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Service, Future Growth Engine of Korea

Posted August. 29, 2007 07:22,   


‘Service science” is a new academic field that has recently drawn attention from the business community.

Although it is a rather unfamiliar area of study, it regards the service industry whose influence and significance is quickly expanding in modern industrial society as the independent object of study.

The purpose of service science lies in grasping the big picture of the service industry from an organic and integral point of view through other studies such as economics, social science, industrial engineering and computer engineering.

A Dong-A Ilbo reporter met Sogang University President Sohn Byeong-du, who introduced service science, which first started in the U.S. in around 2000, as a regular curriculum of the university’s MBA program this year, for the first time in Korea, for an interview in his office on Tuesday.

“The service industry constitutes more than 70 percent of the entire industry in advance countries like the U.S. and Japan. We desperately need a study that helps us understand the overall picture of the service industry and set guidelines for long-term development strategies,” Sohn said.

Sohn, who served as the Samsung Group senior secretariat and the vice president of The Federation of Korean Industries, has more than 40 years of hands-on experience in corporations. Sohn emphasized the need for a study of the service industry by illustrating changes in the business world.

“Let’s take a look at the automobile industry. In the old days, the only concern of auto companies was selling their products, nothing more. However, these days, they provide financial consulting on installment plans or loans before customers decide to purchase a car and offer additional services such as disposing of old and decrepit vehicles or trade-ins,” Sohn added.

“We’re living in an era where the product is the service and the service is the product. Regardless of the types of business, all the corporations are concerned about enhancing their service competitiveness,” he continued.

He pointed out that IBM and Samsung are good examples illustrating changes in global corporations’ business structure.

“IBM used to be a computer hardware manufacturing company. However, it has transformed into a company that provides comprehensive consulting services on information technology. The company’s service sales have reached more than 50 percent of the total sales. Although Samsung started as a manufacturer, it has added an increasing number of service-related affiliates such as finance or trade-related companies. An increasing number of corporations will follow suit,” he said.

IBM was also the first company to point out the need to establish an academic study about the service industry.

Sohn said that it is natural for businesses to be more active and quick in founding service science as an academic discipline than the academic community.

In Korea, Samsung SDS jointly established the IT service engineering program with KAIST in March to cultivate outstanding personnel and strengthen research collaborations and ties between industry and academia.

Sogang University, which has jointly launched a science service degree program with IBM, has been classifying the entire service industry by types of business in an attempt to analyze what each type of business desires from the new study.

Sohn is also planning to establish a service science research institute to supplement case studies and strengthen the field-based academic expertise with the help of the industry-academia cooperation.

“If you ask how important service science will be as an academic area in the future, I’d say that it will be a much more influential study than computer science of today,” Sohn said.