Samsung’s Mad Dash to the Digital Future Might Already Be Paying Off

You either pay lip service to innovation or pay the bills that make it happen. Now there's a foolproof way to show whether a company is dead serious about innovation, the decades-old buzzword everyone in the business world claims and alludes to all the time.

In 2014, Samsung topped the list of the world’s biggest R&D spenders among IT organisations, shelling out a whopping US$13.8 billion to conjure the next transformative idea on the horizon, beating other innovation powerhouses like Intel, Apple and Google. Some of that hefty investment have already been translated into technological marvels, including Samsung’s astonishing feat of cramming 16 terabytes of memory into a 2.5-inch solid-state disk.  

Already the global leader in the mobile market, the South Korean behemoth remains a key player in the consumer electronics, semiconductor, and home appliances sector. This near-complete coverage of the digital world gives the company all the bragging rights it needs to make relentless forays into the emerging realities of computing: Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

In fact, in its list of the world’s most innovative organizations, Fast Company largely downplayed Samsung’s dominance in the mobile ecosystem, trumpeting instead the chaebols’ steady string of achievements in its bid to bring everyone closer to realizing a truly connected existence. In its vision of the future, Samsung builds a universal network of people, computers, phones, wearables, appliances, transportation systems, schools, hospitals, homes and just about everything else to deliver experiences and solutions that were mere wishful thinking in many science fiction novels. Bring along a digital doctor with you on your trip to the Himalayas? Check. Dote on your kids via a robot nanny while you’re scaling the cliff? Check.

To bring this conceptual blueprint even closer to reality, Samsung bankrolled the US$200-million acquisition of SmartThings, a startup that enables people to easily control locks, light bulbs, sound systems and other appliances. The purchase effectively positions Samsung as the biggest player yet in IoT.

Meanwhile, Big Data is the natural technology complement of -- or the analytic follow-through to the Internet of Things. After all, what happens to the insane amount of information that is being created and shared by the billions of connected devices in the overarching network Samsung imagines? Something simply has to make sense of that tremendous heap of digital data.

As in the Internet of Things, Samsung also reigns in the realm of Big Data. Well, at least in some aspects of it. In 2014, the company’s data-crunching engine, DeepSort trumped all other competitors in the Sort Benchmark competition, considered the “Grand Prix” and “World Cup” of data sorting. DeepSort -- which competed with other engines developed by major IT companies and research institutions -- clocked in a record-breaking performance of 3.7 TB of data in 60 seconds, surpassing the previous record of 1.5 TB by around 150%.

Developed by Samsung subsidiaries in South Korea and Silicon Valley, DeepSort is expected to reside in many Samsung devices via web services and mobile apps. Coupled with breakthroughs being ushered in by SmartThings and other Samsung IoT units, the foundational technologies for a whole new world of connected experiences are rapidly being established.

Which only confirms what everyone suspects: The future might just be a stride away, thanks to companies like Samsung which are blazing the trail to get there.
  1. Samsung unveils 2.5-inch 16TB SSD: The world’s largest hard drive Ars Technica
  2. The 10 biggest R&D spenders worldwide Fortune
  3. Samsung is spending an insane amount of money to beat Apple to the ‘next big thing’ BGR
  4. Samsung: For Bringing Internet Intelligence to More Things Fast Company
  5. Samsung ranked No. 1 in R&D spending among global IT brands SamMobile
  6. IoT and big data to drive next tech revolution – Samsung Mobile World Drive
  7. Thick data closes the gaps in big data analytics Tech Republic
  8. Samsung Electronics Big Data Solution, No. 1 in Sort Benchmark Samsung Tomorrow
Photo Credit"Samsung headquarters" by Oskar Alexanderson