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June - 2012 - issue > CIO Insights
Moving to Cloud & Mobile is pertinent for Businesses
Walter Curd
Friday, June 1, 2012
Walter Curd is the VP and CIO for Maxim Integrated Products. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Maxim Integrated Products (NASDAQ: MXIM) is a $2.5 billion in annual revenue that makes highly integrated analog and mixed-signal semiconductors. In his current position Curd has led a modernization effort of infrastructure and applications that has begun to produce substantial business benefits. Curd insures that Maxim is an early adopter of consumer technologies, cloud computing, and most recently enterprise social networking. Prior to joining Maxim, he built the Information Technology Services organization for Marvell Semiconductor to support their growth from $300M to over $3.0B during his tenure. He has also led the IT organizations for Fujitsu, Electroglas, and CyberIQ Systems.

Changing Technology Trends

The real overriding trend is the complexity that is increasing. The reason being that for 10 – 15 years excluding the dot com there were a clear set of enterprise IT vendors. We were equipped with the SAP or ERP; we had the Microsoft on the desktop CISCO on network.

Something that has fundamentally changed in the last 3 – 4 years is the whole conception piece. Consumers are becoming more IT savvy and consumer IT way surpassing enterprise IT. Big companies have big margins and the gap between the consumer offering and enterprise IT is expanding. With the growing amount of consumer offering we have several options in the major computing world. Such things are observant by the Silicon Valley. It has been different here and it has been in the rest of the country for the last three years. We had three booms going on in the same time, 'Cloud', 'global' and 'social'. From consumers stand point everything is cloud. Whereas from an enterprise stand point the rise of companies like 'Salesforce.com', 'Workday' that provide single purpose sort of cloud solutions. It not only provides you with an opportunity to do things faster but also at a lower cost. This really increased the complexity.

Earlier you would buy application from Oracle or SAP. But now we are in a much more fragmented situation— the reason being the solutions that are being provided by various cloud vendors today. These solutions are easy to implement as we are free from the technical complexities on the back end. Taking a look at the cloud standpoint at Maxim, we push a lot of things. We are Salesforce and Workday customers and our strategy is to avoid buying in-house software application unless there is no other way to do it. We focus on the innovation of infrastructure but more than that, we focus on application.

The cloud revolution is on and we are focused on migrating to it. Immigration to cloud means, before we implement it, we need to make sure that we have listed we are universally tied to it, and we can move the data back and forth properly. That is how the cloud has affected us. Additionally, the mobile revolution in my view has been great for consumers and great for business. The conferences I attended I notice they talk about mobile and they get stuck on the hardware side. Because they think mobile is about hardware but the fact is, it's not. Now everyone is already mobile. With this you not only can work from anywhere but are forced to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

From an enterprise IT stand point the issue with mobile is way beyond hardware i.e. really transforming the IT organization to think from a mobile capacity standpoint on the application side because the traditional programming methodology the traditional thought process is around functionality and mobile is an after part. Thus my big challenge is moving mobile in the forefront of application development so that anything we do is usable on mobile platform and that was the cloud mobile, and on the social side which seems like the least relevant to the enterprise IT organization.

The technology / enterprise problem

We do not have to deal with software or technology problems. Take a look at the U.S. technology the real problem is with the people in the process. From IT standpoint it’s about buying the top notch people and retaining the top notch people to be able to execute on these technology. Whereas from the people standpoint having the people in the business with the a vision to make use of these technologies, who have a proper focus on the business side and the IT side in order to drive the usage of that, to define the benefit and to achieve the benefit. Technology moves forward but people move forward at a slower rate. If you have the technology but lack of people in the business to take advantage, it won't work. It's a very mundane thing but it's a fact.

Driving Innovation within the team

It's a lot easier here in Silicon Valley to be innovative. I have a good team of people. It's not a significant amount of money but I call it we are in the budget. So have our research and development compounded of IT. Constantly pushing these guys and they are pushing me as well. We keep trying out new technology. For instance 3-4 years ago the price point got to a point where may be two years ago where you could make a reasonable cost effective argument. So we started putting up everything on laptop and this speeds the performance by five times. It's a rational case we started doing it. A lot of companies are not even doing now but some of them are. After this we looked at ways to discourage to the use of our data center. Because if we can speed up are business intelligent reporting by five times speed up or engineering simulation, there is a massive marketing impact. There are people working on evaluations and some of the newer technologies.
So that's an innovation thing. Whereas training for people, we have conferences where we quiz the people to network with their peers to see what they are doing. It's similar to giving order to your troop and finding out what is happening in the rest of the valley the rest of the industry and IT in general and tracking what the technology does and what they can do for Maxim.

IT initiatives at Maxim

We are a 28 years old company and we are into manufacturing and also high volume transaction. So we do a lot of fundamental things that has to be there and that have to be fixed. We are really fixed on showing our sort base set of application as well our infrastructure. I have been here for four years. We are now focused on pricing and coding as well as upgrading our manufacturing system that are not modern. The social side has driven for a couple of years and mobile devices which are a sort of BYOD policy for several years. The transactional application is to keep the company running. We have been into manufacturing, sales and engineering and is a big function. For engineering we hire engineering architecture the way we do engineering from a computing stand point and basically been able to speed up our simulation times by nearly 50 percent.

Future outlook

For us, we are adamant that there would be no more in-house applications. We essentially have no reason to buy in-house software anymore and are moving much of our non core functionalities to the cloud. That will help in freeing up some of the resources to. We are making everything mobile and become pretty much device agnostic. Our initiatives are focused on more process and people. The program management office is focused on engaging with business executives and making sure we understand the key performances and indicators and then working with them to get technology that will push them either forward.

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