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3 posts from May 2009

05/28/2009

Harvard Business Review, Al Gore and Creative Destruction - What does that have to do with IMS?

May 28, 2009

Awr





Sherry Hess is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise. For the majority of her career Sherry served in various positions at Ansoft Corporation including director of European operations and later as vice president of marketing. Before joining Ansoft, Sherry spent two years with Intel Corporation, where she worked in the ASIC Group and developed relationships with companies such as Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom. Sherry holds a BSEE and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. www.awrcorp.com.

To comment or ask Sherry a question, use the comment link at the bottom of the entry.


I guess not a lot is keeping you all up at night since no one fessed-up. I lose sleep frequently given my type A personality but that’s a whole different thought topic for a separate blog. However, this “all is quiet” response reminded me of another article I read recently in the Harvard Business Review.  My favorite passage, which I think describes what’s happening amongst us is this... “This hesitancy to make waves becomes stronger in times of general economic turmoil.”


I certainly recognize that many of us are too worried about our own jobs to present an out-of-the-box idea right now and so hopefully my blog can stoke the fires on your behalf.  With IMS nearly here and the economy still in a fragile state, I am reminded of my attendance at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas in early April.  This trade show was huge – certainly much larger in size than I had expected and the keynote speaker on the last day totally caught me off guard -- Al Gore!


He said a number of things that were witty, insightful, self deprecating, etc.  But a phrase from his talk that I had never heard before has stuck with me: “creative destruction.”  It made me think about our wireless world and how significantly technology has changed in only a short decade or two. The concept is, effectively, that to drive an economy forward we will yield to a cycle of creative destruction…think of the typewriter to the computer, land line phones to cellphones and PDAs to today’s touch screen Blackberries and iPhones.  These creative ideas were at a cost to an existing technology but what manifested itself at the end was an even bigger opportunity for market growth.

Gore continued on and offered up what could be current "creative destructors" presently in our midst.  He talked (not surprisingly) about the greening of our energy grid.  Replacing infrastructure that, although costly, time-consuming, and a whole host of other factors /reasons to object to the idea results in a stronger, more thriving economy in the end. Jotting his ideas down here seems anti-climactic to the actual talk, so let me just say, if you have the chance to here him speak live, you should do it.  Ok, so after that show, I came back to my office and googled “creative destruction.” Then my brain started to think about what creative destruction is happening before our eyes right now?  What will we see at IMS that we can classify as “creative destruction?"  

If I parallel Gore’s infrastructure change into RF EDA, I can envision the tool infrastructure trend to be that of full flow design environments vs. disparate point tools that require extensive, time-consuming manual effort.  Look to AWR for inclusion of AXIEM and recently-acquired Analyst for 3D FEM EM into our design environment.  Look to ICED in the DRC/LVS flow.  Look to our founding member status in IPL (interoperable PDK libraries) to move IC vendors to a common PDK philosophy.  Look to our AWR Connected partnerships with Anritsu, Mentor Graphics and shortly Rohde & Schwarz.

Or if I look to our foundry partners like TriQuint, Win and Cree to name a few, there are on-going infrastructure tussle over GaAs, GaN, SiGe, BiCMOS etc for a whole host of applications and markets.  Two topics that immediately come to mind from the IMS' technical program that could be a possible creative destructive topic are: Is GaN ready for system insertion?  and  SiGe/CMOS RF-IC Phased Arrays: will they be used in defense and commercial systems?

Digging a bit deeper, this reminded me of something a high-level person at a big foundry shared recently with AWR....Foundry X is using the current economic uncertainty/time span to review its strategy - to develop new technologies as well as to fill in the details on older ones that we have been too busy (i.e., cranking out wafers) to address.  Is Foundry X and others exploring these new technologies  in anticipation or preparation or precaution to creative destruction?  Time will tell. 
 
In the end, creative destruction is about breaking down legacy barriers in order to spawn new products and grow new markets or expand current market share in a way that advances and benefits the entire industry.  It takes an eye for the future, not the past, and AWR is and always has been a company with its eyes on the future and the possibilities that lie ahead…most importantly how our flagship Microwave Office design environment can provide you with the RF EDA infrastructure /  innovations that will reduce your time to market and give you a competitive edge today, tomorrow and well into the future! 
 

