Building technology is a
team sport

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Itochu Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC), a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, is an ambitious thought leader in the future of cloud-based modernization and application development. Seeking to accelerate digital transformation for their Japanese customers, CTC engineers worked side-by-side with Slalom Builders to learn our Product Engineering Methodology (PEM) by creating a revolutionary translation application using modern cloud platform technology. After the collaboration with Slalom, CTC went on to establish their own successful Build Center service in Japan.


Build Center Ops, Culture Transformation, Agile Methodology, Cloud-Native Development, Application Modernization, Experience Design


AWS, Dynamo, Amazon SQS, AWS CodeBuild, AWS Cognito, React Native

Building a dream team

CTC pushes the limits of innovation and cloud migration for customers throughout Japan. They continually seek faster, more flexible solutions that give customers a competitive advantage within their industries and verticals. To this end, CTC wanted to develop a more systematic and repeatable way to build high quality products with greater speed and agility than ever before. CTC engaged Slalom Build to learn our Product Engineering Methodology (PEM) to help them build modern capabilities, create a culture of collaboration, and develop innovative products for customers.

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CTC sent a team of seven engineers to Seattle to immerse themselves in PEM, focusing on the key roles of collaborative product building: Solution Owner, Solution Architect, Experience Designer, Software Engineer, Quality Engineer, and DevOps Engineer. With these functional areas aligned, they saw first-hand that product building is a team sport. See, while some businesses leave it to developers to take on all of this work, we believe that products built by those who specialize in each area, are built with greater efficiency and scalability.

When data engineers, designers, architects, and automation & machine learning experts come together, they can create everything from cloud modernization to consumer-facing mobile apps, building deeper capabilities with each new product built.

Discovering a purpose

During the Discovery Phase, CTC worked with us to ideate and design a mobile application that would translate conversation in real-time across multiple languages. We held a series of discussions to set the product vision, features, bells and whistles, platform, and technology. With user stories as the starting point, we created a product backlog and clickable prototyping to bring life to the vision. We defined the scope of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), created a roadmap for the application, and prepared it for development. And equally as important, CTC was honing the skills required of each role, learning by doing every step of the way.

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Developing the team

In the Development Phase, the scope of responsibility for each role was further clarified as the team continued to work together. Each person in each specialized role began to realize the same mindset and vision, which allowed them to work together seamlessly—both in their individual capabilities as well as within the greater group. Through this experience, CTC gained deep insights on the importance of a team culture, building relationships with customers, and collaboration. This is the very foundation of Slalom Build culture and efficacy. They learned how this type of organizational structure provides increased agility, velocity, and camaraderie, all of which are deeply necessary to be successful in the highly uncertain nature of product development. It was a significant cultural as well as practical shift.

An MVP in the making

In order to function as a team, CTC members took the lead in the second half of the project and eventually created a serverless architecture translation app using ReactNative front end for both Android and iOS. The back end was on AWS and used Slalom Build’s accelerator, a microservice-out-of-the-box solution that gave us serverless best practices by default, including infrastructure and a CI/CD pipeline.

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For the MVP translator app, this meant that near real-time speech could be translated directly to whatever language is set on the iOS or Android device. A significant advancement for a cross-cultural team like ours.

Getting the app usable and into production took several weeks of side-by-side building. By the end of our time together, CTC and Slalom Build created a fully functional mobile translation app, ready for production.

Bringing it home

CTC’s road to speed and agility was built on team-based innovation. Their immersion in the Slalom Build Center provided the information, dexterity, know how, and deep personal connections that helped transform their organization from the inside out and accelerate the speed at which they deliver complex innovation to their customers.

Upon returning to Japan from Seattle, CTC established its own version of a Build Center, called “CTC build service”. CTC build service has been incredibly active in the marketplace, working with multiple new clients across Japan. We could not be happier with their success.

What it boils down to is simple: Immersion. Collaboration. Transformation. PEM provides the foundation to create great things, which is why we open-source our thinking and methods to help companies align on innovative product development. And help build Builders all over the world.

Next Up

From Seattle to Seoul: a Build Center in a box