SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM, hereinafter referred to as “SKT”) today held a press conference in Barcelona, Spain, to unveil its ambitious plans to achieve ‘AI to Everywhere’ by driving innovations in five different areas, namely Customer & Technology, Time & Space, AI Transformation(AIX) for Industries, Core Business Model, and ESG.
Customer & Technology
CEO Ryu said that SKT’s AI service ‘A.’ has successfully settled in the Korean market by securing 1 million subscribers within just 9 months of its launch, and unveiled plans to further upgrade the service to not only shape it into the leading AI service in Korea, but also to develop opportunities in the global market.
Through acquisition of sufficient knowledge data and machine learning, SKT is currently developing A. features that will enable users to engage in highly intellectual dialogues as well as emotional conversations that make users feel as if they are talking to their friends. It also plans to keep linking more and more features to A. for a more intuitive user experience – i.e. by removing the need to move between apps or conduct cumbersome searches.
The company plans to expand the variety and scope of A. features/services from 30 to 100, and is currently promoting partnerships with popular character companies.
CEO Ryu stated that the new features, including advanced conversations, multiple characters, and customized content, will be included in the updated version of A. to be released within this quarter.
He also shared his ambitions to advance into the global market with A. by customizing the service to each different market and advancing related technologies in cooperation with global telcos and AI tech companies.
Time & Space
CEO Ryu said that SKT will expand time and space for customers by increasing the realm of its business from ground to air and from reality to virtual space, and expand its role from a mobile operator to mobility operator via services like urban air mobility (UAM), autonomous driving and robots.
He explained that the company is moving fast to achieve commercialization of UAM service by developing use cases and conducting test flights, and has gained strong competitiveness in key UAM technologies such as aircrafts, 5G UAM communication network, navigation/ control, and location analysis.
Ryu also unveiled plans to introduce diverse use cases – e.g. UAM flight between airport and city centers, tourism products, etc. – in collaboration with local governments including Jeju and Daegu.
In the area of autonomous driving, which is being promoted as a long-term project, the company plans to enter into the AI solutions market.
CEO Ryu stated that SKT will develop a world-class self-driving solution package by combining SAPEON’s semiconductor chip for autonomous driving, software technology of Phantom AI, a company SKT decided to invest in, and SKT’s experience acquired through the operation of ‘Nugu Auto,’ an AI platform for automobiles.
In the area of robots, the company has launched diverse types of robots, including logistics robot and barista robot, and plans to boost the AI ecosystem by cooperating with Qualcomm and Integrit to develop an open robotics data platform.
CEO Ryu also talked about ifland, a metaverse service that takes customers beyond limitations of time and space.
With over 2,500 partners and 4 million monthly active users (MAU), ifland has grown into Korea’s representative metaverse service optimized for virtual gatherings.
Ryu said that SKT will shape ifland into a global leading social metaverse platform by evolving it into a 3D space-based social networking service in April, expanding ifland’s economic system through the adoption of a content marketplace and Web3 system, and increasing partnerships both home and abroad.
He unveiled that ifland has gained a bridgehead into the European, North American and Asian markets by signing MOUs with global telcos including Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US, Axiata and CelcomDigi.
AI Transformation (AIX) for Industries
CEO Ryu explained that SKT is facilitating AI transformation of industries with its AI technologies. The company is working closely with brilliant startups in areas such as infrastructure & hardware, base technology, and application/service, and plans to continuously expand into new business areas, including security, health care, advertising, smart factory and enterprise solutions.
He said that SKT is witnessing rapid growth in the infrastructure & hardware area by achieving outstanding performance in the AI semiconductor market in partnership with SAPEON Inc.
AI semiconductor chip X330 to be released by SAPEON Inc. in the second half of this year is expected to provide four times stronger performance than its predecessor, X220. SAPEON is increasing its market presence by supplying chips to NHN Cloud, SKT NPU (Neural Processing Unit) Farm, SK Hynix’s Smart Factory, and expanding the ecosystem through close collaboration with Phantom AI (autonomous driving), and Konan Technology (deep learning model).
By attracting investment, SAPEON saw its corporate value increase by more than six times in less than a year, from KRW 80 billion at the time of establishment in 2022 to KRW 500 billion in 2023.
In the cloud business, SKT is creating synergies with Bespin Global, Asia’s No.1 managed service provider by cooperating with OpsNow to jointly develop an AI-based cloud management platform.
In the area of base technology & application/service, the company launched an integrated advertising platform ‘ASUM’ by combining its massive customer data with Moloco’s AI/machine learning technology.
In addition, in cooperation with AI software company Konan Technology, SKT is working to expand into diverse industries, including robot, media, data analysis, commerce, airport and manufacturing, with AI video, machine learning and digital twinning, etc.
The company is also collaborating with Swit, a global work OS solution provider, to integrate internal and external services including MeetUs and Toktok, conduct joint marketing leveraging sales capabilities of SKT and SKB, and advance AI technologies.
Armed with world-class vision AI technologies, SKT plans to advance into the global market through cooperation with global top cloud service providers. The company is generating tangible results by offering ‘X Caliber,’ a vision AI-based veterinary image diagnostic solution adopted by over 120 veterinary clinics, and other services such as security dispatch and industrial safety management using AI cameras.
Core Business Model
CEO Ryu explained how AI can enhance the competitiveness of SKT’s core businesses like mobile telecommunications, media and subscription.
In line with the trend where boundaries between businesses are blurring, SKT will promote a whole new digital transformation in its mobile telecommunications business to innovate customer experience through hyper-personalized services.
In the media business, the company is preparing AI TV, AI commerce and AI content to enhance customer experience and accelerate AI transformation across the media value chain.
SKT’s subscription business ‘T Universe’ saw its subscribers, partners and GMV double last year. This year, efforts will be made to increase both the size and profitability of the business by creating synergies between T-Deal and Btv, introducing new products (e.g. financial, insurance, rental, etc.), and partnering with major global brands.
This year, the company plans to launch an AI-based open subscription commerce platform to recommend what customers want through hyper-personalized marketing based on lifecycle data, and allow partners to manage and supply products on the platform.
CEO Ryu stressed that SKT aims to create a better world with AI by tackling social problems by utilizing AI technologies.
SKT’s language AI and vision AI technologies are spreading a positive influence throughout society. ‘AI Care’ and ‘Nugu Care Call’ have been provided to a combined total of 50,000 one-person households, and AI Care has rescued 400 seniors in emergency situations. Also, SKT’s Spam Filtering System blocked more than 4 million cases of smishing last year alone. Moreover, the company is working together with many social startups including Tuat, a social startup providing visual assistance apps for people with visual impairments.
Accelerating AI Transformation through Partnerships
CEO Ryu said that SKT will accelerate AI innovations through partnerships and collaborations with AI tech companies. In this regard, CEOs of SKT’s AI partners, including Phantom AI, SAPEON, Bespin Global, Moloco, Konan Technology, Swit, and Tuat, attended the press conference to introduce their AI technologies and future vision.
Ryu stressed that together with its partners, SKT will make efforts to build a new ecosystem and play a leading role in realizing AI transformation that delivers unprecedented value to all customers, companies and industries.
“SKT’s AI innovation in the five areas is aimed at realizing ‘AI to Everywhere,’ which refers to applying AI to every part of our lives,” said Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT, “Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone can benefit from AI.”
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