Exclusive interview with Dr. CH Cho of the Institute for Information Industry, Taiwan’s Key Digital Transformation Enabler Agency

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The unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 has made digital transformation one of the most urgent global issues. Entering its 41st year, the Institute for Information Industry (III) has positioned itself as a “Digital Transformation Enabler” in recent years, assisting local industries on digital transformation. The key person of this effort is Dr. CH Cho, the CEO of III. 

Dr. Cho has profound industry and academic experiences. Besides serving as the faculty in National Taiwan University and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, he also founded the OLEMAP, INC. and launched a popular online app, UrMap, before GoogleMap become popular. 

While digital transformation is critical, Taiwanese enterprises entered panic mode

According to a survey conducted by the III, the percentage of Taiwanese business owners who believe in the importance of digital transformation is higher than the world average; however, when asked if they are ready to adopt the new mode of operation, the positive ratio is lower than the world's average. With the conflicting numbers, Dr. Cho explained that even though local business owners understand the global trend of digital transformation, they are still unfamiliar and uncertain about the feasibility.

Dr. Cho said that the earlier a company start to undergo digital transformation, the more advantages it could gain in the long run. Companies failed to adopt digital solution in time are less capable to compete with those are well transformed. In the past, the only digitalization strategies most companies adopted were purchasing computers and establishing websites instead of dealing with the actual digitalization nor on the implementation. As the consequences, many companies in Taiwan with little capabilities on digital technology faced serious hurdles when promoting digital transformation. Some of the common issues these companies are facing are the lack of digital talents, confusing on how to initiate, and even its exact needs and goals.

One of the important roles the III plays is to link experts in different fields, match companies with information and communication professionals and connect enterprises and public associations to implement digital transformation. 

Integrate talent training with digital transformation 

To ensure enough number of suitable talents for businesses to start digital transformation, the III established Digital Education Institute and ACE (Architect、Consultant、Evangelist) School. Founded in 2019, the Digital Education Institute has trained over 100 experts and advisers to support businesses on digital transformation, integration of forward-looking technologies and cross-field one-stop digital transformation consulting services and relevant strategies, and has worked with businesses on advanced deployment, improving management, marketing and operating processes from internal to external, and facilitating industries move towards innovation.

Dr. Cho said that it is rather difficult to find suitable talents that also acquired relevant digital technological skills. Therefore, in addition to cultivating talents in this field, the III has dedicated its effort on building a software platform by integrating and matching related software resources in the past years. In addition, the organization also seeks to bring more values to local enterprises by spear-heading the effort to integrate the telecommunications industry into the cross-field industrial ecological chain.

The World Between Us, a successful combination of drama script and big data

A successful example of the III’s consultation service revealed in the script of Taiwanese TV series “The World Between Us”. In 2016, the III, Public Television Service Foundation and the screenwriter of “The World Between Us” cooperated to embark on the experimental method of creating script using big data. This is the first case in Taiwan to apply useful data from huge amount of information and used it as the screenwriter's creative material.

Dr. Cho pointed out that in the past, screenwriters often have to base on the actual in person experiences to create certain scenarios in scripts to make it close to real life. Now with the help of big data, a screenwriter is able to collect effective information for the script. 

The theme of “The World Between Us” is inspired by the topic of random killing. After conducting big data analysis, the production crew discovered that the audience tend to emphasize on media’s role being portrait in the show; therefore, the script was revised to increase the overall proportion of media’s role. With this successful experience, the III cooperated with Public Television Service Foundation again this year on the script writing of another TV series “Who Killed the Good Man”. By using big data to provide more precise and accurate numbers and resources, the new production seeks to create stronger resonance to target audience’s everyday life.

In addition to the successful example above, the III also introduced Digital Twin Solutions for Smart Farming to preserve the professional experience and advanced knowledge of farmers and fishermen. By designing an AI integrated dynamic learning method, this smart farming technology aims to further facilitate cooperation and optimize decision making in related fields. As the one of the recipients of the 2019 R&D 100 Awards, this technology to reduce 50% of the overall cost and raise 30% of production efficiency. 

Dr. Cho pointed out that digital transformation is not a short term progress, but rather a long term commitment. “A new technology usually takes 10 to 20 years to implement because the transformation requires effort and determination.” Therefore, to successfully introduce a new technology, not only business owners have to be determined, but also the access of resources and organizational changes are all essential. To help jump start Taiwan’s digital transformation, the III expects to start introducing relevant implementation in selected enterprises first, and expand the model to the entire industry, and ultimately to replicate it to other industries to form a sustainable and competitive ecosystem.    

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