The one constant in the worid of computer technology is change. Those are the words of chip giant Intel’s European logistics strategy manager Simon Barrett. After nearly two decades at one of the world’s top, if not the top, silicon innovators, he has seen much change. “This organisation has managed incredible things,” he says.
Over the years Intel has attracted some of the most brilliant minds in science. In 1965 its co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years. This is now widely referred to as “Moore’s Law”, and Intel has kept pace with it for nearly 40 years.
Barrett joined Intel Corporation UK in 1991. He was first drawn to the logistics side of things after spending a threemonth stint consulting for Intel’s logistics operation in Ireland. “When the IT project I was working on, in ERP development, was cancelled, and there was a logistics analyst position available, working for someone I highly respected -I didn’t think twice about applying.”
He has since worked in several different areas within the company and picked up an Executive MBA at the London Business School in 2002. For his dissertation he examined the Intel supply chain in the emerging markets, and recommended a shift in focus from reducing cost to creating value, as well as changes to the direction setting process.
His current role as European logistics strategy manager focuses on improving future investment and trade-off decisions within the organisation through facilitation, argument design and thought leadership in the areas of direction setting, strategy development and benchmarking.
“One of the things I like about my current role is its breadth and variation. What I do in three months time could be completely different from what I did three months ago.” He says one ofthe main challenges involved with his current role is “keeping an organisation aligned to, and making progress to, a direction that’s been agreed.”
Barrett’s role involves acting as a sounding board for Intel managers. What he describes as one of the more tricky sides of the role is “getting beyond the obvious fixes, to deeper underlying solutions, which often involves changing mindsets”, In every company traditional business processes arc deeply ingrained, and at times convincing an industry veteran of the true value of change can be tough.
Barrett has worked hard at promoting internal collaboration within the organisation. He reckons one of the most challenging tasks he has dealt with in the past has been “making deep change happen”. He also points to “path-finding nebulous problems” which leads to enabling an informed make/buy decision, simultaneously with a system’s design.
He reckons the introduction of low cost products represents one of the biggest challenges in the supply chain, particularly in today’s climate, putting “intense pressure on efficiency”. He points to Intel’s Atom processor – its smallest processor which packs 47 million transistors on a single chip measuring less than 26mm2 – as an example.
Its creation represented a fundamental shift in design, being small yet powerful enough to provide for full internet capability. It was built for low power, and designed specifically for a new wave of mobile internet devices and simple, low-cost pes.
Atom processors cost less to produce than most, which is reflected in the price. This then trickles down to the supply chain and means “the supply chain costs need to be reduced accordingly”.
Such high-value products such as computer chips throw up specific thorny supply chain issues. Security is obviously an issue, with the size of the products making them easy to steal. But perhaps an even bigger problem is that average shelf life is short, and as a result need high-performing supply chains to get them from A to B. Barrell lists increasing speed of response as one of the main supply chain challenges.
His proudest achievement involved driving scenario planning for an organisation of 3,000 people, in which he had a direct hand in creating the business’ strategies. “I suppose I should really stan thinking about what I want to do next, but the truth is – I love my job.”
Later this month Barrett will join some of Europe’s top supply chain leaders at the Extended Supply Chain 2009 conference, which takes place at the Sofitel Heathrow in London on 24th and 25th March. Here he will head the session “Intelligent Collaboration”.
“Every interaction is an opportunity for collaboration,” he says, “but how can you reduce the risk of engaging in collaboration, where the costs outweigh the return Intel Corporation is no stranger to either the benefits or the risks of collaboration.”
During the session Barrett will focus on practical lessons that Intel Logistics has learnt about how to encourage multiple organisations to work together in a way that generates results that neither could achieve alone.
• Barrell has been in his current role as European logistics strategy manager for five years.
• Altogether he has spent 1 Z years working in European logistics. Four of these years were spent as a logistics analyst, four in program management, and four in network design.
•1991: He joined Intel UK’s IT deparbnent as a programmer/analyst.
• Barrett has an Executive MBA from London Business School.