers with sufficient in-house knowledge, we believe that an external cloud training, as conducted by a cloud service provider, is the best way to learn about the cloud. Even if our engineers use a different cloud solution eventually, they can easily adapt those skills to the solution they’re using, as long as they have the fundamental know-how.

We also adopted Google Cloud training programs, including classroom training and on-demand training, that are available on Google Cloud Skills Boost. In addition, we attended the Advanced Solutions Lab (ASL) in 2019. This, in particular, was a catalyst for introducing AI at MIXI, with many employees expressing interest in taking the course again.

Supporting the robust training for MIXI

We also established a DevRel group, and hosted our first technical conference for engineers, “MIXI Tech Conference 2023,” over three days in March 2023. Led by the DevRel team, the conference serves as a venue for technical presentations and demos. This is to increase the opportunities and recognition of engineers by providing them with an opportunity to take the stage and deliver presentations to peers.

In particular, this event offered a platform for MIXI employees in teams like Quality Assurance, who do not have much exposure to such learning opportunities, could present their efforts and technologies. Given that recent technical conferences tend to have a strong focus on specific themes, we wanted to conduct a broader and more comprehensive technology presentation that is unique to our company, as we provide a wide range of services. This resulted in generating more interest in MIXI than what we initially anticipated.

At the same time, having the right presentation materials across various fields for training and conferences is valuable for the DevRel group. This was also beneficial to recruiters, who can now tap on their own trove of knowledge to find talents with specific technical skills.

Nurturing a team of Google Cloud certified engineers

The instructor-led training (ILT) Google Cloud courses have seen at least 100 MIXI engineers participating in these sessions, including newly graduated engineers. Upon attending the courses, the engineers who honed their skills through these sessions will be considered work-ready experts, and are the first to be called upon to start any new programs and initiatives. We consider the fact that these experts are expanding their skill sets a great achievement. In addition, the participants seem to be having a lot of fun and are enthusiastic about the course.

Moreover, those who attended the training course have said they would like other members of the same team to join the course, which indicates that they are very impressed with the results. With this feedback, we plan to increase the number of course attendees. At the same time, we want to provide training opportunities for employees, who are taking the courses out of personal interests, rather than an obligation to learn about a certain technology. These initiatives support our goal of expanding our technological capabilities, while ensuring that our engineers are Google Cloud certified. To date, 30+ MIXI engineers have earned their Google Cloud certification.

That is why Google Cloud is the ideal partner in this project, with the team facilitating the friendly and open learning environment during the training sessions. As such, we look forward to learning more from the Google Cloud team.

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