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    • [Part 2] What We Can Do Because of Our 「Close Relationship with Users」 - The Past and Future of 「Service Operation」 at LINE Fukuoka

    [Part 2] What We Can Do Because of Our 「Close Relationship with Users」 - The Past and Future of 「Service Operation」 at LINE Fukuoka

    [Part 2] What We Can Do Because of Our 「Close Relationship with Users」 - The Past and Future of 「Service Operation」 at LINE Fukuoka サムネイル画像

    [Notice] Effective October 1, 2023, LINE Fukuoka has changed its company name to LY Communications. Articles published on or before September 30, 2023 were written with our former company name.

    LINE Fukuoka celebrates its seventh anniversary on November 18. In that brief period, the company has rapidly expanded in both organizational scale and the functions that it is equipped to perform.
    As part of our seventh anniversary project, we will be re-introducing you to the roles that we currently carry out, as well as asking department leaders about how things have changed over the last seven years and what challenges they plan to take on in the future. For the first installment in this series, we spoke with the "service operation" departments.

    In Part 1 of this installment, we focused on the Customer Care Department, as well as the Localization and financial service departments that were created from it. In Part 2, we'll sit down with departments in charge of monitoring, strategic business operations, review/sales, and crossing organizational boundaries in an effort to streamline work as well as optimize the value of "service operation" at LINE Fukuoka.

    This time we interviewed:

    Value Management Center/Value Management Dept. Head - Ryosuke Kogo
    Review & Sales Dept. Head - Tomoaki Tomitaka
    Global Operation Dept. Head - Toshiyuki Kato

    Utilizing Cutting-Edge Technology and Experience to Become a Global Leader in Monitoring
    ― Just like the Customer Care Department from Part 1, various operation departments related to the services that we offer have existed since the company's establishment. The Content Moderation Department, which handles monitoring work for LINE services, branched off from that group and has grown into a large organization even within LINE Fukuoka.

    Matsuyama: Monitoring work to detect and remove malicious posts began at the same time that Timeline (which lets users make posts in a public space) was released. That work is crucial for ensuring faith in and safety for our services, so the first issue we faced was building a system that enables a "rapid response" and "stable operation."

    When we first started, we were somehow able to make things work by sheer force of numbers, but as our services expanded, it wasn't a workload that we could respond to with just manpower. It was essential for us to streamline and automate our work.

    ― The team was formed in 2015 to take on operational improvement and streamlining. It took these directives to the next level, merging the monitoring tools that had previously differed for each service and setting up measures to deal with abusive users.
    Now, it is one of the departments in LINE Fukuoka that makes the most use of our AI technology. Its filtering optimization project, which received the LFK Value Award's (our internal awards system's) highest honor in 2019, utilized AI, automation, past experience, and statistics to give us a glimpse at the future of content monitoring.

    Matsuyama: We initially created a team centered around existing employees who excelled at utilizing technology, and we gathered more talent like that when hiring afterwards.

    In our system, team members that are proactively learning and those that have picked up knowledge on-site work together to create good structures that are used at LINE offices all over the world.
    The filtering optimization project that received the LFK Value Award's highest honor in 2019 is currently being prepared for deployment overseas as well.

    ― The "User Voice Report" project, which collects user feedback from social media and presents it to business departments, also began in 2016. It seems the department doesn't stop at "removing malicious content," but works to understand LINE users and reflect their voices in our services.
    Matsuyama: There are a lot of times where we come across user requests that don't make it all the way to Customer Care through our monitoring. We also get a lot of feedback that leads to service improvements.

    LINE Fukuoka is a company that has a very close relationship with its users. I think that listening to their feedback and connecting it to our services is an important mission. Right now, we're actually planning to establish a department that consolidates the user feedback that each department has and utilizes it in that very way.

    We believe that the Content Moderation Department is already leading Japan in the monitoring field, and moving forward, we'd like to continue to polish our technology and knowledge so that we can act as a benchmark for other companies.

    The Creation of Specialized "Strategic Business" Divisions in the AI, Healthcare, and Search Fields
    ― The Strategic Operation Department branched off as an independent section from the same organization as the Content Moderation Department. It is in charge of various work related to service provision, with a focus on LINE's strategic business.
    Nonaka: Originally, we were a division that took on work necessary for service operations, including work that is currently handled by the Media Operation Department and the Content Moderation Department.

    As our services expanded, we split into three departments in 2019, and have changed our system to one that allows each department to further polish its own expertise.

    ― Currently, the Strategic Operation Department is primarily in charge of LINE's strategic business, such as AI, healthcare, search, and food delivery. We get the impression that the department has bolstered not only employee growth but also collaboration with partners outside of the company.
    Nonaka: Since the department is focused on strategic business and our services change extremely quickly, new types of work appear every week. A lot of the time, the way we do things today is different from how we did them yesterday. Collaboration with external partners is also key so that we can change our department structure flexibly to match the current situation.

