Samsung at CES 2015: How enterprise fits it in with Internet-of-Things

As Samsung fleshes out its Internet-of-Things strategy for a connected world, these consumer gadgets also figure into the tech brand's somewhat more hidden enterprise agenda too.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

LAS VEGAS--- Samsung has a dominating presence at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show this week, flaunting everything from smart watches to nanocrystal displays that make high-definition television sound like an understatement.

But as Samsung fleshes out its Internet-of-Things strategy for a connected world, it is becoming increasingly clear that these consumer gadgets also figure into the tech brand's somewhat more hidden enterprise agenda too.

I had a chance to sit down with Samsung's chief enterprise innovation officer Robin Bienfait and Ed Abrams, vice president of marketing for the Samsung STA Enterprise Business Unit, on the first official day of the International CES on Tuesday at the opulent Encore Hotel in Las Vegas to dissect where Samsung sees itself in the enterprise tech space right now.

Here are a few highlights from our discussion, edited and condensed for clarity.

ZDNet: Amid Monday's announcements, we heard a lot about what Samsung has planned for the connected home, especially around home entertainment, appliances and mobile devices. What does Samsung's approach for the Internet-of-Things mean for enterprise?

Abrams: The Internet-of-Things is an extremely relevant topic from a B2B perspective. The Internet-of-Things is going to drive the success of things you hear about around big data and analytics, enabling the cloud more effectively.

When we look at B2B, we're uniquely positioned to take everything from the front-end experience on the device, whether it be a laptop or wearable, back through the applications, the service and support, and the solutions to bring all of that information together for customers in a way that allows them to access and activate it.

Many companies and businesses are saying, "Yes, we're getting information, data and insights. But how do I empower that?" That is Samsung's differentiator. We understand our experiences in the consumer space and the B2B space in how to deliver them in multiple formats in a way that's relevant and actionable for customers.

Bienfait: The easy way to say it is our B2B customers want to be closer to their consumers. Not only those consuming, specifically, but the potential to consume these capabilities.

Over the course of the last five to six years, people were worried about bringing mobility insides companies. They really need to start building their digital strategy, mobilization strategy thought process with that end user in mind -- the person they're trying to serve outside.

All of us live double lives, but we all have to work somewhere, whether it be for ourselves or a large corporation. We have to make sure we're connecting those enterprises with their end users. The technology starts the conversation.

ZDNet: What are some of the biggest hurdles still facing the acceptance and encouragement of the Internet-of-Things in the workplace, namely around device and data security?

Bienfait: I actually call it the Enterprise-of-Things. A lot of things you see in the consumer space, the enterprise wants to use and learn that. The enterprise is trying to figure out how to become a quick adopter. Sometimes it's the nature of the business. If you're in a very regulated space, you're going to be prohibited from some early adopter things.

What we want to be able to do is come in and help the customer make that transformation, lift the relationship so they're not having to manage the different pieces but instead consume the capabilities and help establish new channels. A lot of these customers aren't using mobile channels to drive new revenue and communications.

Sometimes they have to get rid of pain points, disparate capabilities. There are things we can do to eliminated that. Some of that elimination starts with integrating capabilities.

ZDNet: One of the recent updates for Samsung Knox included the integration of Centrify's cloud identity and access management tools last fall. What can we expect for Knox in 2015?

Bienfait: To be in the enterprise world, you have to have a security architecture. We're at Knox 2.0, a lot of collaboration between us, Google, and EMMs. We work very closely with everyone.

ZDNet: The debut of Samsung 360 Services for enterprise clients looked a bit like an answer to the Apple-IBM partnership in 2014. How does Samsung see itself in this increasingly crowded space? Who are the rivals? Who presents the most potential for collaboration?

Bienfait: Building a service is a business, and it's getting us to understand B2B customers better. It's different. We're an open ecosystem. We want to make sure we're helping our enterprise businesses so we can be that one hand to shake to get across multiple carriers, multiple platforms, pain points, help them with application deployment.

We won't do everything ourselves, but we want to be with the best of the best at the table. We have 100+ partners. I couldn't single out a single one. It depends on what you're trying to do. In some cases, our enterprise customers might have relationships with those partners. We're there to make sure what works well.

Abrams: You're not locked into one relationship, one partnership. We have the flexibility to bring the right partner depending on customer needs, whether it's an established relationship or a specific need.

For example, it could be point of sale. Say they want to bring a tablet to the point-of-sale and get the person standing behind the cash register out from behind that. We could be working on a type of point-of-sale and bring someone who manages point-of-sale content in or security solutions from Knox to lock point-of-sale information when the salesperson moves about the store.

ZDNet: Back in November, Samsung nodded toward mobile healthcare and B2B as crucial areas for enterprise growth. What progress has been made since then and what can we expect in 2015?

Abrams: When we look at our 2020 business goals, the B2B marketplace is a critical element for deriving success as an organization. We're making changes internally and externally to advance services and solutions we think will accelerate everything we're doing to help customers in B2B.

You kind of separated B2B and healthcare, and we don't look at it that way. Yes, there are five key industries we want to make sure we deliver services and solutions to: healthcare, retail, financial services, education, and the government and public sector.

We want to cover every industry out there. But when you talk about those other two pillars of technology and specific solutions, we're looking at those five industries to deliver capabilities. They represent the largest B2B opportunities.

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