CIOs must disrupt or be disrupted – Kim Stevenson opens up on Intel’s internal IT transformation

Enterprise IT is entering a new, exciting era. Market leadership is increasingly driven by technology in all industries, and a new economic narrative is being written that challenges business models that have been in place for decades.

As these traditional business models shift, CIOs need to make the decisions that move the business. In a nutshell, you can either be the disruptor or be disrupted by someone else, but standing still is not an option.

I believe nearly every major decision today is shaped by technology because technology has the power to transform markets, relationships and processes. How companies deploy social, mobile, analytics, cloud and the Internet of Things to drive growth and increase productivity – and how they redesign business process to apply new insights from these disruptive technologies – is a fundamental theme for CIOs around the world.

>See also: Business transformation and strategic IT: putting the CIO to the test

Innovation is more than mere technology, which, by itself, cannot disrupt or benefit a business. It is the business processes that accompany technology that are the most disruptive to an organisation.

Over the last couple of years, our IT function has developed a strategic alignment with Intel's business units, which has allowed us to better understand our business needs and build trust. As business processes change, we collaborate closely with the units to focus all parties on the desired end state, then take the actions required to reach that.

This strategic alignment and shared objectives has enabled radically improved business performance, which in turn has enabled Intel to generate millions of dollars in new revenue.

We recently released our Intel IT annual report, which highlights how we are delivering valuable innovations through social, mobile, analytics, cloud and the Internet of Things. These innovations are not just ‘cool technology’ – they are driving improved productivity, efficiency, time to market and profitability for all of Intel.

For example, in 2014 our business intelligence (BI) and analytic tools enabled Intel to generate over $350 million in revenue. Over $250 million alone came from integrating multiple data sources into our decision support system. Using this data, Intel has optimised supply, demand and pricing decisions.

A sales and marketing analytics engine generated $76 million by providing valuable information to Intel sales teams, helping them strategically focus their sales efforts to deliver greater revenue. The engine's recommendations identified which customers sales reps should call on and what they should talk to them about. This data significantly shortened the sales cycle and enabled sales reps to reach customers who were previously off the radar.

Sales isn't the only place where advanced analytics has value, however. A pilot project using BI in Intel's manufacturing environment significantly reduced product test time and netted more than $13 million. This reusable big data analytics correlation engine will support additional high-value projects in the future.

For any company, what it comes down to is framing business problems so that you answer the right questions and then marry previously unused or new data to solve those problems.

Agility is another area where IT innovation, closely tied to business processes and objectives, adds measurable value. Today's pace of business is blistering. Doing things the old, slow way is sure to harm competitiveness.

Whether it's developing a new enterprise app or getting a new product out the door, doing it faster than the other guys is important. With the construction of our private cloud, we can provision new web apps in less than one day.

Before server virtualisation, provisioning a new server could take 90 days. Virtualisation helped lower that time to two weeks. But now, with self-service automated provisioning, we can now provision a new server in about 45 minutes.

Intel has over 106,000 employees, and each has knowledge and expertise that can be of use to others. We have found that collaboration tools can help accelerate Intel’s sales objectives, shortening the time to design win in one geographical region by up to 50% in just 90 days and helping sales teams identify multiple new opportunities representing more than $1.5 million in potential design wins.

These achievements are a direct result of how our social collaboration platform enables sales teams to better understand customer needs and advance opportunities more quickly by accessing a repository for best-known methods, broadly sharing market knowledge and increasing worldwide coordination of campaigns.

Security underpins every innovation at Intel, because intellectual property is our greatest asset. Our recently developed Security Business Intelligence (SBI) platform has reduced the time required to identify and investigate malicious activity and respond to potential threats. For example, for a specific threat or incident, the SBI platform reduced the data collection analysis throughput from two weeks to 20 minutes.

This sort of agility has transformed the security landscape at Intel. The SBI platform distills and filters over 10 billion events per day and holds a rolling year’s worth of data –  more than 2 trillion events in 3.5 petabytes of compressed storage.

When I talk to other CIOs I tell them their job is not to keep the business running or partner with the business – they are the business. IT organisations must embed themselves into the business. The business defines the rules and objectives, while IT determines how to achieve those objects and monitors progress.

Intel IT is steadfastly focused on operational excellence and is relentlessly pursuing continuous improvement to keep the business running efficiently while protecting the company’s assets. However, we also continue to create business value by helping to bring products to market faster – sometimes as much as three months faster – and by boosting employee productivity.

Through our use of data analytics, automation and collaboration tools, we have optimised business workflows and unlocked new insights to solve the business’s largest challenges. The bottom line? We are helping Intel disrupt instead of being disrupted in this time of transformation.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...