Wisdom Collectors and Hope Givers
Information Technology was once the miracle worker of Korea, credited with a boosted GDP, GNP, and number of businesses. Has the IT bubble popped now as some may say, or is it still a treasure trove that requires patient digging? The 2009 IT 21 Global Conference called out "Aye!" on the second question.
Highlights of May 28
The 2009 IT 21 Global Conference was originally expected to be a showcase of stars. Although the original programs were challenged to keep that promise due to the sudden death of former President Roh Moo-hyun, everything managed to remain on schedule. Special Advisor to the President for Science Technology Park Chan-mo made a difficult trip to keep his promise to give out the first keynote speech. The panel discussion on the topic of the ICT New Deal Policy for Job Creation and Economy Regeneration followed Park's speech with a huge number of attendees. Policymakers from network and information communication industry sectors, the executive director of the Green Growth Committee, and a former vice minister of strategy and finance each gave a brief presentation to help the attendees understand the big picture better. "Although IT market is expected to struggle as a whole in 2009, the market penetration of displays has increased by 8.8 percent in the first quarter. Some other areas are picking up their records gradually as well," said Jun Sang-hyun of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. Many audience members were furiously jotting down the statistics and improving areas.
When Park Chan-mo started his keynote speech he said: "Indeed the world is in crisis, but please do remember what Seth Godin said once, ‘Safe is risky, risky is safe.' As long as we don't lose our grip on positive thinking and search for possibilities, there is a key. President Lee Myung-bak often encourages us by saying, ‘It is better to work and make mistakes rather than not working at all to avoid mistakes.' With a futuristic vision and a little sprinkle of optimism, this crisis shall pass."
According to Park, the Lee administration drafted the 577 Initiative in 2008 to support Science and Technology. Jotting the 577 Initiative down may hint at a new research direction for young attendees who seek to be one step ahead. The numbers stand for 5 percent investment in 7 R&D fields including knowledge-based services and convergence. This 5 percent investment in 7 major R&D areas will allow Korea to become one of the top 7 countries in science and technology.
"I've been here only for three hours, and I feel a great hope that grew in me over the hours. I am an engineer majoring sophomore who always questioned how to take just one step ahead. If I am too many steps ahead, that won't bring food to my table any soon. But staying still won't do any good for me either. Hearing the news of economy fall and IT saturated market left me with no motivation to study further and graduate college. But as I was jotting down some notes from some policy makers and Mr. Park Chan-mo, I was shocked to find out the government's desperate areas of research and development. I have decided to focus on my studying in those needed areas to become a needed person in the country when I graduate," college student Kim Jae-woo said during the break at IT 21 Global Conference.
Knowledge-based S&T and Big Science were heavily emphasized in Mr. Park's keynote speech. "Special attention is required for knowledge-based services including medical services, cultural content, and design. We seek software and IT convergence which will contribute a lot to these areas in the near future. The development of atomic power, national defense-aiding technology, and projectiles are also areas that require undying support. Next-generation nuclear reactor technology is also in the process of fast development," he said.
Twice as many global leaders, young engineers, ministers, professors, and students were expected to gather this year at the 2009 IT 21 Global Conference to brainstorm the proper way out of the crisis. As Lee Jeong-bae hoped for young engineers to fully take advantage of this event to gain knowledge and inspiration, fully taken seats full of attendees anchored themselves to chairs to listen to policy directions and outlooks of different fields of IT. "Many guest speakers including Park Chan-mo gave out essential speeches today. I can only imagine what might happen when attendees plant the seeds they have received today," President Lee said at the conference.
Highlights of May 29
"I was very impressed by Miha Kralj's presentation. His presentation had not many words written on each slide, yet the pictures were very symbolic and powerful. I thought his gestures and speaking manner stood out as well. I wonder if those skills are what gave him the professional career almost every one of us desires. I thought I should practice giving out presentations like him if I wanted to fulfill my goal to be an overseas marketing manager in the future," said a female student from Yonsei University.
Indeed a Senior Architect of Microsoft, Miha Kralj, gave a very vivid presentation on the subject of "How will IT change in the next decade?" Kralj began, "I believe I am talking about a very difficult subject to talk about because ten years back, predicting the future was completely different from it is now. That is why the French poet once said, 'the future isn't what it used to be anymore.' Pretty much every prediction has to be revisited every time when we are looking where we are going with IT. As you can see, IT has the power to alter reality. Technology has the power to alter reality."
Kralj started soft by portraying the earlier days of IT and what it is like to be an IT immigrant. However, when the subject spotlighted the present, the convenience of technology was not everything there was to talk about. Miha Kralj raised the issue of the environment that has been suffering due to the development of IT. "Let's look at the major shift in IT which happened. We did the research for a big enterprise that has branches all around the world. You want to buy a server, so you are looking for a global partner to buy a server. If you look 12 years back, there were 24 major global companies to buy servers from. But the problem is those companies are slowly disappearing. There are only 15 here including HP, Fujitsu, Oracle, and so on. Fifty years back in England and America, there were hundreds and hundreds of carbon factories. Today in the States, there are only three carbon factories. And when General Motors declares bankruptcy, there will only be two! Isn't this scary? This is the reality of the normal type of industry we are going through. So when you come down to buy a server by a container, which doesn't sell in terms of units, you have only four customers like Yahoo, only four. You have only three connections going into the container: power, water-based cooling, and macro. The amount of power that is produced in this container is tremendous. The amount of power needed to do it is so big, all the data centers are not buying regular power from the power plants. All of the big data centers are buying industrial power from aluminum factories for a lower price. This means, IT is not a clean industry anymore. IT is now a dirty industry consuming so much power, we produce so much carbon dioxide as the consequence of taking IT as an advantage."
College student and attendee Park Ki-ju said, "I finally got to realize the alert sign of IT that I always have taken for granted, and understood why I should pay more attention to the movement of Green IT. I only thought terms like Green Growth Industry and Green IT were created by the government to help us save energy and electricity bills. I didn't realize what was really happening around the world environmentally due to the development of technology."
Kralj predicted the future of IT industry as well. He mentioned cars as a service, Iceland being well connected with network services, virtualization, cloud enablers that promote new relationships, and many more things like the transition to utility computing as only a few variables that will alter our future according.
"Therefore, think beyond next technology wave tomorrow, review how new trends will impact your business next week, and explore what your job will be in 10 years time in the near future," he encouraged many attendees as he concluded the speech.
Followed by Miha Kralj was the CEO Yoon Tae-sung of Open Knowledge. "President Yoon introduced a system called an open knowledge viewer that collects and analyzes the data in many different areas like health check-ups, patent trends, phone call records, test scores, and election records. "It gave a mere hope to participate in making data analysis software like those when I graduate university in the near future. Out of everything I've learned and heard so far, this was the most striking information to me and motivated me to learn more about it," said a freshman university student at the conference. "Feel the data," Yoon continuously asserted, "and terminate the disturbing elements that block you from feeling data. Well organized data maximizes mankind's prudence and such data turns into the treasure of the knowledge business."