South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance with the Korea Startup Forum held this year’s Digital Economy Forum 2020 (DEF2020) on Friday, under the theme of “POST-CORONA DIGITAL ECONOMY – Accelerating Digital Transformation for Genuine Innovation.”
The forum focused on four major topics, including Digital Transformation and Policy, Work and Job, Healthcare, and Entertainment and Media.
“Structure changes in the economy are widening. Thus, the importance of the digital economy cannot be too much emphasized.”
– Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Hong Nam-ki, giving in his opening remarks for the DEF2020.
In his welcoming remarks, Korea Startup Forum Chairman Seunggun Lee outlined the forum’s content, introducing the sessions and their respective topics.
Keynote Speech (Part 1): The Power of Exponential Growth to Digital Transformation
The first keynote speaker Peter Diamandis discussed the exponential growth of technologies in various fields such as sensors, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, VR and AR, synthetic biology, and blockchain. According to the founder of XPrize Foundation, the convergence of two or three of these technologies would reinvent every business model and ecosystem.
“COVID-19 has taught the whole world the power of exponentials.”
The rapid development of AI in different sectors would allow companies to grow and compete in the future. Additionally, Peter said that countries, such as South Korea, should become agile to adapt to each industry’s fast-changing technologies.
DEF 2020 Session 1: Digital Transformation & Policy
The first session discussed the digital transformation and its related policies in the public and private sectors.
Taesik Yoon, Director for Policy Coordination at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, discussed South Korea’s digital economy ecosystem and trends, specifically the “Digital New Deal.” He said that the digital transformation in the public sector would come in phase by phase, starting with non-contact services, followed by blockchain, and the completion of a nationwide 5G and cloud services network.
Avrind Gupta, co-founder of Digital India Foundation, said that India’s digital transformation includes a platform that would help the public sector cope with the pandemic. The service comprises of digital identification platform, a paperless system, and a unified payment interface. He added that they also focused on a digital stack that provides greater accessibility that would make contactless transactions easier.
Meanwhile, for the private sector, Heejae Ahn from Bain & Company expects that digital transformation would increase productivity and shift businesses from income-driven to capital-driven. He added that the shift would also increase profit. However, the labor pool would decrease due to automation.
“Technology has downsides sometimes, but it also creates a lot of opportunity for personal growth and growth as a civilization.”
-Christos Makridis, Digital Fellow of MIT Sloan School of Management
DEF2020 Session 2: The Future of Entertainment and New Media
The second session talks about the transformation of entertainment and media in content consumption and creation during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
CEO and Co-founder of AmazeVR, Steve Lee, started the session by discussing “The Future of Concert,” using VR/AR technology. For example, BTS’ “Bang Bang” Concert allowed people to enjoy content through VR. Steve added that VR/AR would become the new medium to create new entertainment during the new normal.
As more people stay, work, exercise, and learn from home, content streaming would become the future of media, according to JaeKwon Son, Ceo of media startup The Miilk. He predicts that in the future, media companies, such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Max, would get into a streaming war as they capitalize on the contactless environment. Streaming would also branch out to contents such as educational and fitness videos, travel, and commerce.
Meanwhile, Jinha Lee, Co-founder of SPATIAL, added that media would come to the space of VR, making social experiences immersive.
Keynote Speech (Part 2): COVID-19: Digitally Induced Structural Change
Andrew Wyckoff, Director of Science, Technology, and Innovation at OECD shared his insights on the solutions and strategies related to the digital economy in the time of digital transformation and contactless economy. Wyckoff discussed three concepts that affect digital transformation policy in the context of structural change and COVID-19.
First, “Scale without Mass” allows companies to reach a global scale with no physical footprint. He said that the lack of a physical footprint runs counterintuitive to policymaking, such as taxation or labor laws. Second, “Panoramic Scope” challenges policies based on traditional sectoral/product lines, creating multi-sided businesses, leading to complications in implementing regulations.
Lastly, “Intangibles as the New Source of Value” challenges policies directed at the capital, such as tax incentives, accounting rules, and trade policy.
Wyckoff added that the COVID-19 pandemic is a catalyst for the digital transformation. The demand for “social distancing” has affected mobility, real estate, and product distribution. However, it accelerated the surge of internet usage, e-commerce, teleworking, e-learning, entertainment, and cloud computing.
DEF2020 Session 3: “Works and Jobs Under the New Normal”
Veikko Väyrynen, Vice President of Aaltoes, moderated the third session of DEF2020, which discussed technological changes in work life in the post-coronavirus era.
Joseph Kim, Head of Robotics Business at Woowa Brothers, predicts that remote work would become the new normal in the digital economy. He added that some jobs such as food delivery could be replaced by robots. Petri Myllymaki, Vice Director at the Finnish Center of Artificial Intelligence, believes that COVID accelerated the digital transformation that was already ongoing even before the pandemic.
Claned CEO Vesa Perala believes that as the work environment quickly changes, especially with automation, people should have the capability to adapt to the new normal. However, Petri also believes that jobs, such as taxi drivers, would change but not be entirely replaced by AI.
Donghwan Kim, CEO of 42MARU, said that work-life would still differ for every sector even with digital transformation and the post-corona era.
DEF2020 Session 4: Healthcare in the Post-Coronavirus Era
Moderated by Sameer Pujari, Co-founder of Be He@lthy Be Mobile Initiative at WHO, the fourth DEF2020 session discussed the healthcare industry’s changes and outlook after the coronavirus pandemic.
Brandon B Suh, CEO of Lunit Inc., said that AI could be beneficial in terms of assisting healthcare professionals such as in diagnosing activities. AI would also reinforce and support non-professionals and perform repetitive tasks, which would save time.
Naomi Lee, Senior Executive Editor of The Lancet, said that the big tech and pharma companies should work in synergy with healthcare institutions to hasten the commercialization of medical AI and digital technology. This would also level the playing field and avoid the privatization of such technologies in the future.
Yong Gi Jung of Samsung Medical Center said that tech companies and public and private healthcare institutions should raise their awareness of the importance of healthcare information security. He added that privacy and security of information should be given top priority.