[SMA Insider] CEO of MW NETWORKS, leading the contactless MICE market with “hologram”
Taking advantage of the global network in recording of the global leaders from their home
Came up with an idea of implementing a hologram while planning for a “virtual conference”
“Putting more weight on research and consulting”, pursuing to be “different” instead of being “on the top”
Looking forward to shifting in paradigms in the post Covid-19 era as a meeting technology providing company
“Although the term “meeting technology” is widely used, little is known as to what technologies are out there, who provides the technologies and how and where they can be utilized. So, “why don’t we take a shot at it?” That’s how our journey started at MW NETWORKS.”
CEO Seong Min-wook who is heading up MW NETWORKS (picture) is a veteran who has had 16 years of experience in MICE industry. He has a unique way of tackling issues: complex issues be solved in a simple manner and simple issues be analyzed in a complex manner. He introduced the hologram technology to the conference arena, giving clarity to meeting technology that seemed vague to most people and making it something tangible. Within six years, MW NETWORKS has grown to be an innovative MICE enterprise that offers latest “zero contact” meeting technologies such as hybrid, video conference and VR solutions from a start-up established with a goal of creating a glamorous party culture. We met with CEO Seong Min-wook on July 13 when the season kicked off with cool showers.
Q. MW NETWORKS is on the spotlight as a young enterprise leading changes and innovation.
A. “We are striving to become one of the core PCOs that delivers technology-based consulting and urban marketing services. Right from the start, we had a clear business direction. Becoming the No.1 leader in the market was not on our mind at all. We wanted to be “different” from the rest of the pack. The local MICE industry was in fierce competition and it was like running the rat race with no way out. Still, I wanted to find a way out and build a company that would make people raise a question; ‘Who would have imagined that a company that started off as a PCO can grow to be something so different?’ Six years have passed and we often hear people referring to MW NETWORKS as ‘a company that turns ideas into reality’”.
Q. You had a plan to host events utilizing holograms early on and MW NETWORKS was on the spotlight as you hosted a press conference and a speaker session using hologram technology.
A. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been getting a lot of attention as a technology-based MICE company. We’ve been getting a lot of calls because we are the only company that offers a solution that can make virtual presence closest to real one. We embarked on the development of hologram technology back in 2016 and it is a proven technology now after about three years, we have run many tests on the technology. As far as I know, we are the only company that can seamlessly provide hologram services internationally.”
Q. How is this hologram technology applied to the MICE industry?
A. “Hologram is a solution called ‘hologram telepresence’. Hologram telepresence technology enables conference organizers to virtually transport speakers to the conference site to remotely communicate with conference participants. Our solution combines commercial tele-communications technologies with our patented proprietary engine and software. There are other local companies that have similar solutions but they are missing the global network. We have a headquarter in Canada and we became a part of the global network in the pursuit of global expansion. We started to look for technology three years ago and adopted it full swing from the middle of last year after we tested and verified the solution over a long period of time. We’ve now tested the solution several times and successfully demonstrated in a large conference held in Korea.”
Q. What would be your next innovative model that will come after hologram?
A. “It is probably going to be ‘virtual space technology’. Everyone agrees that the pandemic is not going to go away soon and at once. There’s also possibilities that we will encounter other infectious diseases caused by variant viruses. Nevertheless the meetings and business operations will resume and go on. So, it’s time to develop zero-contact solutions to prepare for the future. We are in the process of developing contactless interactions in offline settings as well as providing continuous advancement in video conference solutions. We’ve completed structuring work in VR and CG technologies which will be developed either independently or in collaboration.”
Q. As a startup dealing with MICE content, you’ve achieved impressive growth for a short period of time.
A. “We started off as a four-man company and now we have fifteen members. People finally seems to perceive our company differently. A PCO company has been known as an agency which has its core competence in ability to organize and execute an event on behalf of the client. But, we were interested in ‘new development’ from the start. Since the ‘development’ entails high risk, many PCOs were reluctant to make investments towards the development. We jumped right into it though and launched 6-7 new programs since our founding. We’ve also conducted urban marketing projects such as a feasibility study of large urban projects, which is now serving as a long-term momentum for our company. I tried to grow our company into one that deserves to be called the ‘Core PCO’. We would like to be a consultant rather than an agent.”
Q. Whether we like it or not, “zero-contact” will become the byword in the MICE industry for the future.
A. “There is this term ‘Zoom Fatigue’. The term refers to the inconvenience and anxiety people experience during a video conference. People take comfort from face to face interactions or relationships involving non-verbal communication. Even after the world was hit hard by the Spanish flu, people met and gathered. Wanting to meet with others is a part of human nature, which cannot be fully replaced by any technology. However, we cannot cling to the traditional business models with a vague hope that ‘meeting’ will happen eventually. It is like waiting under a tree with a mouth open, hoping that a fruit may fall into your mouth one day.”
Q. Then, where can we find a clue for change?
A. “Recently Korea-EU Summit and Seoul’s CAC Global Summit were held virtually. These events can serve as a clue indicating the direction of change in the MICE industry. Small-scaled contactless events powered by latest technologies will be the mainstream for the time being.
Q. Any last words you’d like to share with us…
A. “We are on a journey to find the answers. We are planning to introduce a new game with rules and do what we can do in the MICE industry. We recently created a corporate vision of ‘building a company where everyone can work elegantly for a long time’. This vision reflects our commitment to creating new values in the PCO industry which will make PCO work more elegant. I hope all PCO players make concerted efforts in creating an environment and a system where PCOs will become ‘Core PCOs’ that participate early on from the initial stage of the project development and build global capacities to win and execute global projects. That will lay the foundation for achieving sustainable development and increasing the size of the pie for us all.
MW NETWORKS that has been making relentless efforts to bring change and innovation to the MICE industry.
We look forward to MW NETWORKS playing a key role in leading the industry toward a new direction in a time of paradigm shift in the MICE industry in the wake of the pandemic.