Korea's trading companies are unprepared for 4th industrial revolution: poll

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 24, 2017 - 14:05
  • Updated : Sept 24, 2017 - 14:05
South Korea's export and import firms are woefully unprepared to cope with the fourth industrial revolution that is expected to bring about profound changes to the global economy, a poll by an international traders organization said Sunday.

According to the Korea International Trade Association findings, 83.3 percent of trading companies acknowledged that the ongoing revolution will affect corporate management systems and the way they do business, but only 5.1 percent said they are meeting the challenges.

The fourth revolution is characterized by many technologies in such areas as the digital, biological and artificial intelligence fields all being merged together to bring about economic systems that are different from what people are used to at present.

The findings were based on surveys carried out on 611 companies that shipped more than $500,000 worth of goods annually.
A spectator watches a robot demonstrating a surgical procedure during a Bio & Medical Korea exhibition in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"Of those that said they are aware of the impact, 38.4 percent confirmed they are feeling the effects or expect change within two years, with 44.8 percent expecting shifts and advances three years from now," KITA said.

In particular, 60 percent of companies engaged in mobile phones, shipbuilding, consumer electronics and computer chips said they are aware of the effects of the fourth industrial revolution or expect profound differences to take place within two years time.

The trade association said that because of various reasons, very few local companies are prepared at the moment, with those that think they will be ready in the next one to two years standing at only 11.6 percent.

Among areas receiving the most attention from local companies, KITA said 33.9 percent of respondents said they are paying close attention to "big data," with artificial intelligence and smart robots trailing at 22.6 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively.

On how local companies are responding to the change, 25 percent said they are moving to produce new products, with 20.1 percent setting about new marketing strategies using big data. Companies said they are also paying more attention to research and development, and the hiring of specialized workers.

Reflecting this, KITA said that local companies need to secure reliable information on changes and move to better train its workers. There is also a need for the government to provide tax breaks to R&D.

"In the medium to long term, companies need to move forward on carrying out necessary research and even engage in mergers to give them an edge over rivals," the association said. (Yonhap)