Intel CIO: "Expectations are growing faster than we can meet" - sound familiar?

Glimpsing the human side of the behemoth...
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

Glimpsing the human side of the behemoth...

You know that quote about rich people - how they're just like you and me except they've got more money? So it is with CIOs at the top companies - they're just like you only they have more resources, more expertise, more experience, perhaps more money. Well that's what you might think. In town today was Doug Busch, VP and CIO at Intel. Now, as you may imagine, his role is two fold - he spends time evangelising the kind of systems and ebusiness strategy his bosses would like to see most users take up, and he looks after the chip giant's IT. We could argue about the former for some time. Does increased investment in IT naturally lead to improved productivity? Which technologies shouldn't you touch with a barge poll? However, his views on internal IT may be more instructive. Intel is a technology company but like other organisations it has to operate its IT in line with certain criteria. These include cost, headcount (around 5 per cent of 83,000 employees last year) and end user expectations, perhaps the trickiest area. In this regard, Busch's job is the same as those of most CIOs, IT directors and IT managers. So what can he teach us? There are victories, of course. Use of wireless LANs, typically using the 802.11b standard, has brought about big gains - up to 1.5 hours saved per day per employee is the heady measurement quoted, around half an hour of which simply comes from being able to answer email on a networked laptop in meetings. Then there is the electronic trading - with customers, 85 per cent of orders coming in over the web, and with suppliers, 35 to 40 per cent of purchasing being over the web, often using reverse auctions. He could go on. To concentrate purely on successes wouldn't gain him entry into the CIO fraternity, however, so it is also useful to hear about a few nightmare stories. Yes, Busch's colleagues always want more - just your average demanding types like founder Andy Grove - yes, Intel is dogged like everyone else by spam, and yes, investing in videoconferencing equipment doesn't seem like such a smart move now. To hear Intel doesn't have problems like these would be a sham. (See http://www.silicon.com/a55653 for another example of hard IT decisions at the company.) If you're going to be at the bleeding edge, eating your own dog food, as silicon.com pundit Thomas Power used to say, then you're going to get cut sometimes. But it's good to hear an Intel is fundamentally like most other businesses, IT-wise - even if it is actually quite rich.
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