RESEARCH NOTE: How Samsung Operates in B2B — an Interview with Brad Haczynski

By Patrick Moorhead - March 19, 2024
Brad Haczynski of Samsung Electronics America

Samsung is a juggernaut in consumer devices, starting with its commanding position in the smartphone market. But I believe it is seriously underappreciated for its innovations and its reach on the B2B side. That’s why I was glad to sit down recently for a one-on-one conversation with Brad Haczynski, who moved to Samsung Electronics America as their SVP and General Manager for B2B Mobile eXperience (MX) last summer after a stellar 21-year stint at Intel.

Haczynski has a long history as a sales leader, and he’s now responsible for the full B2B P&L in the MX business, including product, marketing, and sales for phones, tablets, PCs, wearables, accessories, software, and services. His organization sells through the telecom carriers and the IT channel as well as online through Samsung.com, and it serves business customers of all sizes, so he has a particularly good vantage point to survey the B2B landscape for devices.

What Sets Samsung Apart in B2B?

One of the main things I wanted to hear from Haczynski is his viewpoint on Samsung’s differentiation in B2B. As part of his answer, he came back repeatedly to the company’s Knox platform, which centers on device security but goes much further than that. I think that Knox is an incredibly valuable tool that has not gotten enough credit for what is does—and for the high bar it has set industrywide.

As Haczynski put it, “When you get into the B2B world, everyone has to have mobile device managers. They care about security, they care about applications, they care about data sovereignty. They want to have those controls.” Knox delivers hardened security that allows Samsung to innovate securely on top of Android Enterprise, giving B2B customers peace of mind that their most sensitive data, along with their users’ biometrics and passwords, will be protected from side-channel attacks and other exploits.

Knox also expands the potential usefulness of Samsung devices within B2B. While we were talking, Haczynski picked up his Galaxy S24 phone and showed it to me. “You’ll see a personal environment,” he said, “and then I click here and that’s the work environment.” It’s just that easy. The work environment keeps his business e-mails and attachments completely locked down and separate from his personal e-mail, social apps, and so on. In our always-on work culture, this only increases the utility of what’s already a very slick device.

Samsung has built on this by implementing Knox on non-flagship devices that can be deployed at significant scale within enterprises. For example, Walmart has issued more than 700,000 Galaxy XCover Pro ruggedized phones to its employees. When an employee comes into the store, they use the phone to clock in, then use it in their work to do inventory, scan products, and so on. When they leave for the day, they use the phone to clock out—and carry it with them as their personal device.

In the bigger picture, Haczynski says, “A lot of employers want to be able to give their employees a single device” that covers their work duties and includes advanced enterprise features such as asset management.

Embracing the Samsung Portfolio—and Avoiding Overwhelm

Another advantage Samsung enjoys is the sheer breadth of its product offerings. It’s clear that Haczynski was a fan of the brand as a consumer long before he joined the company; he told me, for instance, that for years now every television in his house has been a Samsung. “But the biggest growth opportunity for Samsung is really B2B,” he said. “It’s how Samsung can go get more of its fair share in IT environments, and really in OT environments—which is where the explosion is happening.” For operational technology, he particularly cites the growth in ruggedized tablets, wearables, and phones in retail, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and healthcare.

And what do his new B2B customers need? “More flexibility,” he said, adding that “Customers need easy ways to address security, reduce costs, and increase productivity.” As Haczynski put it, showing them how Samsung fits their needs is often about giving them a straightforward answer to questions such as “Why Samsung?” and “Why would you choose us for your business productivity?”

For a customer concerned about maintaining a secure supply chain, that answer might include helping them understand Samsung’s ability to manufacture the device from the ground up, including the chips that drive it. While Samsung does rely on key semiconductor partners such as Qualcomm and Intel for various product lines, the Samsung Exynos platform is critical to the company’s success. Customers may also want to know more about Samsung’s own supply chain, which the company goes to great lengths to make equitable, fair, and sustainable.

Often, though, it requires simplifying the customer’s understanding of what Samsung offers—taking that huge product breadth and making it more digestible. “Sometimes the downside of a large portfolio is that we have to be really, really clear on the right positioning,” Haczynski said. “That’s why with our sellers, it’s really important that I talk to them about outcome-based selling. You need to understand what the customer is actually trying to solve so that we position the right products—because sometimes customers can get overwhelmed when you have such a big product portfolio.”

Connected Experiences and Customization

Another differentiator is the ability of Galaxy devices to deliver a connected experience—in either B2C or B2B settings—across PCs, smartphones, and tablets. This, along with the company’s huge product volumes in these areas, makes Samsung the principal Android/Windows counterweight to the Apple ecosystem.

Haczynski was too polite to put it this bluntly, but Samsung has other product strengths that none of its competitors—not even Apple—can match. As one example, he talked about the Galaxy Z Fold: “The first time I held the Fold in my hands and used it, I thought it was an incredible experience. And the ways that we work with third parties to optimize applications for the foldable screens creates a new level of productivity.” When he was a global sales leader at Intel, he added, “I was traveling [constantly] and doing 80% of disposition of my emails, reading briefing documents and PowerPoints, and attending virtual meetings on my phone.” A product like the Z Fold completely changes that experience for the better.

As touched on in his comment about app optimization, Samsung also offers a significant level of device customization, both directly and through its channel partners. (More on them below.) In many cases, customization is used to meet the functional needs of the customer, for example when Samsung works with the U.S. government to supply ruggedized mobile devices for tactical use, or when retail or transportation companies need a price-competitive ruggedized product from Samsung’s Tab Active series. Samsung also collaborates with companies in regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services to meet their compliance requirements. Meanwhile, enterprise customization is something that Google and Lenovo/Motorola don’t do as much of, and that Apple has chosen not to do at all.

