13 December 2017
6 min read
Here at Samsung NEXT, are many ways in which our team seeks to accelerate the development of transformative software and services businesses. While we're probably best known for investing, partnering with, or acquiring startups, we've also been working toward developing our own products.
With that in mind we're proud to announce that we've hired Travis Bogard to lead our internal product development efforts. He brings with him more than two decades of experience in sales, strategy, and product as an executive at companies like Uber, Jawbone, and Tellme. Today we thought we'd share a little bit more about Travis' background, what problems he's interested in solving, and what trends in technology will impact the future of tech.
We’re excited to have you join and lead our product development efforts. But first, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourself and where you worked prior to Samsung NEXT?
I’m a purpose-driven product person who is passionate about the opportunity for technology to solve real problems, to make life easier, and to enable people to live healthier, happier, and more productive lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of amazing teams creating new categories and interfaces in the domains of hardware, software, and data across both consumer and enterprise. Some of these categories include digital communications (AOL Instant Messenger), voice interfaces & assistants, wireless smart speakers, wearables and health behavior change, and transit within companies like AOL, Netscape, Tellme, Jawbone, and Uber.
In those various roles, you’ve touched engineering, sales, customer care, product, marketing, research, and strategy. How do all those things fit together, and how will you leverage that experience as part of our product organization?
I’ve worked in or managed various functions over time, and it’s helped give me perspective and empathy for how decisions in one function impact others. I’m a better product person as a result of not only having built products alongside a team, but having to try to market and sell those products. This has influenced how I think of building teams, managing the various perspectives of each functional area, and finding opportunities for tighter collaboration.
Conversations that can often be dismissed as “sales always thinks the product is broken” or “hardware always blames software” (or vice versa) become powerful when insight can be extracted from these diverse perspectives and used to improve the product. Fundamentally, it’s led me to think in terms of "systems and businesses" vs. "technology and products."
As we build out our product organization at NEXT, we look to empower teams to create and build with a clear alignment to, and understanding of, why we are building. This will allow us not only to define what success looks like, but to reflect various perspectives in the process, helping the team think about the broader world and the system our products fit into.
If we do that well, we will create amazing products people love to use -- and do so in a collaborative environment where super smart people can be their most creative, happy, and proud.
At Samsung NEXT, we already do investment, partnership, and M&A. Why is it important for us to also have our own product group?
The mission of NEXT is to create software and services that complement Samsung’s global footprint of hardware. Investment, partnership, M&A, and product development are all tools we have for achieving this mission.
I believe building out our product development strength will increase the success of investments, partnership, and M&A because it helps give us the context of the challenges our partners are facing. Not only this, but it leads us to create solutions that will help give startups a path to cohesion across our hardware categories, opportunities to quickly scale, and generally a partner that is like-minded in approach and goals.
What products will you be focused on developing? How will that fit in with Samsung NEXT’s mission?
Stay tuned for more details. As I get up to speed, that is one of the first questions I’m working to answer with the team. In the meantime, I can say there are many interesting technology shifts going on in the world that are interesting opportunities -- and ones that may surprise you to hear Samsung NEXT is interested in. You will see from us a combination of interesting products across multiple platforms and finding ways to make it easier for partners and our ecosystem to leverage Samsung’s large hardware footprint--from televisions and phones, to refrigerators and the connected home.
What are the secular trends that you see impacting the future of tech?
At a macro level, we are transitioning from tech products being the destination to technology aiding in humans getting to the destination. We see this playing out with various forms of backlash against tech. There are key areas where products and businesses are being created around trends, but we are just scratching the surface of the benefits of some of them. Examples include:
- Mobile interface. So far, we largely have portable desktop computing interfaces, not pure mobile interfaces. Voice as an interface is a key element here and is just now catching on.
- Efficient pairing of supply & demand. It is still costly, inefficient, and wasteful to connect demand with supply for things like computing power, talent, finances, transit, purchase interest, etc.
- Meaningful Context. While there is digital info about us all over, we largely don’t understand or benefit from what that data can inform in terms of context. From longitudinal health, better triaging, and disease management to a smarter context of preferences for home automation, the context that could be known is often not captured or reflected in a personalized, higher-quality experience.
- Completion > Engagement. Too much of the software and services world is focused on engagement measured in time, but intelligent systems will accomplish tasks with virtually no engagement, instead aligning incentives directly with a person.
- Digital Collaboration. Success here comes when remote employees are on the same playing field as those in the room. Today’s tools have enabled greater real-time collaboration, but the advantages of that work style are still being learned and certain in-person tools still have no practical digital equivalent.
- Integrated Work + Life. The modern worker fluidly transitions between working and living. As a result, the consumerization of IT has largely improved the UI of many enterprise tools. Yet, policies and many tools still don’t make segmentation easy, allow a graceful transition from personal to professional use on devices, or create seamless portability across devices.
What particular technology segments do you find interesting or believe area big opportunity for new products?
Focusing intently on the human and removing complexity in their lives is the foundation for a big opportunity. Typically, there are many technical solutions to make headway on solving those problems if the pain-points are articulated clearly. Advances in popular tech trends can become tipping points to help solve problems.
For example: Machine learning and its impact on context and personalization; improvements in speech recognition and impact on interface; blockchain and its impact on identity and trust; IoT and its impact on distributed, yet unified experiences; high-speed mobile proliferation and its impact on connecting supply and demand; as well as AR/VR, and the integration of physical and digital worlds, are just a few of the areas where we see great potential.
To read more about Travis' plans, you can check out his LinkedIn article on the move.