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The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) concluded its 58th Workshop Meeting (WSM) of Heads of National Productivity Organizations (NPOs) with the Global Conference on The 4th Industrial Revolution and the Future of Productivity. The global conference also marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Korea Productivity Center (KPC), which hosted the three-day WSM in Seoul, 24–26 October 2017.
The conference was attended by over 400 participants, including NPO and agriculture delegates and advisers; and observers from the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific, and Romanian Ministry of Business, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and Ministry of Regional Development. Senior executives from the KPC and corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, and Fifth Era shared perspectives and experience on how technology was driving change and innovation. The speakers also described business strategies and solutions that could ease the transition of both large and smaller companies to the Industry 4.0 era, digitally transform to harness innovative trends, and succeed in the economy of the future.
Delivering the opening remarks, KPC Chairman and CEO Dr. Soon Jick Hong stressed that the world was at a critical turning point of the 4th Industrial Revolution that was rapidly impacting society: “We have to pursue innovation-centered productivity enhancement that can maximize output and help in value addition by leveraging the newer technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things, which, in turn, can lead to overall economic growth.”
Highlighting the role of the KPC in improving national productivity over the past 60 years by adopting advanced technologies and introducing new methods, Dr. Hong said that the organization would continue to focus on enabling companies to maximize the benefits of the technology revolution, in line with the government’s innovative growth policy. “We will spread core technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution through the country’s SMEs to enhance the overall productivity of the economy,” he stated.
Congratulating the KPC on the 60th anniversary of its founding, APO Secretary-General Santhi Kanoktanaporn believed that the global conference demonstrated its sustained commitment to developing excellence to tackle the challenges posed by the changing dynamics of the new-age economy. He stated that the KPC had demonstrated the APO spirit of mutual cooperation by organizing the conference along with the WSM to allow delegates from other member countries an opportunity to obtain a better grasp of the cutting-edge innovations that underpin productivity growth.
“In this era of digital transformation and technology-driven disruptions, we need to adopt new economic, productivity, and business models to shape the world and make our economies future-ready. This is also important from the policy aspect to implement lifelong learning initiatives that reskill the workforce and prepare it for the Industry 4.0 Revolution,” the Secretary-General noted.
Dr. Santhi also mentioned that the APO was promoting Sustainable Productivity to shape national productivity agendas and help members plan more effectively in an increasingly uncertain global business environment. “Sustainable Productivity is a new initiative led by the APO which leverages foresight as a strategic planning tool. Since it is impossible to predict the future, we should use foresight techniques to shape the future of productivity through concerted actions at organizational and national levels,” he explained.
Speaking on the changing productivity paradigm and resolutions for the future, Fifth Era Co-founder and Keiretsu Capital Managing Partner Matthew Le Merle said that the technology revolution was completely overpowering the global economy and there was a need to plan by keeping technology entrepreneurs and investors at the center. Le Merle advised governments to create conducive environments for technopreneurs and investors, including angel investors, so that they could reap the dividends of the Fifth Era or technology-led Industrial Revolution.
Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies Vice President Dr. Atsushi Sunami explained the progress of Abenomics and concept of Society 5.0 promoted by the government. He pointed out that Abenomics was shifting its emphasis to stimulating innovation through science and technology related to the robotics revolution, AI, and 4th Industrial Revolution. Dr. Sunami described Society 5.0 as characterized by finely differentiated social needs met by providing the necessary products and services in the required amounts, enabling all to receive high-quality services and live comfortable, vigorous lives with allowances for differences such as age, gender, region, or language. He stressed that the Japanese government was pursuing paradigm changes in industry, the economy, and society through disruptive technologies.
The WSM is the annual strategic planning meeting where APO member countries deliberate on the biennial program plan and review initiatives to ensure that they respond effectively to the needs of their economies. A current key APO focus area is building the capacity of member countries for strategic foresight planning, enabling them to anticipate changes in the dynamic global environment.