    ― Going forward, what kind of evolution are you aiming for?
    Nonaka: Until now we've mainly polished our "operational design" skills, and there are still issues for us to tackle in terms of expertise and understanding in each field. I'd like for us to contribute to LINE's success in strategic business by achieving greater expertise in each field that we handle, such as AI, healthcare, and search technology.

    The Strategic Operation Department's project took top honors in the semi-permanent employee category at the 2019 LFK Value Award internal awards ceremony. The department aims to evolve further through specializing in strategic business.

    "Sales" That Increased Earnings by 166 Times, and a 90% Reduction in "Review" Waiting Times
    ― The Review & Sales Department was established in 2013 by just two members of the LINE@ Sales division. As the current Department Head, we'd like to ask Mr. Tomitaka whether it's true that the department was created because you stepped up to the plate?

    Tomitaka: I believe LINE Fukuoka is a company that attracts employees with diverse backgrounds, and that the ideal is for them to be able to choose the work that they do. That's my general assumption. So whenever I have the chance to broaden the scope of work that LINE Fukuoka is in charge of, I want to take on the challenge.

    At the time, LINE@ (now LINE Official Accounts) was showing signs of growth, so I talked to the higher-ups and encouraged them to let Fukuoka take charge of the partner acquisition business. After that, we were able to take on planning for promotions like the " 1 COIN WALK Fukuoka", and once we made some achievements, the scope of our planning and sales work with other services expanded.

    At the same time, Fukuoka was responsible for review and identity verification related-work for acquiring partners. We grew by repeating the process of getting work, producing results, and getting work based on those results.

    The 1 COIN WALK Fukuoka promotion was held in 2014 to gain LINE@ users and partners.
    The event became a hot topic by offering food and drinks from popular restaurants in Fukuoka for just JPY 500.

    ― In 2017, an inside sales division was created for LINE Ads, one of LINE's core businesses. Established with just three members, the department now has about 15 members and has expanded its area of business from Western Japan to the entire country. Compared to when the department was created, sales have also increased by 166 times. In 2020, LINE also began inside sales for Demae-can, which is one of the company's strategic businesses.

    Tomitaka: Of course, the growth of our services themselves has been substantial, but I feel that having employees who are experienced in data analysis, are passionate about advertising, and can commit to sales are a factor in that growth. Together with the expansion of our department, we're now able to develop strategies for "creating sales as a team."

    ― We've also heard that you have made quite a bit of progress in streamlining reviews.

    Tomitaka: Compared to when our team was established, the amount of content subject to review has roughly doubled, but we've been able to reduce review wait times by 90% That's the result of repeated improvements to tools and our workflow, not simply increasing our manpower.

    ― In 2018, you also created a cross-functional division within your department.

    Tomitaka: Yes, it's a team that sets and implements business benchmarks, creates structures for member growth, and assists with management. As a department, we have this team handle "projects that are critical but not urgent."

    I would normally put managers in charge of this work, but right now, our environment requires them to focus on considering "highly urgent" on-site tasks. I think it would be ideal for us to improve our environment to a point where that team is ultimately no longer necessary.

    Recently, we also launched a new team that is responsible for cultivating talent.
    I'd like this team to become one that cultivates talent that can shine no matter where they go, and be a presence that is “copied” both inside and outside the company.

    The team holds a workshop. Accompanying growth of the division, team-building is also been a process of trial and error.

    A Cross-Functional Organization Created to "Optimize LINE Fukuoka's Value"

    ― LINE Fukuoka grows year after year, and the roles we play have also expanded.
    The Value Management Center was established to solve organizational issues that arose from that growth. It is made up of the Value Management Department (which is in charge of visualizing value) and the Global Operation Department (which is in charge of tool development and improvement).

    Kato: I was also originally a part of on-site operations, so I knew that we could improve work efficiency and quality by utilizing tools and establishing workflows, but I had nowhere near enough time to work on it. I spoke with my supervisor at the time, and we decided to create dedicated departments that specialize in operational improvement.

    Matsuyama: LINE creates new services every day, and the work we do is always changing. Going to different sites and maintaining systems that anticipate future needs is extremely difficult work. We needed departments that could properly carry out on-site operation and work to maintain systems objectively.

    Kato: We gathered members who were seasoned veterans in their departments and conducted interviews about the issues that they had. At the same time, we were hiring new members who had the skills required to resolve those issues.

    The departments originally had just two members, but have since expanded to about 40. We refined our system, and have been able to take on operational improvement in earnest since 2019.

    Kogo: The company needed these departments precisely because it has grown. As the functions that we served increased and our scale expanded, there was enough room to develop our best initiatives laterally and further grow the company as a whole.

    The departments seek to "optimize LINE Fukuoka's value," so we're responsible for work that spans a variety of genres, including business operation planning, operational design, as well as designing and operating tools that utilize IT. There aren't many departments like that.

    When I talk to people working at other companies, they're often taken by surprise. I think you could say the Value Management Center itself is one of LINE Fukuoka's unique characteristics.

    AI Workshop
    The Operation & AI Workshop held by the Global Operation Department in 2019. Members from offices in Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Tokyo, and more gathered to work on the same issues.

