The Insider's View: Samsung's Product Development Team: How They Create New Products

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In this blog post, we will take a look inside Samsung's product development team and see how they create new products, discussing their process for R&D and innovation.

In this blog post, we will take a look inside Samsung's product development team and see how they create new products, discussing their process for R&D and innovation.In this blog post, we will take a look inside Samsung's product development team and see how they create new products, discussing their process for R&D and innovation.

Samsung is a company that is always at the forefront of innovation.  They are constantly creating new products that change how we live our lives.  But how do they come up with all of these ideas?

This blog post will look inside Samsung's product development team and see how they create new products.  We will discuss their process for R&D and innovation and learn about the importance of teamwork in product development.

"Without a replicable process, it is very difficult to make innovation stick within a large organisation.  But there is a secret sauce to it.  We make the process extremely simple," said Yon C. Lee, VP of the Product Innovation Team (PIT) at Samsung Electronics.  "The primary mission (why PIT was formed) was to change our consumer-facing product development process from engineer-driven to consumer-driven."


Introduction

On a worldwide scale, globalisation, globalisation, and technological progress are fueling an era of unprecedented competitiveness.  Despite the company creating more customer value by introducing branded devices such as iPhone and Macbook computers, many others have not been prepared to cope with the rapidly changing landscape.  For example, Kodak was infamous for its invention of the camera because it did not respond to digital technology quickly enough.  Businesses must continue to create ways of generating value to succeed in dynamic world markets.  Therefore innovations were a topic of significant interest both for managers and practitioners.


A brief history of Samsung

Companies like Samsung were organised into divisions by product type in the early days.  So there was a television division, a mobile phone division and so on.  However, this structure made it difficult to respond quickly to changing market conditions.

As an electronics unit in 1970, Samsung started producing cheaper television sets for the Sanyo Label and later became an innovative company that proved a visionary innovator when developing plasma screens and high-tech Smartphones.  They competed primarily by developing technical components and low-cost manufacturing products for major companies like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.  Moreover, Samsung sold cheaper consumer products such as Televisions and Microwaves via discount stores like Walmart.  Until the 1997 Chinese stock market crash, it worked for them.

The 1997 crisis caused by the East Asian Financial Crisis forced Samsung to re-evaluate its strategy and find a way out of severe debt; this was when they decided to focus on higher-end products and R&D. They also adopted a policy of "open innovation", which meant that they would develop products in-house and partner with other companies to create new products; this is how they came up with the idea for the Galaxy smartphone.

To be more agile, Samsung Electronics decided to reorganise its product development team and innovation process into what is now known as PIT.


The Samsung PIT

PIT is a global team of designers, engineers, and user experience experts responsible for developing new products for Samsung.  PIT aims to focus on growing production and solution concepts using consumer insight, market-driven technologies and innovation for commercialisation.  They do this simultaneously while working directly with the product planning groups for each business unit.

For every concept that PIT develops, the team follows the New Concept Development process, which comprises four stages (understand, ideate, concept development, and concept finalisation).  This innovation process has been developed and refined over the years to help ensure that only the best ideas make it to market.

Stage 1: Understand

The first stage of the innovation process is understanding.  In this stage, the team does a deep dive into the problem they are trying to solve; this includes understanding the consumer's needs, the market trends, and the technological landscape.  The team also looks at what other companies are doing to see what has been done before and where the market is heading.

R&D is a significant investment for any company, and it's important to know that it will be worth it, primarily when operating in a global market.  Innovation and R&D can be perceived as expensive.  Still, if you don't invest in R&D, your competitors will take over your market share.  So Samsung is constantly investing in R&D to maintain a competitive advantage.

Understanding what needs to be done to maintain this competitive advantage is essential.  Samsung does this by constantly analysing the market and its consumers.  They look at what other companies are doing, where the market is heading, and what trends are emerging; this allows them to stay ahead of the curve and continue to innovate.

Stage 2: Ideate

Stage two is ideation, where the team comes up with potential solutions to the problem.  This stage is all about generating ideas and looking at the problem from different angles.  First, the group brainstormed various solutions and then narrowed the list to the best ones.

Developing new products is essential for any company.  Still, it can be challenging to create new ideas that are valuable, both for existing products and new product development.

This is where ideation comes in.  Ideation is the process of coming up with potential solutions to a problem.  It's all about generating ideas and looking at the problem from different angles.

Samsung Electronics' PIT team uses various methods to generate new ideas, including brainstorming, trend analysis, and market research.  Once they have a list of potential solutions, they narrow it down to the best ones.

Stage 3: Concept Development

After the team has generated a list of potential solutions, they move on to concept development.  In this stage, the team takes the best ideas and develops them into concrete concepts.  Finally, they test these concepts with consumers to get feedback and then change based on the input; this is a crucial stage in the innovation process because it allows the team to validate their ideas with consumers.  This feedback is essential to ensure that the concept is something that people want and will use.

