SEOUL, KOREA — The South Korean government is focused on strengthening the local software industry to be globally competitive by creating a symbiotic ecosystem and promoting a culture infused with young talent. Designated as World Best Software (WBS), the Ministry of Knowledge Economy has taken measures to change the software landscape to promote its success in the global market. However, as global borderless online market economy has grown rapidly, the Korean government began to recognize the importance of software competitiveness and to understand that failing in local software markets means failing in the global export market.
The WBS project, which began in 2010, is a series of twenty-seven projects promoting the established software development infrastructure and raising the overall competitiveness of the local software industry. In order to develop innovative software for the global market, policies are focused on promoting participation by small to mid-sized firms to meet market demands and be profitable. Over the past two years, the MKE has assigned these tasks to be researched and implemented by local firms over three stages in 2013. Since its inception, the project already has developed solutions in the areas of automated traffic toll systems and medical picture-image information solutions ready for exportation.
Among the policy proposals by the MKE is allowing specialized small to medium size firms to flourish and compete with international brands by enhancing their influence in the market. These include establishing a system to place orders to create a network that promotes business. Such measures aim to raise competitiveness among firms. The government also realizes the software R&D sector must be strengthened by raising the curriculum in secondary schools and universities. This includes establishing Meister high schools that specialize in software education and produce talented engineers and founding establishing R&D programs that encourage innovation and competition amongst students and faculty from different schools. The government also realizes it must encourage both software developers and key industries to cooperate and work in synergy with each other through the creation of a privately-led next generation open software platform and centers promoting innovation in various information technology fields.
With the rapid changes taking place in the field of IT, industry focus and public policy have shifted from hardware to software particularly in the mobile platform field. Raising the competition amongst firms stabilizes the industry by creating niche markets from firms to build upon. The MKE software R & D tries to focus its policy on “human-friendly software,” big data, and cloud computing. Particularly open system platforms, such as Android based software, have been the focus of local R&D with support for the development of a ‘Seed’ configuration open platform. The establishment of such a system allows for sharing of source codes with the global community to create an information network among users and developers. The success of SW R&D will largely depend upon the creation of a diverse R&D program for manufacturers, researchers, educators and developers to benefit from and offer their feedback. Once in place, the system should yield advancements in the field of software development to foster innovation and demand for Korean based platforms.
“The Korean government will pursue various policies to improve software competitiveness of Korean IT industry. The government plans to put strict regulations on participation in the public market by large companies and give more opportunities to software SMEs from 2013. An Advanced ordering system will be established and software cost will be decided by the market. The government will also improve regular software curriculum and establish Meister high school to train talented young people in software sector. New software R&D programs will be created, among them including deferred payment survival R&D’ in which only top candidates get paid for their project in an attempt to encourage youth creativity,” Park Il-Jun, Director General for Electronics & IT Industries of Ministry of Knowledge Economy(MKE) told Korea IT Times. “The government is also supporting open software platform driven by private initiatives to create open software ecosystem. For the convergence of key industries and software, various policies including next generation vehicle IT renovation center and the spread of evaluated R & D policy connected to the related companies will be pursued. In today’s IT industry, companies with competitiveness in hardware and software convergence are rising as a strong player. As the focus of IT industry shifts to mobile, competition gets more intense in the smart phone market. Software industry also takes more initiatives as the increasing number of software companies takes over hardware firms and leading hardware companies began to decline. Instead, collapse and convergence of IT industries speed up and business competitiveness is created through the convergence.
To increase global competitiveness of software industry, the government initiated World Best Software (WBS), a large scale software R&D project, in 2010. “WBS project encourages SMEs’ participation and requires demand companies to participate in developing software to make sure it is utilized in the real industry. To develop quality software which meets global standards, the project implements quality management which quantitatively and systematically manages the overall process and outcomes. Even after development, exclusive copyright permission will be given to software firms for the continuous upgrade of software and fostering software specialized firms,” Park said.
An Interview with Park Il-jun, Director General for Electronics & IT Industries at MKE
World Best Software (WBS) is a Korean governmental project that shows the country’s ambition to nurture SW companies with global competence, as Korea is yet to show a software developer competing in the global market.
In its third year, starting from 2010, WBS is currently promoting 27 projects in total including the seven projects launched during the first year, five during the second year, and additional 15 whose project consortium were selected last December. Before predicting the results of WBS projects, Korea IT Times decided to meet with Park Il-Jun, Director General at the MKE, to discuss how the overall project is going to unfold.
Question: Will the WBS project likely leave a huge mark in development of Korean SW
Answer: Unlike the relatively small-scale projects in the past, WBS project is promoted on a large scale, aiming to develop Korean SW that can compete with and gain ground on foreign products in both international and domestic markets. The government has already invested 24 billion won in 2010, 90 billion won in 2011, and about 60 billion won in 2012, with up to 6 billion won of budget for an individual project, so we are expecting good results accordingly.
Question: Give us a big picture in terms of what the government is doing for the development of the Korean SW industry.
Answer: The SW industry does not have any global Korean companies, in comparison to Samsung and LG in the hardware industry, and the small and medium SW companies are sharing the small pie in the limited domestic market. The government has been contemplating as to how we should develop Korean SW and came up with a strategy to establish SW ecosystem. SW ecosystem establishment strategy is about operating professional training program for the SW industry, which is not well structured yet, to provide human resources; support R&D through various projects including SW specialist certification program; while making efforts to create an organic relationship between SW companies and major corporations. In that respect, we are anticipating that the overall picture the government is working on at the moment will produce synergy in the long run as SW catches up and converges with HW.
Question: It is fair to say that Korean SW has been focused on online games and domestic SW - mostly government institutions, banks, e-government system, etc. – so far. And part of the reason seems to be the lack of globalization spirit (including language) of software developers. What do you think
Answer: That is the reason we are promoting WBS project, so that we can encourage the developers to develop SW with the overseas markets in mind rather than limiting the target to Korea. I am sure we will eventually see globally competitive SW if the companies aim at the international markets from the beginning. Also, we are working on a quality management project that will steadily accommodate the technologies to international standards and management system.