In this episode we are discussing the results from the annual performance report from Intel called “Accelerated Business Growth through IT.” Intel have just revealed the 2012-2013 period version and here to help us understand the findings is Chris Shaw, Intel’s IT Director for EMEA.
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Firstly tell us about the background and the purpose of this report?
The purpose really is that we are trying to convey to different organizations out in the market place that with a company like Intel we also have an IT department and we also have challenges consistent to all sorts of organizations. We have the same type of challenge around making sure that we are having appropriate costs to doing business. We want to be innovative, but again we sometimes have to challenge the way in which we are having to get that type of work done just like any IT organization. I think we have got messages that we want to share about how we have done that and hopefully anybody that is keen on reading this can see something that hits organizations across a variety of different topics.
So to summarize this very detailed report how does it reflect the developments within Intel over the last 12 months?
With regard to Intel, the report reflects some of the initiatives that we have been working on between IT and between some of our design and manufacturing elements. When we looked at stories relating to cloud computing or big data and predicted analytics we are talking about real world examples that we have had experience of within Intel that has helped us build up what we want to do for our organization as an IT group. Also how that can take advantage of some of the technologies that Intel provides.
What can other businesses learn from this report and from the journey that Intel has been on over the last year?
I think the main message is that the themes cover many of the topics that are very prevalent in the market around cloud consumerisation and so forth. Some of the messages are around what we have learnt with regards to implementation of key technologies. So as an example, in the space of big data we have a few different pilots throughout the organisation in 2012. One that was highlighted in the performance report is around a group of 5 people that we targeted to go and look at the way in which we were doing our chip design and validation processes. What we have been able to establish through that is that by taking advantage of some of the data capture that we have been doing along with some of the sensory information that we have when we were doing testing, we were able to increase the throughput of our products within the environment. We are getting more and more demand from our customers to supply new products faster so it is helping us to provide that throughput and giving us real business cases that we can take to the people who really make the decisions in Intel about why they should invest in activities like big data. I am hoping that the people who will be listening to this podcast and would read some of this annual report would see how to stimulate growth and how they can get their job done better within their organisation and help support their business growth.
An interesting part of the report was the way that Intel is using the predictive analysis to ensure the reliability of test processes. Tell us a little bit more about that?
Intel likes to be considered as a high quality brand so quite often we are ensuring that our test processes are very very thorough, as any manufacturer would do. But through those processes there is so much more information that we are able to take from what we are doing. Within a validation environment you will have a number of different sensors around you from things like temperature through to conductivity from some of the materials that we are and the validation process can happen over many weeks. Now during that time these sensors create an incredible volume of information, we are probably talking terabits of data that we have to trawl through with regards to the types of results that we are seeing that helps us tune the manufacturing processes better. For Intel we want to make sure that we have got a high yield from the silicon manufacture that we have got so we have got more high quality chips coming off the silicon wafers that we have. Getting that information and making design changes where necessary and reintegrating that into our manufacturing process allows us to get the product out faster and bring new products on line quicker as well.
Well of course mobile features highly in the report as well, talk us through some of the developments within mobile that Intel have detailed in this report?
Mobile is an interesting space, anybody who watched the tech industry would know that Intel are very keen to get involved in the mobile space with regards to phones and tablets. It also covers an area of the consumerisation of IT and “Bring Your Own Device” so we have had a huge leap in the numbers of devices that people are bringing into the environment that they want to use to actually help them get their job done. This has actually changed our traditional model of thinking in that we have to supply all of our applications and activity tools not just through a PC but over different devices as well. We are looking at things such as user experience, which is another thing that is getting traction in the market place. Take the role of some of the people in the field sales organisation for example, we have looked at how they interact with Intel back at the office rather than when they have got their laptop open. It has actually changed our working practice so that we do more now in the mobility space. The one thing that is always crucial for Intel and for many other customers is assurances around security. The security elements of mobile and “bring your own device” along with what we have been able to bring with us through the acquisition of McAfee has enabled us to design in capability’s that we can put on the silicon of the mobile devices that we create. So that in conjunction with what IT can do is an advantage of that security feature and ensures that the mobile applications that we provide our workforce are secure and more secure than on any other platform. We are creating a foundational framework with which to do that and now developers around the world in Intel can utilise that to land new mobile applications securely and in an agile fashion.
Obviously this report is a great way for Intel to shout about its successes but how do you use some of the lessons learnt from this report moving forward?
There is a lot of data as you say in there and there are a lot of measures that we are held accountable for as a result of our revenue and how much we were spending on our key resources. There was pressure on that as there is with any company. We look at that and think about how can we take the advantages of some of the technology out there and also how we can even encourage some of our design and manufacturing arms to bring us new features that allow us to do things more cost effectively. We have looked at things like data centres where we have even increased the frequency of the refresh of products in our data centres. Whereby it used to be maybe a 4 or 5 year cycle because of some of the power efficiencies that are now coming through the products that we are selling, we are able to do that refresh earlier bringing more performance. The power consumption savings that we are making in those data centres offsets all of the cost of that. It is allowing us to hit multiple vectors by taking advantage admittedly of a lot of what Intel provides but in many ways it is a circular discussion because it is only really valuable to the market place if we can prove within IT and Intel that we can also take advantage of it. Otherwise it is like you say too much of a perceived feature that an organisation is trying to sell rather than something that has an actually meaningful business benefit.
For more information and for businesses who want to look at this report in a bit more detail where can they go to have a closer look for themselves?
We have got a number of different websites around the world and you can start with Intel.com and Intel.co.uk there is an IT centre part of the Intel.co.uk site where we encourage IT decision makers, people involved in IT activities and hardware procurement. We encourage them to go to those sites and you have a variety of not only annual report information but some white papers that we are producing that indentify in far more detail than we have got the opportunity to talk about today. There is far more detail about how we have gone about utilising new technologies and there are some articles there about how we are working with Apache for the cloud environment and people can see what our journey has been in adopting this and exploring what benefits it can provide and actually implementing it in the environment and making use of it to business value.
Looking forward may be 1,2,even 3 year time what would you like those future reports into accelerated business growth through IT to show, how would you see things developing?
That’s a very interesting question. From my perspective if we put things in a report like this that don’t have any relevance to any IT organisations out there in the market place then it is not going to be useful and people are not going to read it. What I think is the more enjoyable aspects about working in IT in Intel is that we do have the opportunity to work with the design and manufacturing arm so if we think there is a feature that we think as an IT organisation we could influence the designers in manufacturing to implement in the hardware then that is something that we take a great focus on and we try to develop. Now sharing that sort of thing in the annual report is I think, a great way of showing how we can feed our IT learning back into the big manufacturing part of this organisation. I would hope that through connections with peer organisations out there that are experiencing many of the same problems as us, we can share that and demonstrate some partnership within the organisations that help lead to that innovation. Some of the things that our IT department are demanding have then led to innovations within our hardware and I would like to see even more of that.