Intel wins prize for product design innovations

As it continues to gain market share and brand power, the world's largest chip-maker gets a nod for its scientific method for balancing markets, features and time dynamics.
Written by Chris Jablonski, Inactive on

Intel may be lamenting its reduced fourth-quarter sales outlook, but the 43-year-old chipmaker still has a bright future. The company is flexing its product and marketing muscle by coming up #7 on Interbrand's 2011 Ranking of the Top 100 Brands and gaining its highest-ever market share in the global semiconductor business, holding the #1 position for the 20th consecutive year with just under 17 percent share.

That kind of performance takes more than decades of chip-making know-how. It requires finesse in design and scheduling of a vast product line. It's no surprise that the Intel team responsible for balancing different market needs with different feature requirements is being recognized for its impact.

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) recently announced the award of the Daniel H. Wagner Prize to Evan Rash and Karl Kempf of Intel's Decision Engineering Group.

Rash and Kempf are responsible for decision engineering at Intel; they won the prize for their use of analytics and operations research so that the right products are delivered at the right time for customers, while efficiently managing resources and costs.

To help the team plan products, features, when to sell AND weigh the tradeoffs, Rash and Kempf ditched traditional techniques in favor of advanced mathematical methods to sort through the astronomically large number of feasible plans for combinations that yielded the most profit while meeting customer requirements.

The custom solution improved Intel's business processes in many respects, according to the company. The impact included replacing a mixture of spreadsheets and databases with a single system tied to a unified database; creating a holistic view across divisions and products in place of silos; asking more what-if questions that drive business innovation;  introducing collaborative decision-making among finance, planning, and engineering departments; optimizing overall profit; and reusing product features in additional products.

To learn more about the approach, "Product Line Design and Scheduling at Intel," you can watch a video and download the Wagner Prize-winning Intel presentation on the INFORMS website.

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