Intel is using the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and data analytics in its own IT estate to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and boost performance, a major internal report has revealed.
Intel IT supports over 106,000 employees in 66 countries, and the report is an intriguing look into how a technology giant tackles the same challenges and opportunities facing the customers and markets it serves.
Perhaps most interesting are the insights into how Intel is embracing the benefits of the IoT in its own facilities.
The report explained that the company has fitted sensors in different environments, such as production and manufacturing facilities, to improve performance and efficiency.
“In one use case, collection and analysis of pressure variation using the Intel IoT Gateway enabled yield improvement in one manufacturing operation,” the report notes.
“In another use case, predictive triggers for electromechanical parts failure in complex test equipment helped to improve output and yield.”
A third project involves using wireless IoT sensors at Intel's data centres to gather information on humidity, power demand, water temperature and air pressure.
“Data analysis identified non-intuitive changes to our existing room power, space and cooling infrastructure, enabling us to design a free-cooling data centre with an average power usage effectiveness of 1.07, cutting annual power costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the report said.
Intel explained that many more such projects are underway with an estimated business value of $30m.
Private cloud perks
Meanwhile, cloud use is also growing rapidly at Intel. The report revealed that 85 percent of all new services installed for the company’s Office, Enterprise and Services divisions are hosted in the cloud.
“We attribute the success of our private cloud to implementing a provider-like cloud hosting strategy, advancing self-service infrastructure as a service and platform as a service, and enabling cloud-aware applications,” the report said.
“Our private cloud saves about $7.5m annually while supporting an increase of 17 percent in operating system instances in the environment.”
Intel has also set up a proof-of-concept environment to test hybrid cloud services based on open source OpenStack APIs.
“Hybrid cloud hosting can provide additional external capacity to augment our own private cloud while enabling us to optimise our internal capacity," the report said.
"Hybrid cloud hosting also increases flexibility, allowing us to dynamically adjust capacity when needed to support business initiatives efficiently.”
The use of data analytics at Intel has also had huge benefits. The report revealed that improved analysis of sales data has helped to grow revenues by $264m.
“Integrating multiple data sources has enabled us to use our decision support system to significantly impact revenue and margins by optimising supply, demand and pricing decisions,” the report said.
“This capability helps our business management teams make critical decisions related to pricing, such as deciding when to raise or lower product prices and when to use rebates.”
Chris Shaw, an Intel IT manager, told V3 that the investment in data analytics had scaled up since 2012 as the organisation proved the value of the project, something all businesses should do to embrace this trend.
"Working in IT at Intel is no different to working in IT at any company, so we look at industry trends like everyone else and have to go through the same justification processes,” he said.
“So for our analytics use we started back in 2013 and focused on one region in Indonesia to help us anticipate demand better. Then we expanded to Europe too.”
This lend to incremental revenue returns of $20m and then $80m as the project expanded.
Shaw said that this model of starting small and then expanding is a good way of testing the waters and moving towards larger returns on the investment.
Collaboration at Intel is also a key trend identified in the report, which showed that 77,000 staff use a third-party collaboration platform. Intel did not divulge which platform they are using.
Shaw said that, while the platform is now helping staff across the world connect and share information, it was not easy encouraging uptake at the start.
To tackle this the IT team introduced functions such as gamification - the use of game thinking and game mechanics - to encourage posting, and worked with a core team in the sales and marketing divisions to get a small unit of dedicated staff to help spread its use.
“It is maybe natural for people to have scepticism about these things and how it will make a difference, but I think the lesson is that, while every company is unique, you need someone to be a catalyst to get things moving,” he said.
Shaw urged other companies to take a similar approach and to recognise that, while they may have their own challenges and unique requirements, the vast majority of tools, from collaboration to HR and ERP, will suit their needs as required.
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