Intel Wins By Staying "Inside the Box"

We all hear that you need to think outside of the box to develop breakthrough strategies. In Intel's case, the winning strategy is more likely to stay "Inside" the box and to stay focused.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Intel was looking to fuel new growth and it shifted away from chips and providing "Intel Inside" solutions. It began creating finished products, web services, and even data hosting services. All of those new business had nothing to do with the strengths that Intel had as a unique competitor. They were de-focusing, too dispensed, leading to corporate ADD types of behaviors in launching those initiatives. While they were distracted, AMD came in and attacked the core business.

Today, under the leadership of Paul Otellini, the company is taking a much more focused approach and betting bigger on fewer areas. This is a perfect example of the formula for success highlighted in our new book, BIG Ideas to BIG Results (FT Press / Pearson Hall). The Intel of today is looking to build on it's expertise in chip manufacturing. And they are clearly looking at the long-term customer trends in the market as the guide on where to extend their market reach.

If the world shifts away from PCs over time to an environment where customers use light, mobile devices to access powerful applications and data over the Internet, then clearly Intel needs to expand beyond PC chips. Based on regaining leadership in high end microprocessors and the announcement of the new Silverthorne chip that will take Intel in the device markets, they are well positioned for this new world. Powerful chips, like their plans for a six-core chip on the server side and processors and flash memory for mobile devices will position them to be "Inside" all of those boxes. The flash memory pricing fell away faster then expected, but that problem will likely be solved and will not stop Intel from pushing forward on the other fronts.

Ortellini said that entering the new markets could increase the total available market for Intel by 3 times. As the next market and technology cycles play out, Intel should be a winner if it can remain focused and executes by staying inside the box. Some companies are always looking to escape the markets that they are in by developing outside of the box strategies, but those are not always the best or most successful.

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