The challenge for Haczynski’s sales organization is to build on these capabilities to expand Samsung’s presence in more enterprises, whether those companies follow a BYOD policy or provide employees with “corporate-liable” devices. In many cases, the first step is to persuade the customer company to add a product such as the Galaxy Z Fold to its approved device list, and the second step is to get individual end users to select that product when they’re choosing a work device.

Telling the Samsung Story, Including AI

Haczynski knows that more companies and individuals will select Samsung products the more the company gets the word out about what those products can do. He told me that one of his goals for this year—beyond the usual revenue targets—is to cultivate “so much buzz around how Samsung products for enterprise users are creating new ways to do work, to be more productive, and to be more mobile.”

One area he’s particularly excited about is AI. “We just launched the world’s first AI-based handheld device,” he said, referring to the introduction of Galaxy AI. The features already released for it are eye-popping, including live language translations, Circle to Search, and various AI assistants to help with note taking, text editing, and photo editing. There are other use cases he shared with me that are under NDA for now, but suffice it to say: Wow. And as Haczynski put it, “We’re just getting started.”

He’s well aware that some companies won’t be comfortable with, for example, having a device translate multilingual business calls using AI capability based in the cloud. This is why Galaxy AI’s Live Translate feature is based on-device, and why Galaxy AI gives users the control to disable cloud-based AI features. “I think that’s going to be a journey,” he said. “It’s a very nascent technology. We have an opportunity at Samsung to make sure we’re understanding what those pain points are and addressing them immediately to ensure our customers know we understand their unique challenges and questions while the world is adopting AI technology at an unprecedented scale.”

The Importance of Partners

In my history of covering Samsung, it has tended to be a partner-focused company, one that recognizes the value in building an ecosystem where different partners can add value to help everyone make more money. Haczynski validated that view, but took it further. After praising the role of the carriers in launching Samsung phones, he grew even more effusive about the company’s channel partners. “There are so many partners that are all-in on Samsung, and the level of innovation they do is mesmerizing,” he said.

He gave the example of a partner that customized a Samsung ruggedized tablet with a strap on the case and its docking station for a big national restaurant chain—radically improving the way the restaurant’s waitstaff serves patrons. “They innovate like crazy,” he said, “and they’re winning all these restaurants because Android is just simple. It works. It’s easy. More importantly, they are solving some of the next-level customizations to help the restaurants run smoothly with a fleet of devices and making it seamless for their employees as they change shifts throughout business hours.” More importantly, on the backend, many customers appreciate that Samsung Knox can give them a single pain of glass to manage all of the devices at a store level, whether that involves tablets, phones, or wearables.

We also spent a while discussing Samsung’s major tech partners. “Google is obviously a critical partner to Samsung,” he said, emphasizing its role in promoting the value of Android Enterprise. But what about Google as a competitor with its Pixel smartphones? “You know, I’m not overly worried about it, and the companies have addressed it at the most senior levels of the organization,” he said. “Frankly speaking, coopetition is the world we live in.” Haczynski also said that “Microsoft is very aligned with Samsung” for “a multitude of reasons.” It went without saying that foremost among them is the common challenge that the two companies face from Apple.

Haczynski believes that AI will give Google, Microsoft, and Samsung the opportunity to create an “extraordinary partnership on the evolution of AI edge devices,” especially to better connect the user experience between Microsoft Copilot and Galaxy AI within an Android environment. “At the same time,” he adds, “we are acknowledging that not only are mobile devices pivoting to native AI capabilities, but 2024 is also the year of the AI PC. Our Galaxy Book4 offering, our partnership with Microsoft on Link To Windows, and other innovations tie the PC and phone together in a way that no other company can do today, bringing the best experiences forward around Windows and Android.”

Embracing New Challenges and a New Corporate Culture

This is an exciting arena to compete in—but what prompted Haczynski’s move from Intel? Besides his longtime admiration for Samsung’s products, from a career perspective Haczynski wanted to take on the challenge to sell finished goods and recurring services so he wouldn’t be a “chip guy” forever. As he told me, “I wanted to be able to show that I could pivot in the industry” and make an impact at a company that’s quite different from Intel.

He has embraced the accompanying learning curve. “It’s a humbling experience,” he said. “You realize how much you don’t know.” He joined Intel on the ground floor when he was fresh out of college, so it was the only culture he had known until he made the move to Samsung eight months ago.

“Coming to Samsung,” he told me, “there is a level of rigor and depth that you’re expected to know about your business.” The expectation has been “for me very quickly to learn the business, to understand how Samsung analyzes data, and to know the numbers intimately to ensure we are running a competitive and profitable business that serves the needs of our customers. Bottom line, it’s a whole level of operational rigor that I have to be in the details on.”

Haczynski didn’t reach such heights in his career by backing down from a challenge. “It’s forcing me to grow, which I appreciate,” he said. More than that, it’s only increased his appreciation for his new employer: “It gives me a whole new level of respect for how Samsung is such a financially sound company that looks at every minute detail of every product we’re selling. You don’t get to be over 22% of South Korea’s GDP without that level of innovation and discipline—it’s simply remarkable.”

Wrapping Up

Like Haczynski, I’ve chosen Samsung products for myself for years. In fact, I’ve long thought that Samsung has allowed users to get the best of what Microsoft has to offer and the best of Google software running on some of the best devices you could hope for. That’s why I’m really looking forward to how Samsung progresses in B2B under Haczynski’s leadership.

You can see his bullishness on the company in his eyes and hear it in his voice. “You will always be measured on revenue, but a win for me is to tell our story,” he said. “I think we have a big story to tell.”

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.