Enterprise Insight: Intel secrets revealed to the masses

Enterprise Insight: Intel secrets revealed to the masses

How transparent is your IT operation? Does the rest of the company know how your budget is spent? Your performance against SLAs? Cost per terabyte of WAN traffic? And do key outside constituencies such as customers and vendors also know?

Before Sarbanes-Oxley and the corporate scandals of the late '90s, few businesses cared about transparency. But lately it's become a popular buzzword. Trouble is, it's usually selective. So imagine my shock the other day to receive a glossy, 32-page annual report from Intel. Not its corporate annual report, but its "2006 IT Performance Report".

The report contains more detail on every aspect of Intel's IT operations than I ever imagined a company would dare to publish. From service desk cost per contact to cost per LAN node to tape-out defect rate, it has it all.

The report doubles as a marketing document aimed at Intel customers, highlighting its innovation prowess and its "leadership" on key enterprise IT trends. But in the bargain, the report lays bare Intel IT's governance structure, its key success metrics, how it deploys assets and people, and where it succeeded and failed last year. Here's the really interesting part: Most companies trumpet their successes, but very few will voluntarily admit shortfalls as Intel has done.

The report says Intel's IT delivered less "IT Business Value" in 2006 than it did in 2005, for example - $US400 million less. More than half of the business value claimed was in the supply chain area, so it may have just been that it had caught the low-hanging fruit the year before.

Another example: Intel managed to stop only 61 per cent of its inbound spam in 2006, on a total volume of 42.5 million messages per month. Is that good? Who knows... but at least it's honest. Finally, in the "Performance on Critical SLAs" section, Intel acknowledges that its goal for "performance against schedule" on program and projects was 85 per cent, yet it achieved just 58 per cent.

I point out these trouble areas only to pat Intel on the back for making them transparent. Most of the report highlights successes across the board in areas such as efficiency, virtualisation, and customer satisfaction.

This report is a reflection of the state of IT. Read it closely and you'll learn that Intel struggles with "rogue IT" and is trying to rein it in. That the company has changed its view of who the CIO's number one internal customer is (it used to be the business unit leaders, but it's now the CEO). And that it's raised the bar on how it defi nes (internal?) customer satisfaction - because the ratings were previously too high.

It's these real-life issues, not whitewashed success stories, that make or break an IT organisation.

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