The Samsung brand is built on innovation and quality, so the company needs to ensure that its products meet these standards.  That's why they put so much emphasis on concept development and testing.

Stage 4: Concept Finalisation

After the team has developed and tested the concepts, they move on to concept finalisation.  In this stage, the group decides which ideas will be turned into products.  They also develop a business plan for the development and create a prototype; this is the last stage in the innovation process, and it's where the team decides which ideas are worth pursuing.  Finally, they also develop a business plan for the product and create a prototype.

The product development process is an integral part of Samsung's business.  It's how they bring new products to market and maintain their competitive advantage.  This business strategy and strategic thinking are essential for any company that wants to succeed.


Why does Samsung Electronics invest so much in R&D?

The Samsung Group is a market leader, well known in the electronics industry for its innovative solutions and new technology.  The company spends about 28 per cent of its gross profit on R&D each year, which is more than any other technology company; this allows Samsung to maintain a competitive advantage and keep up with the latest trends.

Most companies and high tech industries on the Top R&D Spenders' List invest between 10-20 per cent of their gross profit in R&D, but Samsung's R&D budget is much higher.  The company understands that R&D is essential for innovation and new product development.  R&D allows Samsung to create new unique products and offer value to consumers.

By investing a significant portion of its gross profit in R&D, Samsung can maintain its position as a market leader.  In addition, this R&D budget allows the company to create new products and keep up with the latest trends.  Therefore, R&D is essential for innovation and new product development.


How does Samsung Electronics' design team react to the external environment?

User experience is a top priority for Samsung.  The company understands that consumers want products that are easy to use and offer value.  That's why they invest so much in R&D. By constantly analysing the latest trends and researching new technologies, Samsung can create innovative and user-friendly products.

The external environment is constantly changing, and Samsung's design team has to be able to adapt quickly.  They do this by staying up to date on the latest trends and technologies; this allows them to create new products leveraging both new and existing technology.  By being agile and responsive to the ever-changing external environment, Samsung can maintain its competitive advantage.


What are some of the challenges that Samsung's product development team faces?

One of the biggest challenges that Samsung's product development team faces are keeping up with the latest trends.  The pace of innovation in consumer electronics and personal computers is continuously increasing; Samsung has to look for new technologies and trends constantly.  They also have to be able to quickly adapt their design strategy to take advantage of new opportunities.

Another challenge that Samsung's product development team faces is maintaining a high level of quality control.  With so many products in the market, Samsung continues to be one of the most trusted brands; this is because they have strict quality control standards.  Each product that Samsung releases have to meet these high standards.

The team also has to work quickly and efficiently; they are often under pressure from top management to release new products in a short timeframe; this can be challenging, but the team has developed a process that allows them to meet these deadlines.

New ventures, new markets, and multidisciplinary teams are all part of the strategic planning of Samsung.


Radical innovation at Samsung?

While Samsung is often associated with incremental innovation, the company has also been known to pursue radical innovation.  One example of this is their development of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch; this was a completely new product category for Samsung.  As a result, they had to develop an entirely new ecosystem to support it.

The Galaxy Gear was a risky bet for Samsung, but it paid off.  The smartwatch was well-received by consumers and helped to solidify Samsung's position as a market leader.

The Galaxy Note Edge is another example of a radical innovation from Samsung.  This smartphone features a curved display that wraps around the phone's edges.  The Galaxy Note Series was developed in response to the increasing trend of consumers wanting larger screens.  Of course, a daring design like this is not for everyone, but it shows that Samsung is willing to take risks to stay ahead of the competition.

Other examples such as LCD panel systems, S Pen, and the Gear S watch show that Samsung always looks for new ways to innovate.


The Importance of Intrapreneurship at Samsung Electronics

Samsung has a long history of developing industry-leading devices.  As a result, you've undoubtedly got Samsung technology in your home or workplace.  However, as with any other firm that wants to innovate into the future, a company can never rest on its laurels.  Samsung was no exception, and it established a program to demonstrate that mentality.

Samsung established the C-Lab (short for Creative Lab) to allow Samsung workers to develop their business ideas and receive the tools, time, and assistance to become flourishing enterprises.  The initiative encourages creative thinking by allowing staff to generate ideas that don't necessarily fall within an existing business sector.  The only requirement is that the concept is genuinely original and able to show this by gaining the approval of others.  The aim is for Samsung to end up with a new product or service that it can continue developing or be marketed and sold as a standalone business.

