Michael Lee '77 Presents C. Richard Smith Lecture

April 13, 2010

In the global market place today, the United States is at risk of falling further behind due to the lack of advanced technologies in the cell phone industry, says Michael Lee '77 presenting the C. Richard Smith Lecture at Mount Union College on April 19.


Lee, a Chief Operating Officer of SK USA, a large conglomerate in Korea, has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and information technology industries. He served as President of Cellular One out of Boston, now Cingular Wireless. In addition, he is active in the entertainment industry, where he has structured business relationships with movie studios such as MGM, Sony Pictures, C2 Pictures and Intermedia Films, and television studios such as Sesame Workshop.

Lee began his discussion by sharing his experiences in Korea and shared a video of cell phone use in Seoul that seems to forecast the future of cell phones, but in reality already exists today.

"When I first traveled to Korea about five years ago, I read a lot about what they were doing but I really was not prepared for what I saw," said Lee.

What Lee witnessed was a new interactive world completely revolved around cell phones - cell phones that allow for users to watch video, listen to music, take pictures and send text messages. These are features available in the United States, but what about watching live television or popular movies?

In addition, cell phones in Korea have built in GPS systems that allow individuals to pinpoint and locate exactly where someone is or view a menu of a restaurant, reserve a table, order something and pay for it, all with a cell phone and have the receipt attached to the monthly cell phone bill.

Korea has systems in place that allows for cell phones to be used as digital homes which allows the user to remotely control the home's security system, climate control and even the home appliances.

"Technology is so sophisticated that the cell phone can be connected online to a home's refrigerator and tell the user what is in the refrigerator so the person knows if he or she needs to stop at the store on the way home," added Lee.

According to Lee, another prominent feature on Korean cell phones involves bar coding. For example, users enter a music store, take a picture of the bar code on a product, view details and information about it, listen to samples, download ringtones and make purchases without having to go through a checkout line.

Lee mentioned that the United States is making progress, but also warned of consequences and implications that have a profound impact on how business is conducted today.

"Industries are going to have to modify, shift and change their business models to keep up with what is going on with technology."

Lee stressed three primary challenges that the U.S. faces including education, high-speed access and innovation.

"If the United States does not stay ahead of the curve and catch up in the areas of education, high-speed access deployment and innovation, we run the risk of falling further behind. The countries that take advantage of developing these areas are the ones that are going to be setting the global standards and the ones creating the most new jobs.

"Education needs to be a national priority. We need to educate our workforce of tomorrow in a way that really whips our young people to be prepared and have the skills to implement all that needs to be achieved."

Lee challenged the students to understand and recognize where we are today.

"We need to understand where we are relative to the world and reflect on where we are and look at the tremendous opportunities that are ahead. We really need to embrace the opportunities that will advance us in the global market place."

The Smith Lectureship in Business was established in 2001 by C. Richard Smith, a 1953 graduate of Mount Union College. The purpose of this Lectureship is to bring business professionals to the Mount Union College campus to share their knowledge and experience with business students, faculty and others from the campus and local community.

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