CEOs urge innovation, research in new year

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CEOs urge innovation, research in new year

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With external business circumstances turning ever bleak, big firms in Korea are focusing on “technological innovation” and “enhanced responsibility” to prop up their business this year.

In his New Year’s address on Monday, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun urged employees to “start over and resuscitate themselves entirely” based on the lessons from the recall and discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7 phablet last year.

“The growth pace in key markets has been slowing down and political and economic uncertainties from trade protectionism and fluctuating currency have been exploding,” he said, “whereas our competitors have been focusing on key futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in tandem with bold investment.”

The vice chairman said employees should never compromise quality, the foundation of competitiveness, and encouraged them to renew their pride in Samsung.

Kwon stressed the importance of widening the gap with competitors though technological innovation and creating new value by researching the market and customers. This will be possible, he explained, when Samsung establishes a creative and flexible organizational culture.

About 500 executives and employees attended the ceremony at the Suwon Digital City in Gyeonggi. Samsung’s de facto leader and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong did not attend.

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo raised the company’s global vehicle sales target for 2017 by 1.5 percent to 8.13 million units as he delivered his company’s New Year address, an indication of confidence despite the far-from-friendly external business environment.

He proposed enhancing responsibility to tackle challenges and vowed to step up research and development in such core technologies as autonomous driving for future growth.

Koo Bon-moo, chairman of LG Group, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, said the road to success in the past is “no longer meaningful given the new management environment unfolding in front of us.”

He contended that LG staff must “fundamentally change” the business structure to pioneer new paths.

Jo Seong-jin, vice chairman of LG Electronics, meanwhile laid out a blueprint for the tech company that has seen increased competition with Samsung in smartphones as well as home appliances.

LG will combine such latest technologies as the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and cloud with existing products and create a business paradigm that will serve as the company’s future growth engine. LG announced earlier in the day that it would unveil three robots at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, proclaiming its entry into robotics.

Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, the nation’s third largest conglomerate, also stressed “deep change,” which will be achieved only if the employees arm themselves with bold spirits, upgrade organizational and cultural structures and innovate business models.

Kim Seung-youn, chairman of Hanwha Group mentioned the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, a buzzword recently favored by the Korean business community that refers to the fusion of the physical, digital and biological spheres.

“The technological revolution that tears down the boundaries between industries is leading us to a new future,” he said. “We need to preemptively improve corporate environment ahead of the arrival of soft power revolution era. We should read the flow of changes such as decrease in production population set to begin this year and reflect it in our mid- and long-term businesses.”


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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