Change is coming with the 4th industrial revolution: experts
Here are the opinions of business leaders on what the fourth industrial revolution has in store for Vietnam.
Mr. Benjamin Chow Yee, CEO of Hitachi Systems Vietnam Company Limited
In this current stage of the manufacturing sector, Vietnam is still behind Malaysia and Singapore, which are almost at the robotics or semi-automation level.
Given the high cost, there is also a lack of awareness and understanding among Vietnamese companies in regard to the benefits that automation can bring.
This is not a big problem, however, but rather an opportunity for companies like Hitachi Systems. I believe that once Vietnamese companies see the benefits over a long-term basis, they will be quick to adapt to the trend.
I understand the Vietnamese Government is now looking at Industry 4.0 as a way to sustain the country’s competitiveness. However, the road for Vietnam to enter Industry 4.0 will differ from other countries.
Many foreign companies still see Vietnam within the “China plus one” model, with many companies in China diversifying their operations by adding another location in Vietnam.
Though Vietnam is on a good track, the country should not follow the same path China chose. Instead, it should come up with a different way to approach this revolution.
As the market changes, the economy also has to change. At this point, the direct impact of the fourth industrial revolution on Vietnam’s labor market is still to be seen.
If labor-intensive workers can receive proper training or those labor-intensive industries receive support from the government or the private sector, then workers could move from such jobs and into data management or automation.
Eventually, of course, headcounts will be reduced, but those employed in these industries at the engineering level will end up at a higher technical level.
Among ASEAN countries, Singapore is currently leading in terms of technology application, just as South Korea and Japan are in Asia.
Japan has only started to look into Industry 4.0, so I believe it will take another five to seven years for Vietnam to actually enter Industry 4.0.
Ms. Nguyen Bich Trang, Director of CBRE Vietnam, Hanoi Office
The fourth industrial revolution will not have a direct impact on real estate but will have an indirect impact. Applications in office projects, housing, and other projects with smartphone systems have been used by some investors in Vietnam.
CBRE has also implemented a number of working-space 360 projects in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, which use a large number of digitization technologies to create a better working environment for employees.
In my opinion, shopping malls in the retail segment will also use digital technology to assist people when they come to shop, eat, and use services.
On a global scale, supermarkets are now equipped with self-checkout machines, allowing customers to process their payment by themselves.
Industry 4.0 is a long process and requires Vietnam’s real estate sector learn from other countries around the world. However, we need to apply our own solutions based on our situation and what Vietnam has.
CBRE always wants to apply advanced and trending technologies to guide and spread new ideas and trends in Vietnam’s real estate market.
It wants both investors and customers to have access to new technology. Internally speaking, CBRE has implemented working-space 360, applying modern automation technologies, including at CBRE Vietnam.
Vietnam’s real estate also faces many challenges from Industry 4.0. When digitizing a system at the global level, it initially requires a dense process and heavy workload for each component, especially the IT component, due to the system sometimes being faulty when applied. It’s also hard on human resources. We need human resources with sufficient knowledge and skills in technology.
Mr. Truong Gia Binh, Chairman of the FPT Group
I think the first thing for Vietnam now is digital economic renovation. For example, the government needs to consider whether it permits Uber to officially operate in Vietnam or not, apply tax on Google or Facebook or not, or allow unmanned cars or not, and think about what supporting programs are needed for startups to develop.
There are many things the country needs to do but the most important thing is to be determined. Vietnam is planning to build smart cities and, if successful, I believe the country will be then be successful in approaching the fourth industrial revolution.
In recent years, FPT has actively joined smart city development schemes, especially smart traffic and smart health, and has received positive signals from local authorities.
I think the most important thing is that leaders have a vision about the digital economy. If businesses do not change they will die.
The question is whether it’s sooner or later. Thus, the most important thing here is that enterprises use IT to create competitive advantages. In the future, real-time enterprises and digital enterprises will be more common.
These types of enterprises will have superior levels of competitiveness. All customer feedback and personal needs will be provided by computational tools, not by human beings.
Choosing the fourth industrial revolution means that Vietnam chooses challenges, but it is also an opportunity to grow with advanced countries in the world.
Mr. Dang Viet Dung, General Manager of Uber Vietnam
The challenge for Vietnamese enterprises is that Industry 4.0 is quite new. The revolution is the convergence of three factors - physical, digital, and biological - as it is a combination of data and the Internet of Things (IoT) based on artificial intelligence.
