South Korean business representatives, policymakers and government officials gathered at the fourth Korea Herald Biz Forum on Tuesday to share insights on new trends of industries in the post-COVID-19 era.
Under the theme “Shape of the Future: Trends to Rule Industries as World Rebounds from Pandemic,” this year’s forum was held at The Shilla Seoul and was livestreamed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the speakers of the event were Lee Jeong-dong, professor of technology management, economics and policy at Seoul National University, who served as a special adviser to President Moon Jae-in from 2019 till May this year; Hong Su-yeol, head of Resource Recycling Consulting; Cha In-hyok, CEO of CJ OliveNetworks and Jeon Jin-soo, vice president at SK Telecom.
The speakers delivered lectures on burgeoning new trends in the wake of the pandemic and those that are expected to reshape the industrial landscape worldwide.
Two main points of consensus among all speakers at the forum were digital transformation and climate change.
Politics and government representatives also called for the importance of digital transformation and environment-conscious business practices.
National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug called on businesses to take action to change under the government’s Digital Green New Deal program.
“Rapid digital transformation and the crisis of climate change are demanding innovations in our lives and in the paradigm of business management,” Park said in his congratulatory speech at the forum. “Companies are responding to those changes by innovating digital technologies and environmental, society and governance management. Hesitant businesses would fall behind, while indecisive countries would lose out.”
Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hye-sook also delivered congratulatory remarks through a prerecorded video.
“As contactless activities have become part of our lives under the pandemic, Korea is witnessing digital transformation accelerate across the economy and society,” Lim said.
Owing to the change, information communications technology was Korea’s biggest export sector in September, the minister pointed out.
“To escape from the COVID-19 crisis, each country is fiercely competing to advance technologies,” she said. “The government is making efforts to establish digital infrastructure to turn the economy digital-based and become a leading digital country.”
James Kim, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, described how US businesses are coping with the changes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate digital transformation. Companies are now utilizing cloud services and virtual meetings more than ever before. Even at AmCham, we are now in complete digital transformation mode,” Kim said.
“Today’s event is a hybrid online-offline format only possible because of amazing technologies from US companies such as AWS, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft,” he continued. “We’re now able to generate bigger audiences with better quality content, across many borders and time zones with more ease and speed.”
“Now in the post-COVID era, we will witness new business models where innovation across the globe will be a game changer,” the chairman added.
In the keynote speech, SNU professor Lee talked about the role of a nation to improve its innovation capability and survive in the rapidly changing environment.
“For nations, technological sovereignty plays a key role in gaining economic security, and we need bipartisan partnership for technological sovereignty and also need cooperation between the government and the private sector,” Lee said.
Hong, head of Resource Recycling Consulting, stressed the need to better understand the concept of a “circular economy,” in which products find new life continuously through recycling, rather than being being thrown away after being used.
“Yet, standards are unclear about what companies need to do for a circular economy,” Hong said. “A wrong direction would only lead to green washing.”
“Companies need to approach to the core of the industrial waste problems they generate through their business activities,” he said.
CJ OliveNetworks’ Cha introduced how the CJ affiliate is rapidly going digital through a variety of projects undertaken at CJ Group in its journey of digital transformation.
SKT Vice President Jeon presented the company’s latest metaverse platform, “ifland,” and discussed upcoming opportunities on the platform that is growing into a new arena of social, cultural and economic activity.