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Industry 4.0 and what it means for VN

Update: December, 06/2016 - 07:00
Vũ Hoàng Liên
Viet Nam News

Vũ Hoàng Liên, Chairman of Việt Nam’s Internet Association speaks to the Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper about what the Fourth Industrial Revolution means for Việt Nam.

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production. The Second was about shifting into electric power and machinery manufacturing. The Third saw a breakthrough in using electronics and information technology to automate production. The Fourth Revolution is a new concept. It is expected to create a wide range of new technologies and products as a result of associations between physics, digitalisation and biology. It is also expected to create connections between real and virtual worlds. This revolution could change all industries, manufacturing and management systems.

The nature of this revolution is to create virtual information-based networks to connect human beings, machinery and the real world through five senses. The most typical connection between the real and the virtual so far is the Internet of Things (IoT). Take Pokemon Go as an example. The game features a virtual world that humans can interact with. If this kind of interaction can evolve, it will have immense impacts on social life.

How will the Fourth Industrial Revolution affect businesses?

Businesses will have two kinds of opportunities in this revolution. They can either produce equipment and solutions along with the trend of the revolution or apply equipment and solutions of the revolution to serve their business.

Manufacturing enterprises such as IT and electronics firms have big chances to produce new software and invent new equipment. Precision mechanics firms can also produce sensors and remote controls to serve interactions between real and virtual worlds.

However, the real development opportunity is for those who apply the achievements of the revolution. For example, a company offering driving lesson services currently needs to use real cars. But in the future, they may only have to use tools for learners to practice in a virtual world. Such a system is particularly helpful in aircraft and spacecraft driving lessons. Or with new technologies, enterprises can make products from 3D printing technology or make self-driving automobiles.

If Việt Nam is to take advantage of this revolution, how should the country’s economic and social environment change?

Sadly most of our industries are still at the second revolution. This does not mean we do not have electronics or IT products, but they are still weak in quality and quantity. As I mentioned earlier, the fourth revolution may change the world comprehensively. If we are to make use of this, we must reform our economy.

First, we need to create motivation for enterprises, such as creating favourable conditions or legal frameworks so they are confident to join the revolution.

Changing social awareness is also important, because if people are not educated and knowledgeable, technological intelligence can be turned into a harmful tool which has negative impacts on society and users, despite the goodwill of producers. The Internet of Things, for example, may become very dangerous if not controlled by legal and ethical guideline.

Where are the opportunities for Vietnamese businesses from industrial revolutions?

We can advance to the third industrial revolution because electronics, information technology, and online services hold great opportunities for Vietnamese people. In fact, Việt Nam already has big firms in technology which are beginning to spread their wings. If we can grasp the opportunity we may witness big leaps and catch up with the world. This requires the State to offer a ‘helping hand’ in creating supportive policies for enterprises to develop. Second, technology experts need to assume their roles and then comes the involvement of investors and financiers.

New industries are in dire need of young generations and start-ups. Because developing this type of business does not require big scale, it is not limited by age, space, social relations, social positions, and even financial capability. Therefore, related parties should provide more information and knowledge to raise awareness of young people so that they can see opportunities and gain more confidence to be part of industrial revolutions. — VNS

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