Industry 4.0 will change the nature of many careers and the structure of industries. If we do not move quickly we will lag behind because this revolution is taking place rapidly. For example, most data has been static data in the past, but it is now replaced by dynamic data.
So how can we take advantage of that to serve our customers well? The foundation of this is that we have to make technology become a core part of the organization.
Vietnamese enterprises are not in the habit of turning technology into part of their organizational structure. In order to deal with this problem, we have to build an organization based on data technology.
In my view, Vietnam cannot benefit from the revolution in the short term. Whether it can in the medium term is a major question because it will depend on many factors.
My enterprise has applied technology, big data, and artificial intelligence to build transportation systems that meet supply and demand perfectly at a price suitable to customers.
Drivers also have more job opportunities. In the future, when Uber develops self-driving vehicle technology, the human error rate will fall to the lowest level. Cities do not need many vehicles to meet needs.
I think Industry 4.0 will affect the banking sector seriously. In the next ten years, changes in artificial intelligence and big data will lead to a revolution at banks.
Vietnamese enterprises should determine their actual position to make sound preparations for taking part in Industry 4.0.
They should apply IT as a core function and build a large IT team to build special IT products, from which they can earn revenue.
Mr. Mac Quoc Anh, Vice President and Secretary General of the Hanoi Small and Medium Enterprises Association
Industry 4.0 is an indispensable trend, and in the context of globalization, the faster the race, the greater the competition.
Even before globalization with multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, Vietnam’s goods and services could not compete with foreign counterparts due to backwards technology, small production scale, and a lack of orientation.
Some groups, like Vinamilk and the TH Group, cannot boost the economy and micro and small and medium-sized enterprises.
As a result, the fourth industrial revolution has come closer to globalization, with greater challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam.
Industry 4.0 connects virtual and real systems, IoT, and internet systems. Vietnamese enterprises should update their knowledge about these matters through training programs and implement new technologies.
Knowledge will help SMEs know what to do and identify what their strengths and weaknesses are and the orientation they must take in the next five to ten years.
I would emphasize that preparation is important. Preparation in both knowledge and vision will help SMEs catch up with the trend, even if they only catch up with a small part and be successful.
Mr. Le Dang Doanh, Economic Expert
We can see that the fourth industrial revolution will present Vietnam with both opportunities and challenges.
Firstly, it is motivation for the country to restructure and move from small manufacturing with enterprises only exploiting resources or trading in real estate to get rich. Vietnam’s growth model has reached its natural limitations. Therefore, if we do not improve, we will have to cope with crisis.
In my opinion, the pressure from this revolution will encourage governments and enterprises in Vietnam to change institutions and policies to catch up with other economies in the world.
Cheap labor as an advantage will gradually disappear as machines will replace many labor-intensive tasks.
I don’t think many enterprises in Vietnam clearly understand this fourth industrial revolution.
They think it is quite complex and not real. However, the revolution can be applied in every sector, including agriculture, business, and banking.
Many will be affected by the revolution, but the first will be intellectuals like doctors, lawyers, auditors, and workers in finance sector. For example, robots will welcome patients at hospitals, replacing nurses and receptionists.
Although the revolution will seriously affect Vietnam’s human resources, artificial intelligence cannot make decisions on company strategies or reconcile disputes.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen, CEO of the Garment 10 Corporation JSC
I think that Vietnam can actually be successful in the fourth industrial revolution although it’s likely to be impacted a great deal, especially regarding the employment issue.
But if it actively takes part in this revolution there will be fewer impacts on enterprises. They can still control their business activities; even more effectively thanks to automated technology.
The number of Vietnamese using smartphones and technology is increasing rapidly and is an element that will help the country succeed in the revolution.
If the government, enterprises, and people are determined, the benefits of the revolution can be accessed quickly. If not, the country may only benefit from 30 per cent of the revolution.
The government therefore needs to have more policies to encourage both enterprises and people to actively join the fourth industrial revolution. The way to approach it needs to be simplified.
For example, many Vietnamese farmers are applying technology into cultivation. I think that is also a beginning for the revolution.
In 2008, Garment 10’s business activities faced a range of difficulties due to the global economic crisis but with a motto of “Doing What Others Do Not” we overcame the challenges. So, I think a pioneering spirit is very necessary to access the fourth industrial revolution.
For textiles and garments, it is expected that 86 per cent of employees will be put out of work by automation. But there will still be some things that machines cannot do.
If we stand outside of the fourth industrial revolution, we will die. Enterprises should welcome it and find the best way to develop.
VN Economic Times