BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Samsung Electronics is planning to open several innovation centers outside South Korea as part of a project to reinvent the company and ride the next wave of business and consumer-driven opportunities, according to Young Sohn, Samsung's newly-appointed chief strategy officer.
One of the first such centers will be on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, the heart of California's Silicon Valley. Sohn revealed the plan on Thursday (Oct. 4) during a talk at the International Electronics Forum here, organized by consultancy Future Horizons.
Sohn, was previously a senior advisor to Silver Lake Partners and prior to that was CEO of startup Inphi Corp. Sohn serves on the boards of directors of processor IP company ARM Holdings (Cambridge, England) and EUV laser source company Cymer Inc. (San Diego).
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Sohn said one of the things his role at Samsung requires is that he looks at how large organizations innovate. He referenced successful examples including Apple, Lockheed with its Skunk Works and Sun Microsystems with Java. One of common characteristics was that relatively small teams had been allowed to innovate away from operational pressures, Sohn said.
Young Sohn, chief strategy officer at Samsung
"We're opening an innovation center in Silicon Valley, away from Korea, away from the mothership. We'll be looking at the Cloud, at big data. We also have a center in Israel." He added: "We're reaching out to global talent but it is also about culture and business innovation."
Part of Sohn's talk to assembled executives here made the observation that the Cloud – where data and applications are hosted in large datacenters – is already changing the hierarchy of major IT companies and that even bigger changes are set to come in the next five years.
"Companies such as Facebook and Google are designing their own hardware, partly because they can and partly because their needs are different," said Sohn, indicating that this is creating an opportunity in microserver architecture. "Enterprise computing was driven by the traditional hierarchy of companies; IBM, Dell and so on. Now there is a Cloud-driven micro-architecture, microserver, which we think will be ARM-based.