Embracing emerging tech with Samsung NEXT
As the pace of technology innovation accelerates over time, today’s tech companies must constantly re-invent themselves to avoid falling victim to the innovator’s dilemma. At Bloomberg Live: The Year Ahead conference in New York last month, David Eun, president of Samsung NEXT and Chief Innovation Officer of Samsung Electronics, shared how those dual roles encourage Samsung to embrace emerging technology and take advantage of new opportunities.
As Chief Innovation Officer, Eun is tasked with recognizing what the future might bring and helping to chart a course for Samsung to take advantage of emerging business models or advances in technology.
“Because things move so quickly in technology, it’s difficult to think even a year out because the markets change so quickly and the dynamics are so fast-paced. We’re trying to think about where we should be 3-5 years from now. Part of that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: much of what we do is identifying a vision and then figuring out what it takes to get there by bringing in inside and outside thought leaders.”
The vision is informed in part by his role at Samsung NEXT, where Eun oversees an innovation arm that invests in startups, leads partnerships with and recommends acquisitions of startups on behalf of Samsung, and also develops its own software and services products.
“By investing in companies that we think present collaboration opportunities, we can have what we call demo days or workshops to attack specific issues or opportunities by bringing together a mix of startups, entrepreneurs and established business leaders from within inside the company to create a blend of ideas.”
These activities give Samsung NEXT — and Eun — unique insights into emerging trends within the consumer and enterprise markets, which can then be leveraged by the broader Samsung organization.
“We realize that in a company of 350,000 people , having partnerships and collaborations with not just other companies, but research institutions and entrepreneurs all over the world is a fantastic way to make sure that we have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on. And not just on business and technology, but on evolving consumer taste.”
While Samsung is known best for its mobile and consumer electronics hardware, Eun hopes to grow the software and services expertise within the company, acknowledging the two will become increasingly important as the designations between hardware and software companies begin to break down.
“As we think about the future of our businesses, it’s not just the future of hardware; we think about how we can create experiences—the thoughtful integration of hardware and software,” Eun said.
Eun adds that enabling experiences will be key to the future success of Samsung and other tech companies, particularly as consumers become less interested in hardware devices’ technical specs and more focused on what they can do with those devices.
“As we think about IoT and the connected home and the proliferation if AI, we think about [mobile and television] displays as touchpoints to gather information and to provide consumer experiences that are chained together,” Eun said.
For all those reasons, Samsung NEXT seeks to embrace an ethos of open innovation and collaboration with the global startup ecosystem, as well as with the research and academic communities that will develop the next waves of technology.
“For corporations that are seeking to innovate, seeking new growth opportunities, the idea of investing in and partnering with entrepreneurs and helping them figure out their product market fit is mutually advantageous,” he said.