SEOUL, KOREA - In this knowledge-based modern society, the value of data, the so-called crude oil of the 21st century, has basked in great attention.
Above all, under the South Korean government’s creative economy initiative, big data, as the source and material of creations, has been creating new values by converging with other industries. As a matter of fact, the scope of big data use is enormously wide. The bombers responsible for the Boston Marathon terror attack in April was arrested in just four days by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wielding the big data weapon. Furthermore, the Barack Obama presidential campaign team, which heavily tapped into SNS analysis systems and voter management systems, was assured that Barack Obama would win a second term as US President.
Judging from such cases, it is estimated that there will be a huge gap between companies who exploit big data technology and those who do not in terms of competitiveness in the future. This is true of public institutions holding stockpiles of data. However, when all the industries, let alone the software industry, discard their old paradigms in favor of new ones, the S. Korean government will make headway in its creative economy initiative. In other words, when the software industry becomes capable of addressing its current problems and creating new markets, big data technology, deemed as the next big thing in the software industry (which is an important cog in the creative economy initiative), will prove its worth.
Economic democratization plants creativity, the seeds of the creative economy initiative.
Creation, the centerpiece of the creative economy initiative, means making something out of nothing. A case in point is the resounding success of South Korea, then infrastructure-deprived, in building a labor-intensive manufacturing industry and in manufacturing automobiles during the industrialization period of the nation. However, what is important now is to have a clear understanding of what kind of creations we have to make from now on. If so, how different are the creations of the future from the ones we made in the past “Resources are limited, but creation is infinite,” the late Tae-jun Park, the founder of POSCO, once said in his attempt to describe the value of imaginations. Efforts to stretch our imagination for creation should be preceded by the creation of ideas in an environment where fair trade based on a culture of mutual respect is ensured by a combination of human-centered ways of thinking, economics and politics.
Simply put, economic democratization should be achieved by instilling a culture of mutual respect in conglomerates’ trade with SMEs. In other words, the promotion of economic democratization will lead to providing both conglomerates and SMEs with opportunities to respect the other side’s rights and think autonomously. When autonomy is ensured, people can have brainstorms and make creations, thereby fueling economic growth.
Respecting the other side’s rights and building a culture of mutual respect constitutes fair trade. There has been an abnormality in the structure of South Korea’s software industry: too many software engineers work freelance. This is because of unfair trade between conglomerates and SMEs. When conglomerates do business with SMEs, conglomerates always get the upper hand over contractors, namely SMEs. Then, software engineers working for the contractors end up being the underdogs. That’s why software engineers turn their backs on the software industry. Due to such a deplorable industrial structure, excellent human talents refuse to build their careers in the software industry, inevitably downsizing the entire software industry. If the status quo persists, there is no future for the domestic software industry.
Software is written by people and is a form of intellectual property (IP).
Software is written by people, so valuing human talents is all important. Creative human talents can grow to their potential in an environment where the rights of each software engineer are respected, their efforts are properly rewarded and their passion for software is fired up. Also, the ideas hatched by software engineers should be protected in the form of intellectual property (IP) rights.
A few conglomerates have tightened their grip on the S. Korean market and snatched up technologies developed by SMEs without paying them money. Things have gone from bad to worse. When SMEs submit business proposals to conglomerates looking for contractors, they have to run the risk of having their software and ideas purloined by the conglomerates. Unless ideas are regarded as IP that is protected by systems and regulations, neither the domestic software industry nor the South Korean government’s creative economy initiative will make progress.
When a system that paves the way for small-sized firms armed with brilliant ideas to grow into large companies is put in place, the creative economy initiative will materialize. Since there is still no guarantee that Samsung and Hyundai could continue to be on a roll, South Korea should protect ideas as IP and put them to good use in fostering new industries, which can prop up the S. Korean market in case the nation’s mainstay industries –i.e. semiconductors and mobile phones - give way to China’s ever-growing semiconductor and mobile phone industries.
Nations strong in big data technology are bona-fide software powerhouses.
Since computer systems have been used by both SMEs and global giants, the bottom line is the accumulation of data. Market strategies to leverage data-based knowledge in gaining a competitive advantage over competitions should be thrashed out. The US is one of the nations keen on making the most of data technologies. By the way, the US software industry takes up more than half of the worldwide software market. This clearly shows that a nation that excels in data utilization is also strong in software.
Knowledge is a product of data utilization. And the task of obtaining the information we want by refining mountains of data can be likened to alchemists’ endeavors to change ordinary metals into high-purity gold by getting rid of as many impurities as possible. In other words, searches for the key to the creative economy initiative start with finding ways to process data in a refined manner.
If DataStreams’ data governance technology is utilized in supporting Government 3.0 (the S. Korean government’s new governance paradigm focused on making more public information open to the public) and in carrying out big data projects using big data platforms, the South Korean government can bring the Korean economy into line with the global market trend towards knowledge-driven industrial growth. Furthermore, big data utilization technology is a must-have tool for the nation’s e-government systems, which have accumulated enormous amounts of data over a decade.
In reality, there is unfortunately a hard-to-narrow gap between home-grown big data technology and the S. Korean government’s new paradigm “Government 3.0.” That’s why I believe that offering opportunities to companies like DataStreams is the right thing to do. Yet, I am not sure that domestic software developers will seize such opportunities. Leading South Korean companies have little faith in domestic software developers specialized in big data technology, so they knock on the doors of global titans like IBM and Oracle for big data consultations. Chanting ‘Creative Economy’ does not sit well with the practice of automatically resorting to global household names. It is more of giving promising domestic SMEs a chance to compete with large companies. However, there is no one to do the job. The biggest obstacle to the domestic software industry is the notion that foreign-made software or those developed by large companies are foolproof and always better than those made by SMEs. As a result, home-grown software developed by SMEs is gathering dust on the shelf and the domestic software industry is missing out on growth opportunities.
Turning large amounts of data into knowledge is one thing, simply holding them is quite another. DataStreams’ Data Governance Platform offers a fundamental system whereby the entire process, from the creation and utilization of data to data retrieval, is controlled to enable the user to retrieve certain data he or she wants anytime. Unfortunately, there is no market for our market-ready Data Governance Platform, so we have been denied a chance to contribute to moving the creative economy initiative forward.
The government’s rhetoric about turning the Korean economy into a creative one should urgently lead to immediate action: building a creativity-friendly environment. The S. Korean government needs to realize that top priority should be given to setting up systems that ensure fair trade between conglomerates and SMEs and due rewards for ideas and work towards the creation of new idea-driven industries and markets where SMEs can freely vie with large companies.