The C-Lab is a fantastic program.  One of the best aspects is that Samsung allows employees who participate in it to focus exclusively on their projects.  They may take six months to a year off from their typical jobs to pursue their ideas full-time.  Their flexibility lets them explore without boundaries, resulting in limitless innovation.  It's a good thing for Samsung employees to be doing something they've never done before because it helps them reach their full potential.

The C-Lab is a win-win situation for everyone.  The workers are permitted to explore and develop in ways that differ from how they usually do.  Samsung stays at the forefront of innovation by taking a unique approach with the C-Lab, which keeps it ahead of the curve.


The 'Challenger Spirit of a Changing Business

The C-Lab was founded in 2012 after Samsung's management had seen how successful entrepreneurs operated in Silicon Valley.  They understood that the business environment was changing.  With an increasing number of firms obtaining funding on the back of original ideas and exploding quickly, Silicon Valley's startup scene, in particular, was flourishing.  It was anything but the standard sort of business that we were used to seeing thrive on a large scale.  Instead, these firms were fast and agile, with no regard for outdated thinking or red tape.  They were quick enough to relocate and adjust as needed.

In 2012, for example, the business of digital technologies was still a massive area of interest for entrepreneurs.  Internet and software firms received two-thirds of venture capital investments in 2014.  It's an obvious sign of the businesses that began to form a few years ago.  Internet firms made up almost half of it in terms of angel investing.  It was clear there was a desire for entrepreneurship, especially in the tech sector.  Samsung was forced to pay attention to the market and respond appropriately to foster a "challenger spirit" within its ranks.


A Holocratic Plan for the Company's Future

Operating as a startup is simple when you only have a few workers on your books.  Samsung is now seeing that it is feasible to incorporate some characteristics that define a startup into its own business.  However, it necessitates radical and fundamental changes to make it function.  Samsung made the C-Lab possible by adopting holacracy, or a more flat form of organising and directing teams.

"In a similar way to many of the startups of Silicon Valley, the C-Lab's structure isn't governed by hierarchical systems.  Instead, each team has a leader and project members.  That's it.  It works because the absence of a set-in-stone structure enables everyone to get their hands dirty, and contribute and work collaboratively to help the project meet its goals." said Stan Kim, a director of C-Lab at Creativity & Innovation Center.  "They're no longer tied to uniform tasks, they receive performance-based rewards and are encouraged to set challenging goals that help them to excel."

The C-Lab method's most notable feature is that failure isn't bad.  It's an essential element of the exploration process, which allows the most innovative businesses to achieve their eureka moment.  Workers who are not afraid of failure may experiment and produce new things that they would not have been able to do otherwise because they lacked space to breathe.  C-Lab teams also can work from home, allowing them to do so at any time of day or night.  They can also work remotely when they choose.  It's a rethink of how groups operate and collaborate.

Samsung believes that this sort of structure has significant potential.  Hybrid innovation may be aided by leveraging the established company's strong leadership and culture and the challenger spirit of small, innovative businesses.  It's a system that allows you to enjoy the benefits of both types of innovation.


The Quest for Ideas

It's easy to share and discuss thoughts and ideas as well.  Ideas may be submitted individually or as a group through Samsung's company-wide collective intelligence system 'MOSAIC,' or by email.  In addition, ideas can be shared either alone or as part of a team.

Samsung considers the products of numerous people to see which ones are most marketable and relevant.  Ideas are evaluated based on how unique, inventive, and commercial they are after they've been submitted.  The "Lean strategy" is then used to develop the ideas as efficiently as possible.  After the last round, Samsung staff vote for their favourite ideas, which move on to the following stage.  It's time for the final presentation after experts have reviewed it.  A chosen audience acts as venture capitalists during this phase.  After each speech, they decide whether or not to financially back it.

This technique enables Samsung to choose roughly 15-20 new ideas each year, subsequently designated as C-Lab initiatives.


Converting Ideas into Innovative Products

The members of the selected C-Lab teams begin to develop concepts that they believe will become full-scale businesses.  First, they may pick workers they wish to work with through Talent Audition, a unique employment posting program for team leaders.  Then, they collaborate as a unit to pursue a common goal and figure out the best methods.  Employees at C-Lab are also permitted to recruit people from outside Samsung if they can't locate the correct individuals within the company.

Many people discover that hard effort pays off in the end.  When C-Lab initiatives are finished, those closely linked to a division's business (such as TVs or home appliances) are passed on to each division for further development and introduction on the market.  Other projects are allowed to establish a separate company as a fully-fledged startup if they aren't moved to divisions.  It's not bad for something that began as a grassroots concept on the Samsung factory floor.

Employees across the entire company at Samsung have benefited dramatically from the C-Lab program.  Innovative thinking is recognised at Samsung with the chance to develop it into a product.  In addition, the company invests money as seed capital to help employees launch their enterprises.  The firm also provides support through technology and management expertise during the early phases of its business to assure consistent development.  Despite this, the firms remain autonomous.


