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Plenary Session: Staying Ahead of the Curve: How Samsung Drives Innovation

09 February 2015


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he 3 P’s that drive innovation benefit governments and companies, says Samsung CEO

Three P’s drive innovation – Product, Process, and People – said Yoon Keun Yoon, CEO of Samsung Electronics Company, at The Government Summit 2015.

Yoon spoke about how innovation is part of Samsung’s foundation. Driven by what he calls “a hunger for success”, Samsung, a virtual unknown in the 1990s, built the company foundation by responding to consumer demand with innovation.

“The logic of the three P’s is simple. To create the best product, we need the best process, and to create the best process, we need the best people”. He added “I believe, no I know, we need all three to build something special that the world has never seen.”

From a company whose goal was “just to survive,” Samsung charted its growth to where it is now. “Today we are a global firm that generates $200 billion a year in sales. We are leading our industry across eight categories. Our brand is now the seventh most valuable in the world,” he said.

Focusing on the future, Yoon said that by 2020 the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform the way we live. In the new, connected society, governments and the private sector need to work together, he said. The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as a scenario in which objects and people can connect with each other over a network using unique identifiers.

Showcasing a sensor that can be embedded anywhere – from beneath a mattress to wearables such as hats and glasses – he said that by 2020, 100 per cent of Samsung devices will be IoT-enabled.

However, to succeed using the maximum potential of technology, governments and the private sector need to work together, Yoon said.

“The IoT will touch every aspect of our lives. That is why we have to work with industries and strike partnerships everywhere. These need to go further than the private sector. Government support will be just as critical to realize the potential of IoT. It cannot stop inside your home. It must continue when you drive on a public street or visit a hospital. And only governments can help us connect these dots,” Yoon said.

The transformative power of technology is life-changing for individuals and societies. But for the benefits to be tapped fully, we may need to change the way we work. “We need three things – we need to show the public how they will benefit from the IoT. Second, if we want to connect, and deliver the benefit of IoT, we need an open ecosystem that allows all devices to be connected. We must not have IoT silos. Third, we have to collaborate across industries,” said the Samsung CEO.  

“I can confidently say that setting a goal and never comprising is critical to our success,” Yoon said, citing the case of innovation in television design and technology as well as the humble refrigerator.

“For the longest time, the industry kept making bigger and bigger refrigerators to offer more storage. But kitchens were getting smaller. So the challenge was how to increase storage, not the size.”

“The answer was to start from square one and change how refrigerators are built. We focused on finding new ways to add value by getting insights from Michelin starred chefs. We developed a new concept with groundbreaking temperature control.”

Yoon added: “None of these innovations would have been possible without the second P: “Process”. It may not seem as exciting as Product, but it is absolutely critical. 

“Just think of Dubai Port. Global trade took off. When you have 300,000 employees in 80 countries, process and standards are an absolute must. We realized that the larger we got the more we would have miscommunication and inefficiency. To be successful, we had to fix that. And we knew that the solution was better process. 
But for great process to succeed, you also need great people”, Yoon said. 

“We believe that a company is its people. That is why we support and nurture our staff to help them reach their full potential. We send employees to countries for one to two years – they learn cultures. And they gain vital knowledge about their host market. This program is unique to Samsung.”

In fact, this program was chosen by Fortune magazine as one of the top five business decisions of all time.

Samsung also built a tool called the smart learning platform. Customized learning is possible on this platform at any time, at any place. 

“Product, process and people – it works for us,” Yoon said.

The CEO said the three P’s can work as well for governments. For instance, innovation can help produce better public service with more efficiency. “They are the basis for outstanding innovation for all of us. Today, getting innovation right is more important than ever.”

Yoon explained the role played by Samsung Research Labs in studying some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. He identified these as Mobility, Organization, Ageing, and new risks such as Climate Change.

“These are changing how we live and work. They also force us to rethink how our societies operate and how government can respond effectively. We need two things – the best technology and the best governance.

“To innovate, we have to acknowledge change, we have to be ready to leave our comfortable jobs and break through the limitations of all thinking. I can say with confidence that there is no challenge that cannot be overcome. There are as many ideas as there is sand in the desert. They are just waiting to be found.

“I hope you will work with us to make these possibilities a reality for your citizens,” Yoon said.