    ― Since its establishment, the center has driven many projects forward while collaborating with other departments. Among those,the project to consolidate over 100 tools that were previously broken up among each service and department into one platform was particularly impressive.

    Kogo: As LINE rapidly expanded, new services were being created one after the other before tools or operational designs were put in place. Despite doing similar work, departments were using tools with different designs and operational feels for each service.

    Kato: We thought that if the tools were consolidated, it would be easier to develop our best initiatives laterally, and we could drastically reduce man hours for research and development.

    Kogo: When new services are released in the future, they will be operable on the same platform. We'll be able to save time on operation system maintenance, speed up releases, and get things running more smoothly.

    ― The tools that you've maintained in Fukuoka are also scheduled to be deployed in offices globally, aren't they?

    Kato: Yes. LINE has multiple domestic and international offices, but the offices in Indonesia, Taiwan, and Thailand perform a lot of work that is similar to what we do in Fukuoka.

    From the start, we anticipated that the "Global" Operation Department would expand laterally overseas, and reflected that in the naming. But if we were going to do that, we wanted to improve work efficiency for the LINE Group as a whole, not just Fukuoka.

    ― Since 2019, the department has also been working to "visualize the value" of LINE Fukuoka.

    Kogo: We pursue various projects from the perspective of illuminating and optimizing latent abilities and strengths as well as value in the company. These include introducing the "Manage by Objectives and Self Control" (MBO-S) objective management system, promoting KPI management, and the reform/improvement of business operation.

    The people who work at LINE Fukuoka are constantly asking themselves "What is LINE Fukuoka's value?" while going about their work. We provide support so they can talk about that value in numbers.


    ― Please tell us about the "One Team Project" that began in 2020.

    Kogo: There are a lot of partner companies that support our work at LINE Fukuoka.
    Each of the many partner companies that we work with has their own outstanding qualities.

    The One Team Project encourages overcoming company boundaries to share great initiatives and improvement measures so that we can come together as one team to create more value. Now it has gone beyond the operation department, and is being undertaken by the organization as a whole.

    ― How will the Value Management Center evolve in the future?

    Kogo: I think we've come a long way towards "visualizing value" in these two years. I'd like to further work towards value maximization in the future, and I also want work with high added-value to increase at LINE Fukuoka.

    There are different definitions for "high added-value." In the so-called "operation design" field, for example, there are things LINE Fukuoka can do precisely because it has been around for seven years and has accumulated experience. That's where I want to devote more of our efforts.

    Kato: We've come a long way in visualizing value and data, so moving forward, I'd like to utilize that data to create structures that allow us to contribute more directly to business goals, such as sales or active user numbers. That's something I'm confident we can do.

      A Meetup held in 2019 to discuss work improvements made in the operation of LINE services. Opportunities to share knowledge outside the company are on the rise.

    Growing LINE Services as "the Departments Closest to Users"

    ― The last questions are for all three of you. How will LINE Fukuoka's service operation departments evolve going forward? How do you want to drive LINE Fukuoka's evolution from the service operation departments?

    Matsuyama: I think there are a lot of things that only LINE Fukuoka can do, because we are directly connected to our users. I'd like for our departments to be able to contribute to service growth by building deeper relationships with users in the future, while utilizing the knowledge and experience we've accumulated up to now.

    Nonaka: We're in a market where user needs are constantly changing, so I feel like we're in a difficult era where there's no correct answer regarding evolution. However, I think that offering the services best suited to users in that moment and changing them through operations are things LINE Fukuoka can do. I hope that we can further evolve by continuing to challenge ourselves to do that.

    Kogo: I think LINE Fukuoka is a company that deals with change very well. While one characteristic of operation work is that it demands stability, LINE Fukuoka's operation departments have flexibly responded to a lot of change up to now.

    Many members are experienced in presenting their ideas, so we should be creating more change from within, not just responding to changes outside the company. I'd like to make this company more interesting than ever before.

    A message from the editor/LINE Fukuoka Press
    Service operations work is fairly difficult to see from the outside, and at its essence, it's difficult to convey everything about that work externally. But the Value Management Center is taking on the challenge each and every day so that people using LINE will think "I'm glad I use LINE services" or "I want to use them again."

    In this issue, several leaders spoke about their "gratitude for those who have supported LINE from inside and outside the company, and those that have accumulated value for the company over the past seven years." That includes not just those who currently work at LINE Fukuoka, but colleagues who have worked with us in the past; not just employees within the company, but the partner companies that support us externally as well.

    LINE Fukuoka exists thanks to the challenges a countless number of people have taken on, and the strength accumulated through all of the feedback that people who have used our services have taken the time to give us. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude once again.

    In the next issue of our seventh anniversary project, we'll be sitting down to discuss the "creative business" involved in design, media operation, and games. We hope that you'll read the next post as well!

    ▼ 7th Anniversary Project - Discussing the Past Seven Years and the Future of LINE Fukuoka [Seven posts in total]

    You can also follow us on social media to get regular updates about career opportunities and the initiatives LINE Fukuoka is undertaking!

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