Today is the 29th anniversary of Yuan Ze University. Hope we may take this opportunity to share with you my recent views on the economic situation, and my aspiration for the School’s future developments.
Create Future Advantage
The world is changing so swiftly. To stay ahead of changes in global market place, the business scale should adjust accordingly. For example, in manufacturing industries, securing the supplies of raw materials is very critical. We used to rely mostly on the crude oil exports from the Middle East, yet with unpredictable geopolitics in the Middle East, any drastic change will bring significant impact on the company’s operations. Given that the U.S. may become the world’s largest oil producer in the future, the Group has been monitoring closely for opportunities to invest in USA.
In March 2018, Far Eastern New Century (‘FENC’) has successfully acquired the PTA and PET plants that were currently under construction in Texas, U.S., together with two international partners for US$1.1 billion. Earlier than that, we also won the bid for a PET plant in West Virginia for US$300 million. It is quite challenging to invest in the United States. Even if we won the bids successfully, there are still many issues pending for negotiations. Despite this, we still decide to move forward to be prepared and strengthen our competitive advantage.
Currently, FENC ranks as the world’s largest PET chips supplier; it is also Asia’s top one and among the world’s top 5 polyester producers. FENC is still actively seeking to secure its upstream raw materials in order to provide an overall supply chain for streamline operations. The Group’s over 200 affiliated companies should expedite adjustment and plan ahead to stay competitive in the world.
Join the Global Competition
The world has entered into the era of new economy -- AI, IoT, Big Data Analytics, AR, VR, and robotics, are all indispensable technologies. To evaluate whether an enterprise can keep up in the dynamic era, first priority is its digitization process. If there is not enough digitization, or lack of data analytics capability, it will never be able to compete globally.
For example, as consumers love to enjoy gourmet food, when shopping malls plan their stores, they would particularly focus on food and beverages. We used to presume that after attracting customers to the shopping malls, consumers will spend at other stores after having their meals. However, the Far Eastern Retail Group recently analyzed more than 200 million data, and discovered that customers are usually tired after meals and choose to leave the malls directly. This is only the tip of the iceberg showing the change of consumption behavior. Imagine that, if there is no data analysis, how can we learn the change of their spending habit? How can we grasp precisely customers’ needs, and then change our sales plans? This demonstrates the importance of big data analysis.
Furthermore, in the era of new economy, the retail businesses must move toward digitization and work closely with telecom operators to connect consumer and suppliers end-to-end. When transmitting information, if added with AR and VR, this will help consumers better understand the products. For instance, the store is introducing a multi-functional kitchen appliance which offers various functions including steaming and baking. If not through AR and VR, how can consumers have an immersive experience? How can they understand the diversified functions? How does it look when being displayed at home? To connect all this information would require integration of the retail and telecom industries. The whole process would need readjustment, from merchandise positioning, selection, package, and even in coordination with different channels to adjust visual display, the pricing mechanism, and distribution system. Everything would require transformation and innovation to provide a complete presentation in front of consumers. This is also what the retailers are eager to establish at this moment.
As for the development of AI, it is very important for the manufacturing, retail, and service sectors. During the process, we need to possess innovation spirit, transformation experience, and reorganization to be able to complete.
Exert to Adjust and Upgrade
Recently I have the sense of urgency and believe each person in Taiwan should be aware of this as well. Taiwan used to rank among the Asian Four Dragons, and was in lead of economic and technological developments. Together with high percentage of higher education population, Taiwan produces very competitive talents. However, during recent years, our voice and advantage in the international arena has diminished gradually.
I spoke recently with an Amazon executive about the situation in mainland China. He thinks what China needs now is not management talent, but research and development people. Therefore, many incentives were launched to offer at least 2~3 times higher compensation to attract Taiwan’s talents. However, once the technologies are successfully transferred, the advantage of Taiwan’s talent may no longer exist, it will devastate Taiwan significantly, and affect the developments of Taiwan’s industries negatively. In polyester industry for example, China can get hold of the technology and direction of the R& D of functional fibers as long as it poaches our key research and development personnel. Therefore, both the government and industries should work together for solutions quickly. In particular, Taiwan has insufficient market size and it would need to expand abroad for larger market share. We have to integrate AI, IoT, and Big Data analytics to constitute a complete industrial system, service system, and then connect with other systems to form a larger eco-system and thus converge to higher competitiveness and strength.
The School’s operations also need this sense of urgency. Many people complain that they cannot find jobs after graduation. In fact, many businesses are in urgent need for talents, such as Far EasTone Telecommunications, it is hiring about one thousand personnel in the fields of information technology, business analysis, and innovative product developments this year. Yet, when viewing each company’s recruitment requirements, it is not difficult to find that traditional jobs are becoming less and less, as in the era of new economy, enterprises need not just market sales or event planning personnel, but need manpower who can integrate various types of skillsets. Therefore, in addition to teaching students the basic curriculum, to adapt with the changing business environment, we should also strengthen the required abilities for versatile talents, train the students to learn knowledge and skillsets that are more in line with the needs of the industries, which is not only vital to the development of businesses, but also serves as key to the restructuring of Taiwan’s overall economic structure.
As old saying goes: “At thirty, I established my stand.” “Thirty” marks the end of school learning period, it is the moment to rethink your future direction. Yuan Ze University will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. Hope that you may think comprehensively. Aside from cultivating talents through teaching courses, how the School’s research and training programs may complement the enterprise needs? How to comply with the current needs, changing global environment, and changes in Taiwan’s industrial restructure, to constantly adjust, upgrade, thus enabling Yuan Ze to be more competitive? On this worth celebrating day, please allow me to remind you the importance of “change.” We must continue to seek innovation, changes, and improvements in order to catch up in this era of new economy!＃