On March 13, 2007, the Operations Management Guest Lecture Series sponsored an address by Chang-Gyu Hwang, president and CEO of the semiconductor business of Samsung Electronics. Just one week earlier, Dr. Hwang had hosted a group of visiting Columbia Business School students at Samsung's headquarters in Seoul, Korea. Samsung is the world's second-largest semiconductor manufacturer after Intel, and Asia's second-largest manufacturer by market capitalization after Toyota. Although a large producer of televisions and memory chips, Samsung's semiconductor division is the company's biggest by revenues and profits, with a 30.6 percent operating profit margin in the fourth quarter of 2006. Dr. Hwang joined Samsung in 1989 and has been recognized as one of the "Top 10 Big Thinkers" by Newsweek (2005) and one of the "Top Executives of 2005" by Asiamoney (2006). He addressed several hundred students, mostly from the Operations Management core course, in a discussion of IT trends and supply chain management. Professor Nelson Fraiman, who teaches the Operations Management core course, introduced the speaker.
For the 150 days a year that Chang-Gyu Hwang spends on the road visiting customers and investors and giving lectures, he takes six items with him: his smart phone (with a memory size of 8 GB), an ultra mobile PC (64 GB), a USB drive (8 GB), a digital camcorder (16 GB), an MP3 player (16 GB) and, sometimes, a portable PlayStation (2 GB). As recently as 2002, he carried just 1 GB of memory with him. He used this information to show the veritable explosion in data-storage technology that has marked the early 21st century.
All of these devices are made possible because of advancements in semiconductors, the small electrically conductive chips in all modern electronic consumer devices. Although semiconductors are a small fraction of the electronics industry, since 1997 semiconductor growth has converged with the growth of the overall IT industry. Dr. Hwang expects this trend to continue.
Dr. Hwang described four trends that are leading the evolution in IT, all enabled by semiconductors. The first is content explosion, as seen in the expansion from one- to threedimensional images in phones, cameras and PCs. The second is device convergence, represented in PDAs that encompass phone, TV and PC capabilities. The third is the storage revolution that has produced camera flash cards as large as 64 GB and PC disks of 32 GB. The fourth is the convergence of the aforementioned three trends into devices that are smaller, slimmer, lighter and more functional.