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Business trends

Japan Inc. shares precious big data to boost productivity

Seven & i leads swap of information on customers, passengers and phone users

Customer visit data from Seven-Eleven convenience stores could help parent Seven & i target areas to beef up online supermarkets.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese businesses will share industrial data with members of other sectors and even direct rivals in hopes of boosting productivity overall, through a private initiative led by retailer Seven & i Holdings and a separate government platform.

Advances in artificial intelligence enable companies to use so-called big data in ways they could not before, to seek deeper understanding of customer behavior. For instance, pooling information from Seven & i's 23 million daily customer interactions and mobile provider NTT Docomo's network of 76 million mobile subscribers could help pinpoint areas where everyday shopping is inconvenient, which would help with planning the expansion of online supermarkets. Combining knowledge of people's movements and tastes could also help with building attractive towns and planning store locations.

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