Young Sohn

Corporate President & Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung Electronics

As an IT person, I’ve had an inside view of fast-paced innovation. In 1983, as my IT career began, the PC was new and exciting. In hindsight, those early PCs seem almost comically limited. They weighed 20+ pounds, had tiny 5-inch black-and white screens displaying only ASCII text, used floppy drives, and had a mere 64k of memory. Plus, they cost more than $9,000 in today’s dollars.

Similarly, the early ‘80s ‘portable’ phones—like the one wielded by actor Michael Douglas in his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street—cost $4,000 in today’s dollars, offered limited coverage, did only voice calls, took 10 hours to recharge, and lasted for about half an hour of talk time. And at about 2 pounds each, they could have doubled as lightweight dumbbells.

Over the past four decades, we’ve seen multiple waves of innovation in the IT industry: the Personal Computing Era, beginning in the early 1980s; the Internet Era, starting in the late ‘90s; and the Mobile Era, from the late 2000s to now.

If we think of the Convergence Era from 2020 onward, it encompasses all the previous eras while also extending to the manipulation of both bits and atoms—meaning more interactions and integrations between the digital and physical realms. Convergence will advance areas such as self-driving vehicles, personalized medicine, data and AI, and quantum computing.

Shift from Mobile 1.0 to Mobility 2.0

The shift from the smartphone Mobile 1.0, to Mobility 2.0 is happening. Autonomous mobility is a current example of this convergent future, and the lessons to build on from the IT industry:

  • Core technologies.As in IT, autonomous mobility will require rapid advancement of semiconductor, display, computer communications and other core technologies.
  • Standardization.To work as universal communications devices, mobile phones required the industry to overcome its fragmentation and establish standards for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and inter-country roaming. Similarly, the autonomous vehicle industry will need to standardize platforms on multiple fronts including APIs, testing, verification, mapping and cloud, telematics, and V2X communications.
  • Horizontalization.Autonomous mobility will entail an evolution from vertical integration to horizontal platforms, to avoid duplication of focus and investment.
  • Open ecosystem.As we’ve found at Samsung, open ecosystems are crucial to drive innovation; they will become increasingly important for Mobility 2.0.
  • Consolidation.Inevitably, the industry will experience restructuring and consolidation.

Collaboration is Key

The ecosystems for convergence-era industries will be too complex for any one player to succeed alone. Instead, we must pool investments and agree on standards to prevent overlapping efforts, redundant R&D budgets, and products that don’t work together.

At Samsung, our strategy is to invest in areas where we already excel—which for autonomous mobility includes computer processing, software and cloud infrastructure, as well as our HARMAN connected car solutions—and to collaborate with other players throughout the ecosystem.

As you can see, addressing the complexity and scale of industries such as autonomous mobility will take people from different backgrounds working together to achieve our goals – as an exhilarating marathon!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Watch the video: Convergence in The Era of Autonomous Mobility