7 Mega Trends in Information and Technology Industry

Article excerpt

Around 1,500 years ago, humans believed the earth was center of the universe. Even 500 years ago, they believed the earth was flat. Just 50 years ago, they didn't have a clue what a personal computer was, and five years ago, the acronym IT was a rare term for most people around the world.

In view of such examples of conventional wisdom throughout history, it seems impossible to predict the forthcoming technological trends and business models in the information technology (IT) sector.

However, no matter what happens in the IT sector over the next 12 months, one fact is indisputable. The IT industry will be one of the few bright spots for economic growth thanks to continued demand spawning from the ongoing digital revolution worldwide, although growth will slow significantly even in that sector.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, this year's gross domestic product will likely slow to 5.3 percent this year from an estimated 9.3 percent last year and from about 11 percent in 1999.

In addition, dwindling exports are expected to halve the current account surplus, causing it to fall between $5 billion and $7 billion this year from a surplus of $10 billion last year.

But, the IT industry accounted for nearly 25 percent of exports last year and it is expected to contribute even more in the near future, becoming a driving force for the Korean economy.

After two weeks of screening and analysis, The Korea Times settled on seven trends for the IT sector for this year.

Over the past three years, the IT sector -- mobile telecommunications, personal computers and Internet -- has led the country's rapid economic recovery with an average annual growth rate of up to 20 percent following the 1997 financial crisis.

Market analysts, however, predict about 10 percent growth for the IT industry, in the face of slackening financial restructuring, increasing energy prices and the expected hard landing of the American economy.

In light of such forecasts, shrinking economic volume could hurt many upstart dotcom companies and will likely spark another race to survive in an already burgeoning IT industry.

Nevertheless, the IT sector will be poised with an alternative business model beyond the slowly dismantling chaebol structure.

------------------------------------------

Interactive Voice-Response Internet

Despite it's futuristic sound, voice-recognition technology isn't all that new as it was originally introduced 15 years ago, but only now is its application becoming mainstream.

``The great thing about the voice-based revolution is that unlike the Internet browser and the wireless application protocol (WAP) telephone, people don't have to be trained how to use it,'' said

Choi Song-sun, an executive director of Voiceware Co., a local voice software maker.

The convergence of voice and data on the Internet has long been anticipated.

Last year major local Internet portal sites, such as Yahoo! Korea, Daum and

Simmani announced that they are attaching the function of voice access to their portals.

In 2001, these ``voice portals'' are expected to become one of the fastest- growing trends on the Web. Accessing e-mail or information using a phone and voice commands are the latest aspects of this system.

Unlike the current immature voice-recognition service, which can respond to such simple sentences as ``open the site'' or ``read the headline,'' a Voice Extensible Markup Language (VXML)-based website is able to implement more complicated orders like ``read the article on the opening ceremony of last summer's Sydney Olympic Games.''

In order to make a voice-recognition website, Internet contents providers should build their homepage based on VXML.

Four multinational telecommunications giants -- AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies and Motorola -- launched the VXML format in March 1999 in line with the emergence of voice-and phone-enabled Internet access market. …