Empowerment is the Measure of Success

The C-Lab's main aim has always been to spur and inspire staff.  As a result, employees are given the freedom to develop innovative ideas and get their hands dirty with technological innovation, leading to new business opportunities.  Given that goal, the results have been positive.  For example, the number of projects submitted to company-sponsored innovation competitions has increased.  Meanwhile, as workers realise that the more they share fresh ideas, the more likely they are to discover and create new business possibilities, sharing ideas has become a natural part of the corporate culture.

The C-Labs has resulted in a wealth of innovative ideas.  Some 46 per cent of initiatives are transferred to various Samsung divisions, and 18% are spun off as independent enterprises.  But it's the people behind the companies who are the real celebrities.  They may be more courageous in their intellectual processes and imagination.  As a result, they achieve their full potential and get just enough support and freedom to succeed by utilising their creativity.  That's a golden opportunity.


How Good is Samsung at Innovation?

And it's not just the C-Lab.  The same goes for Samsung's R&D centres and business divisions worldwide.  By sharing their ideas and expertise, they create new products that improve our lives.  It all comes down to one word: empowerment.  Empower your workers, and they'll empower your company with innovative ideas.

Samsung Electronics has developed several significant semiconductors, including memory chips (DRAM, NAND, and others).  As a result of this (among other things), Samsung is a standard component supplier to Apple companies.  It not only produces numerous creative components but also runs a well-oiled manufacturing and supply chain as a solution component provider.  The company's vertical integration has allowed it to learn about technology development.  Aside from components, it also sells consumer goods that have aided the firm in achieving spectacular growth.  With ease, it has outpaced rivals like Sony.


Is Innovation Samsung's Competitive Advantage?

It's hard to say.  While Samsung has undoubtedly been successful in innovation, it's difficult to determine whether it is its competitive advantage because several other factors have contributed to Samsung's success: its vertical integration, strong R&D capabilities, and global reach.  Nevertheless, its innovation process remains an integral part of Samsung's business strategy, and it's something in which they continue to invest.


How Unique is Samsung's Innovation Process?

While Samsung's innovation process may not be unique, it is undoubtedly impressive.  The company has created a system that allows them to produce new and innovative products consistently.  Other companies have tried to copy Samsung's model, but few have been successful; this is likely because innovation is often unpredictable and challenging to replicate.

Nevertheless, Samsung's innovation process is something worth studying and observing.


What can we learn from Samsung's Product Development Process?

There are a few key things that we can learn from Samsung's innovation process:

  • The importance of R&D: Samsung invests a lot of money in R&D, and it has paid off.  The company's R&D capabilities are among the best in the world.  They have helped Samsung develop several new technologies and products.
  • Empowering employees: Samsung understands that its employees are its most important asset.  The company empowers its workers by giving them the freedom to share their ideas and expertise, resulting in a culture of innovation, which has helped Samsung create new and innovative products.
  • The importance of vertical integration: Samsung's vertical integration has played a vital role in its success.  The company has gained a great deal of knowledge about technology development through its vertically integrated businesses; this has allowed Samsung to develop new products and manufacturing processes, which have helped it to achieve spectacular growth.
  • Core competencies: Samsung has several core competencies, such as R&D, manufacturing, and supply chain management.  These competencies have helped the company become a leading player in the global market.
  • Outsource: Samsung augments its R&D teams with external partners such as Innovolo to access hard-to-find skillsets and expertise, get extra capacity during peak periods, and keep R&D costs down.
  • Continuous improvement: Samsung is constantly looking for ways to improve its innovation process.  The company is continually testing new ideas and changing its approach to make it more efficient and effective.


What does the future hold for Samsung's product development team?

The future looks promising for Samsung's product development team.  They have proven that they can quickly adapt to the ever-changing external environment and maintain a competitive strategy.  Additionally, they have a strong understanding of its core competencies and continue to invest in R&D.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will play a significant role in Samsung's future product development.  The company has already started to invest in these areas.  As a result, we will likely see some very innovative products from Samsung soon.

As long as Samsung continues to innovate, it should be able to maintain its position as a leading player in the global technology industry sector.


Conclusion

Samsung's innovation process is something worth studying.  The company has created a system that allows them to produce new and innovative products consistently.  Other companies have tried to copy Samsung's model, but few have been successful; this is likely because innovation is often unpredictable and challenging to replicate.  Nevertheless, Samsung's innovation process is something worth studying and observing.  We can learn a few key things from Samsung's innovation process, such as the importance of R&D, empowering employees, and vertical integration.  These lessons can help other companies to improve their innovation processes and become more successful.

Key Takeways