As Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is expected to be led by ICTs such as AI, robots and biotechnology, technologies for collecting, analyzing and making use of big data are must-hove tools. Though the Korean government has been opening up government data to the public by implementing Government 3.0, still much needs to be done to turn open government data (OGD) into commercial and industrial values. To revitalize the big data industry through Government 3.0 and usher in Industry 4.0 through big data utilization, The Korea IT Times arranged a meeting between Chairman Chang Kwang-soo of the Forum on the Future of Big Data and DataStreams CEO Lee Young-sang.
Chang: I think big data would take center stage in Industry 4.0. Data gathered though the IoT, cloud computing, wireless communications, etc. is stored in the cloud and giving people access to the data is the key to Industry 4.0. How do Korea’s data technologies compare with developed countries’
Lee: Korea is the world’s best when it comes to technologies for physically creating data and enhancing credibility by using the data. Big data is divided into software, data, analytics and areas where data scientists engage in. The Korean big data industry’s weakest link is the areas for data scientists. In other words, we are poor at capitalizing on intellectual property in our daily lives or doing business.
Chang: Are you referring to technicians who analyze and make use of data as data scientists
Lee: Yes. To help data scientists prove their worth and make the most of their knowledge, you have to give them money and authority and let them make business decisions. To do so, we have to acknowledge their professionalism and lay the foundation for them to do what they do best.
Chang: Please tell us about how advanced developed countries’ big data technologies are.
Lee: Big data technologies come from innovative companies. When the Internet became mainstream in Korea around 2000, few companies showed an interest in detailed data on users’ Internet use, such as most-visited websites and areas of interest. Besides, obtaining such data was costly, so companies simply shrugged it off. However, Google and Yahoo went about analyzing the data. They developed big data technologies for over a decade, using open source technologies. They obtained knowhow on big data technologies. As many people used open source platforms, flaws were easily detected and fixed. Their big data technologies are too far ahead for Korean companies to ever catch up.
Chang: Big data is about getting into broadband networks and forming clouds and sharing through mobile communications. In that sense, S. Korea has a competitive edge over the US. Though you said our data collection, processing and visualization technologies compares unfavorably with American technologies, my view is that our willingness to tap into data is not strong enough.
Lee: The US big data industry is not carved up between large institutions and big companies. SMEs and startups are using a variety of new technologies. As for crowd funding, anyone can raise funds and create innovative business models. The US has a level playing field where even a large company could be edged out by a small business. However, we seek after administrative convenience and fewer civil complaints, consequently smothering the flames of innovation.
Chang: Since we have advanced ICT infrastructures, such as e-government services, we could do better in big data than the US. The Personal Information Protection Act also served as a drag on the development of the big data industry. Last July, six government ministries came out with measures aimed at turning personally identifiable information (PII) into non-PII, as well as guidelines. Once PII turns into non-PII, companies can use the information without any consent, so companies could benefit from the measures.
Lee: Take a financial company for example. Different business divisions under the holding company can share customers’ personal information needed for marketing as long as they have obtained consent. However, personal information is not shared among public institutions. Thus, I think the government is moving in the right direction. The problem lies in the integration of data held separately by the central and local governments. They have been collecting data separately using different channels, so it is hard to make use of their data. Such an issue should be considered in drawing up a bill on the promotion of big data. Then comes the issue of governance. Rules on authority over data and ownership should be made to draw up data policy and standards and secure data quality and credibility. However, we have yet to have a strong data governance framework.
Chang: Is there any way to upgrade the big data industry by exploiting Government 3.0
Lee: Government 3.0 should be rejiggered based on experts’ opinions in order not to serve as mere window dressing. When we visit websites created under the OGD initiative, we can have very limited access to data. With only a limited amount of data available, those who want to analyze and use government data will never be satisfied. And there is no data navigation system. Users find it hard to find the exact data they want to see. There is a lack of good metadata. So many different data standards are used, so analyzing data in different formats is a challenge. Users aren’t sure about whether some datasets are of good enough quality to use.
Chang: To systemically open up government data and ensure efficient data utilization, the government is trying to implement a Data Act. Also, the Open Data Strategy Council is in operation. You probably believe that the government’s OGD efforts aren’t effective enough. Dependence on APIs could delay data updates. Above all, data standardization is in poor shape, so the issue of data credibility is worrisome.
Lee: To address such problems, we have to adopt metadata technologies. We have no management system for metadata creation and storage in place.
Chang: How is your company’s foreign market entry going
Lee: To export software to foreign markets, it’s important to work together with customers. We need to carry out innovative projects successfully to ship software overseas because foreign consumers have lots of options to choose from. They consider more than the product itself. Big data and open sources are widely available. Big data is not a stand-alone technology. It is an extension of existing data. Our technological focus is on extending existing data to big data. Large companies like China’s Alibaba and Tencent have developed their own big data technologies, so there are lofty barriers to entry. And SMEs’ demand for big data technologies is almost nonexistent. So the market is pretty much tough. After all, big data is knowhow, so we need to keep our knowhow clear cut and well-articulated and make marketing efforts. Our strength lies in data reorganization, data compression and quantification of qualitative data.
Chang: Communication with customers and product customization seem to be very important. What else does your company do to attract investment
Lee: I will meet with resellers in China next week. After attending a conference, I will also meet with a prospective Chinese investor in Shanghai. Then, I will go on a business trip to the US to meet with officials from a national agency that is interested in metadata management. In Florida, I will have one-on-one meetings with chief data analysts from large companies and hold panel discussions. After that, I will meet with officials from US branches of Korean banks to discuss ways to spur on Korean banking systems’ entry into the US market. In addition, an IR presentation is scheduled to take place at an investment company in Chicago. Lastly, we should bear in mind that developing the data industry requires more than just implementing policies. We need to go through market-oriented structural changes.