Since the dawn of “supply chain” in popular business jargon more than 15 years ago, Intel Corp. has focused on value-chain optimization as part of its core company strategy.
Until recent years, this meant driving efficiency and cutting costs across thousands of suppliers and customers. Today, an innovative approach to corporate collaboration is leveraging supply chain at Intel to not only achieve these results — but also grow a new source of revenue. The benefits go far beyond financial results.
A Data-Centric Vision
For the better part of the decade, Intel has aimed to address explosive demands for a data-driven future — growing beyond its traditional PC and server businesses into products and services that process, analyze, store and transform data, with an emphasis on internet of things (IoT) technology.
The company formed a business unit — Internet of Things Group (IOTG) — which began developing products that utilize sensors, gateways, cloud and edge technologies. It quickly became a key growth area with an enormous pool of potential customers across industries, including logistics, transportation and supply-chain management.
Intel wondered if its own supply-chain unit could help reach supply-chain customers, a market previously untapped by the global tech giant.
Intel’s supply chain reflects its global operations: The California-based company does business in more than 100 countries, with over 14,000 suppliers, 2,000 customers and 12,000 SKUs. Over a terabyte of supply-chain and manufacturing data is processed every day.
While valued in corporate strategy, the supply-chain team was siloed from other departments, and employees were often overlooked in the workplace, says Ninette Vaz, Intel’s global supply chain senior manager.
So she jumped at the opportunity to grow the scope and role of her unit.
The result: A new team called Supply Chain at Intel (or “[email protected]”), led by Vaz, would provide expertise to IOTG — and ultimately other internal business units — to help develop solutions for external markets. The team includes supply-chain regional managers in North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific; software and hardware engineers; and blockchain, AI and digitization content experts.
[email protected] and IOTG embarked on a world tour of diverse logistics facilities, and saw an overwhelming need for digital solutions that could streamline operations — particularly real-time tracking for location and condition of shipments. Months of research, design and testing led to their first collaborative product, Intel’s Connected Logistics Platform, which enabled mobile communication throughout a user’s supply chain via sensor tags and gateway communication.
The tracking tool gained two customers in its first year, and [email protected] has helped secure at least 37 customer deals.
Today, [email protected] projects are increasingly finding supply-chain and logistics use cases for Intel technology. It’s work has generated multimillion-dollar revenue growth and created a host of global partnerships. But product development turned out to be the tip of the iceberg.
The program has helped reshape company culture and create development opportunities — and it’s become an integral part of Intel’s global supply-chain strategy. The ecosystem-driven approach connects Intel’s supply chain organization to its business units, sales and marketing teams so that they’re regularly influencing each other and finding ways to create value. An internal company website helps facilitate communication and provides access to a worldwide network of supply-chain subject matter experts.
A monthly review looks at the engagement pipeline to make funding and alignment decisions — similar to a sales and operations meeting. This governance ensures the program is on track for yearly goals, prioritizing resources and receiving necessary support to move from product ideation to customer deals.
In tandem, an annual “thought leadership roadmap” looks at conferences and events to connect Intel’s business units with supply-chain professionals and, of course, exhibit new products.
By acting as a proxy and thought partner for Intel’s supply-chain customers, [email protected] provides an additional level of client understanding, sharing its digitalization journey at these meetings and forums around the world.
Says Vaz: “A supply chain’s transformation from a functional role to a thought leadership role is possible, valuable and crucial to future success.”