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Global Tech Company Embraces Innovative and Sustainable AI Solutions

Rakuten infuses new energy, innovative prowess and change management with AI, supported by global teams

Working with ELB Learning to develop AI IQ Sessions has been a transformative experience for Rakuten's teams. The expert consulting, development, and training services offered by ELB Learning have not only equipped our employees with foundational AI knowledge but have also fostered an environment of innovation across various departments. This training inspired our teams to integrate AI capabilities into our everyday tasks. We are now working with ELB Learning to build more immersive training experiences that are directly impacting our operational efficiency and collaborative efforts. This partnership is helping us leverage the full potential of AI technologies, making our teams smarter and more cohesive in the process.

Debra Bonomi

Head of L&D Department



A Japanese technology conglomerate, Rakuten’s 70+ businesses span a broad range of online and offline services, including e-commerce, travel, digital content, fintech, communications, including a mobile carrier service, and professional sports. Linking these diverse services through a common membership and loyalty program, Rakuten has created one of the world’s most unique and robust ecosystems, and has over 1.8 billion members. 


As an innovative technology organization, Rakuten was excited about the possibilities AI holds, and wanted to explore how best it could be leveraged within the organization. Debra Bonomi, Head of L&D in the Rakuten Advertising Department with over 800 learners, was tasked with getting a jumpstart on using AI in the department. The needs for the department and team members were to find a pathway for using AI naturally and seamlessly, understand its opportunities and forge a way ahead to improve productivity and performance. One of the key components was the learner audience. The solution had to be a viable option for an audience spread across geographies, time zones and cultures, as well as varying competency and comfort levels with AI.

Strategy & Solution

The AI Services team of ELB Learning, headed by Josh Penzell, got on a discovery call with Debra to best understand the department, roles and responsibilities, learner audience, and more. Over the discovery call, it was determined to lay the foundation and building blocks about AI with the audience. The AI IQ Workshop was the proposed solution that puts the focus entirely on what AI is and how it can be used. The objective was to:

  • Create awareness among the audience
  • Identify the best uses for AI in their job role on a daily basis
  • Embrace AI solutions to enhance performance and productivity

The AI IQ Workshop was rolled out for the entire team. It provided:

  • A hands-on interactive and engaging experience on AI. Activities included were prompt crafting and case study exploration, which fostered critical thinking and real-world application.
  • Skills and Knowledge - Through a comprehensive curriculum, learners gained insight into Large Language Models (LLM), creating an agent, how to navigate and find the best AI tools, and how they can seamlessly incorporate AI into their daily workflows.
  • Insight into AI ethics and security - Learners gained critical insights about prioritizing ethical considerations and security in AI deployment, while ensuring responsible usage.

Further, short eLearning courses on the same topic were also created by ELB Learning for Rakuten’s audience. 


The word about the L&D department embracing AI spread to the other departments within the global organization. Other leaders were very keen to introduce the AI IQ workshops for their team members and explore different ways it could help. Over the course of 8-10 workshops, about 500 learners benefited. 

At the same time, Rakuten created its own LLM based on ChatGPT, and the IQ Workshops gave insights into this very tool. There was immediate application of the knowledge gained while navigating the brand new LLM, and more and more learners started getting really comfortable working with AI. Learners were effectively upskilled and were able to acclimatize easily with the tool as it was being introduced into the ecosystem. The tactical information they were exposed to in the IQ workshop supercharged adoption of a new learning approach without any fear of change. Learners enjoyed the challenge of thinking more innovatively and discovering how AI can help them. There is a clear transformation underway. 

ELB Learning now works with Rakuten to provide more in-depth consulting, explore more AI tools for the company and build eLearning courses that support the mission to leverage AI across all domains. Through this effort and foresight, Debra’s L&D department has established itself as a thought leader to drive innovation and excellence across the organization. Her L&D department has essentially become the center of an AI transformation.

Before the AI IQ workshops: 78% Felt Uncomfortable with using AI and creating prompts
After the AI IQ workshops: 86% Felt Comfortable with applying their new prompt engineering skills 
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