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Does government have intention of fostering SW industry?2013-06-18Hit:4173

“Creative economy” is actively being discussed by many people these days. I do not want to bring up the subject of creative economy again and argue pros and cons of it here. However, what is clear is that ‘innovation’ should be promoted to achieve creative economy.
Innovation becomes valuable when we come up with new ideas, embody the ideas, and get the outcomes of the ideas in a market. “Innovation is not controllable. The only thing we can do is simply to remove factors which hinder innovation”, the former director of Von Fraunhofer Laboratory in Germany said. It is easy to sympathize with this view. However, we now seem to be going in the opposite direction.
There were few mobile applications which had gained huge popularity not long ago. They can predict bus arrival time and compare the price between gas stations. They also check newsletters from school. All of these applications were created by students in high school and university.
However, public institutions and public companies plagiarized the students’ ideas and launched the same applications. It’s a waste of budget as well as a behavior that kills students’ creativeness and ambition.
There are many other examples of unfair practice. The most notable case is that the government developed software (S/W), which a company had already launched in market and exported overseas, and distributed the software to the public for free. It is a behavior that infringes copyright and hampers corporate activities.
When the government fosters hardware (e.g., electronics and automobile) industries, it sometimes prevents domestic products from being attacked by highly competitive and cheap products of foreign companies. Actually, there are many policies that help domestic products be appreciated well.
On the contrary, the government keeps taking the opposite stance for software industry. For example, On-Nara System (i.e., a governmental system) has developed software that was on sale in the market at that time and distributed the software to the public for free, which has in turn made a serious damage to the company that originally developed the software. The government is also making attempts at the Integrated Control System for disaster management as well as ERP system for national universities.
It is important for government to have the will to cut down budgets. However, we need to analyze thoroughly which one is ultimately the best interest of the country when considering industry promotion and budget reduction at national level. Still, the debate on this issue remains inconclusive.

Some advanced countries with a strong SW industry have actually put tremendous efforts into fostering SW industries. It looks like a desirable example that we should learn.
It is no exaggeration to say that SW industry has first begun from U.S. Defense Department which used to purchase and use software that private companies had developed at that time. It may be asked whether the present status of SW industry can be achieved if IBM didn’t ask MS to pay the price for a unit DOS.
We are not living in a monarch-governed country. The country is operated by taxes of the people. If the government breaks the individuals’ will to start their own business and destroys creative companies, there’s no way for the country to survive. As long as the country is operated by taxes that the people paid, there’s nothing that the government can possess. Except for the information that requires tight control for the national security, the majority of information should be open to the public.
The government should encourage people to pursue innovation. It should start with opening information that the government possesses to the public and removing obstacles that may break the people’s creativeness and hinder innovation.
SW is the core of creative economy, and innovation is the most important factor. The government should lead the movement to protect copyrights and creative ideas in order to promote SW industries.

Eun Kim, Director of Software Management Lab, Professor at the Graduate School of Business and Information Media

eunkim@kaist.ac.kr


Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )
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