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Industry watch: Will the elites today still be elites 10 years from now?

Colley Hwang, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

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The industry is in desperate need of talents to usher in booming businesses. Each enterprise's HR has been exerting relentless effort, hoping to win the hearts of the young elites. For young people who are new to the workplace need to consider whether 10 years' working experience and expertise will guarantee another "job-hopping" chance when he or she gets to 35-40 years old.

In recent years, the industrial environment has been polarized. From the perspective of the manufacturing sector, though "big is great", the manufacturers are caught in the dilemma of the minute division of labor where everyone is a little screw. People once regarded as "elites" are virtually boxed up in a smaller elite community. Overall, the semiconductor industry is an elite industry. It leaves no doubt that we can develop workplace experience, meet dialogue partners, and even explore the value of life in the semiconductor industry. But this level of self-actualization can be achieved by only a handful of people. The narrow door is getting narrower and narrower. How hard should you work to be peerless? You'd like to start your own business or become the industry's respectable "top dog"? This may seem like a sunshine boulevard, but it may as well be a narrow and crooked path!

The other approach is to stick to your area of expertise and spend at least 20% of your time on the knowledge, experience and connections associated with your profession. My new book "Orient Shield," starts with "evolution in diversity" and ends with "matrix thinking." All these are suggestions of ways to capitalize on diverse business opportunities. Many executives who are fully devoted to securing semiconductor foundry businesses or notebook orders may have little spare time to think about deployment strategy in India, ASEAN, the US and Mexico. The traditional staff within the supply chain system is not professional enough to develop such strategies. If we are convinced that "decentralized production mechanisms" are the future trends, macro industrial & economical knowledge which center on technological changes is becoming more and more important.

I have heard many people comment on the ICT industry from the perspectives of macroeconomics. The barriers to understanding the industrial structure are considerably high from this viewpoint. On the contrary, it may be quite a feasible way to understand the dynamic changes of macroeconomics from the perspectives of the evolution of diverse technologies and anchor your own thoughts. It won't hurt to try.

Students of engineering majors must learn the business models of enterprises and understand the financial reports. This is what TSMC founder Morris Chang recently said about the "basics" in a speech he delivered at a banquet marking for the 20th anniversary of Monte Jade Science and Technology Association of Taiwan. Likewise, students of business majors need to understand the features of computing and data storage. They may go one step further for basic concepts of quantum technology and industrial contexts metaverse represents. These technologies may sound all Greek to students of business schools and liberal arts. It is not so difficult as it seems to understand these essentials, even though these involve intricate technical essence and are shunned by most people reluctant to take a step further!

As for the friends in the traditional financial sector, they may need to spend a bit more time understanding the trends in the ICT industry. The senior top dogs are always afraid to learn new tricks. As the industry is surrounded by ever-changing diverse environments, the top management needs to keep well informed and show their resourceful and dynamic leadership. But many top dogs are afraid of making mistakes or reluctant to challenge new topics for fear that they find themselves behind the times. They tend to reject learning new things, which often becomes an obstacle to the progress of enterprises.

Colley Hwang, president of DIGITIMES Asia, is a tech industry analyst with more than three decades of experience under his belt. He has written several books about the trends and developments of the tech industry, including Asian Edge: On the Frontline of the ICT World published in 2019, and Disconnected ICT Supply Chain: New Power Plays Unfolding published in 2020.
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