Why Intel’s IT Department Rocks

Do you know what a really good large-enterprise IT department looks like? Yours may be good, but Intel’s is probably better. In fact, it’s so good that every year it puts out a slick 20-page brochure to add up all the benefits it’s delivered over the previous 12 months. Yes, it’s an exercise in PR, but beyond the spin are some amazing achievements and policies that we should all admire and study.
Intel’s 6,300 IT employees at 56 sites worldwide serve 80,000 employees in 62 countries and maintain 91 data centers totaling 458,000 square feet. They definitely don’t sit still. If it’s a buzzword, Intel IT is on top of it.

Its stats for 2010:

– Storage capacity: up 34 percent in the past year
– Network bandwidth: up 61 percent
– Number of handheld devices: up 94 percent
– IT spending vs. revenue: down from 3.3 percent in 2007 to 2.8 percent today
– Carbon footprint: down 2 percent
– Server virtualization consolidation ratio: 20 to 1
– Data center retrofits: $600,000 in energy savings
– Server refreshes: $47 million saved by eliminating all single-core processors
– Storage optimization: $16 million in savings

No wonder the tech team is treated quite well. How’s this compare to what your company does for you?

In 2010 we invested more than $4 million in IT training. Other key initiatives included workshops, rotations, and mentorships. Ninety-five percent of all IT employees have taken a career development workshop, which provided them with skills, tools, and a framework for career building at Intel. Our job rotation program enables employees to move between different IT functions and groups, providing valuable broad experience and facilitating career development opportunities. Participation in our mentoring program, which has matched 853 employees with senior IT leaders, increased by more than 30 percent in 2010. Each year we host a global technical leadership conference that enables IT employees to share ideas from hundreds of technical papers and establish cross-organizational relationships; in 2010, about 500 employees attended.

Another trend that Intel IT has latched onto is the dreaded concept of letting employees use personal smartphones at work. In 2010, the company enabled more than 8,600 employees to use their own smartphones to access corporate information. We all know that IT hates to surrender control and hates the inherent lack of security in personal gadgetry. The fact that they’ve decided to be accommodating rather than obstructive speaks volumes about the value Intel puts on employee morale. I don’t expect every IT team to embrace this concept right away, but it should certainly go on the agenda for your next long-term planning meeting.

The overarching message here is that, as Intel puts it, “IT organizations share a common mission to optimize IT investments and streamline operations to create value for our companies.” We all know about optimizing and streamlining, but that bit about “creating value” is something kind of new in the IT world. Does your department see itself as an integral part of the overall business picture? It should. Your career success will ultimately depend not just on how well you can “connect the pipes” but by how much you contribute to the bottom line.

— Don Willmott

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