Getting Intel IT moving at the pace of the business

Kim Stevenson says her single biggest challenge as Intel CIO is "moving at the pace of the business" and helping facilitate a more open collaborative culture.

As one of the chip manufacturer's corporate vice presidents alongside her CIO role overseeing Intel's worldwide estate of 6,000 IT professionals, Stevenson told CIO UK how she went about removing bottlenecks, aligning her IT department with Intel's broader business needs, and speeding up their crucial time to market.

"Our single biggest problem in IT is we don't move at the pace of the business," Stevenson said. "Business moves rapidly but IT tends to be slower delivering capabilities that the business needs. You used to be able to have a five-year project but that isn't true anymore.

"The time to market for our capabilities and velocity at which we tick is something that bothers me all the time. What we've done in the last couple of years is try to orient ourselves around our business needs.

"The business needs to improve its time to market - but what is it that really has to happen to achieve that? We've gotten very precise - and in the case of Intel it's our System on Chip - in how we have to improve our time to market.

"We went to our engineering teams and asked what were the bottlenecks - we mapped the process and looked at what IT could do to help."

Stevenson said that a year ago they set a goal of taking 12 weeks out of their SoC time to market, something Intel is set to achieve.

Frictionless information

While Stevenson's biggest challenge is velocity and moving at the pace of the business, she said that Intel staff would offer a different response.

"You ask Intel employees what do they want different from IT - they want to find information faster," she said.

"They want search to be as good with our internal documents as it is in the customer world, but you know when you lock things down it's not searchable.

"Companies like us have grown up making it hard to have frictionless information, but unfortunately it's not as simple to solve as putting in a search client."

Stevenson said that, like every organisation, Intel runs on a constrained budget with 90% of prioritisation going towards business value in the context of the company's corporate goals. The other 10% is on the advance technologies "I know we need to invest in; advanced innovation that may not come to bear for five years" - but she explained that this also includes the cultural catalysts and changes the organisation needs to make.

Getting social

"We are doing a lot of social stuff," she said. "We have a base platform with communities, profiles, skill sets and ways of finding experts.

"We've recently changed provider and I would envision another platform in a year or two; they're evolving that fast. To me it doesn't matter what the vendor is.

"We've always been engineering led. Decisions weren't always necessarily top down, but the best technical person usually had the decision-making power.

"But it's always been a 'need-to-know' culture, we protect our intellectual property so everything is locked down. Previously the first response to any question would be to ask 'why do you need to know?' The big cultural change we're trying to make is to expose our skill sets and our projects in a collaborative manner.

"I have to develop products from wearables up to servers, phones, tablets, PCs. There's some common things, like Bluetooth. Previously we'd have separate experts but now we want to work across that. Sharing is the reality we face so we're using collaborative tools to expose that information and enable people to get to it."

Wearables and IoT

Intel is also moving forwards with its own internal Internet of Things deployments, Stevenson said.

These are from the more basic, like digital signs tied into the company's scheduling system and motion sensors which can tell if you a meeting room is actually occupied - to the Intel factory where a number of processes and tools are connected.

However, Stevenson said, when it comes to IoT and wearables "we have a lot of security concerns around how data is protected and the privacy of other individuals".

"We're still working through the security model and privacy concerns, but we're making cautious progress," she said.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act