05/19/2009

Evolve, Grow, Differentiate - Deliver Value & Enable Productivity

May 19, 2009

Awr





Sherry Hess is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise. For the majority of her career Sherry served in various positions at Ansoft Corporation including director of European operations and later as vice president of marketing. Before joining Ansoft, Sherry spent two years with Intel Corporation, where she worked in the ASIC Group and developed relationships with companies such as Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom. Sherry holds a BSEE and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. www.awrcorp.com.

To comment or ask Sherry a question, use the comment link at the bottom of the entry.


Do you seek to consolidate your position as an industry / niche leader, strike off in a bold-new market, invest in a new IC process or foundry, or finally bring that great new technology to market?  I call these the evolve options for a tough economy. Or do you hunker down and wait for things to blow over?  "But doing nothing beyond hunkering down simply isn't an option. I feel like I'm sitting in the middle of a railroad track,” says Mr. Davis of Umpqua Bank in the BusinessWeek article , Smart Management for Tough Times, that we've been discussing over the past few weeks. “Standing still is how you kill the company.”

To quote a famous runner, Amby Burfoot, "you win marathons in the hills!"  Translation:  when things get tough and hard, that's when you strike and separate yourself from the pack.  For all the marketers reading this with me -- you differentiate.

Evolve....sounds easy but exactly how do you do that? 

What are others doing in / around our high-tech space?

At a TSMC Technology Symposium I attended recently, their president & CEO Dr. Rick Tsai stated, "We lost more than 60% of our business these past two quarters, but we will be investing to innovate our way out of this recession."  His plan is to evolve and he offered a number of ways in which TSMC would pursue that initiative.  Collaboration is on the increase with customers and partners.  New technologies, processes, and the like are all in the plan, as well as putting the infrastructure in place to support it, which means a 30% hiring boom in R&D and 15% in design services.

TSMC's collaboration message struck a chord with me.  As I've mentioned before, AWR founded its business on the idea of partnering with customers to solve their problems. This differentiation has enabled us to build a very successful, growing company in an entrenched market. And now we believe more than ever that a key strategy for us to come out ahead when this economic environment turns around is to focus on helping our customers come out ahead. Help them be successful, and our success will follow, so to speak.

For all of us, a good place to start is by listening to our customers.  What obstacles are they facing?   Aside from calling them up and asking, you can do some web-surfing, networking, etc. to begin the discovery.  I did a little myself and found that ST Microelectronics' Philip Magarshack was happy to share his needs with the EDA community via EE Times magazine.    The full interview can be found here, http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=172303198&pgno=1 but I'm going to replay just one Q&A exchange:

EE Times question: Is there any overall message you'd like to pass along to EDA vendors?

ST Micro / Magarshack's answer: The big vendors are not able to provide solutions that are needed at all times. Therefore, we use startups. The difficulty is, we lose a lot of effort in stitching together all the pieces among the startups we're using and the mainstream vendors. One of our wishes is to have more standards to help with interoperability. In that respect, OpenAccess [an open, standard database] is providing some hope. We are adopting OpenAccess for our 65-nm platform as the repository for the layout database.

For EDA and in particular the HF end of the spectrum, the trends are about collaboration, breaking barriers on design flow and formats, and empowering designers' productivity.  The old "time is money" adage is more true today than ever.  This trend is one that Cisco believes in as well.  Going back to my Business Week article--the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, states, "The future is about collaboration and teamwork and making decisions with a replicable process that offers scale, speed, and flexibility."  

At AWR, this is what our design flow solutions, Microwave Office, Analog Office, and Visual System Simulator, are all about - scale, speed, and flexibility so you are more productive.  Productivity... likely defined differently by each customer you ask, but still more like shades of grey than black vs. white.  AWR has documented dozens of success stories from customers who say "productivity" is a win for them, including Nokia, Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, Anritsu, Mimix, and Skyworks. Every success story interview we do with a customer invariably mentions productivity as a key to success. Read Success Stories >>

And finally, being responsive to the customer is not a moment in time; it is a continuum.  You need to have a process and culture for identifying key customers and incorporating them into the product life cycle--from product identification and specification through beta testing and training/delivery.  At least that is my opinion and one in which AWR "the collective group of employees" share. 

I'd like to hear from you.  How do you define productivity?  What productivity challenges are keeping you up at night?

05/11/2009

Business 101 - When times are tough you either need to figure out how to make more money or how to save it!

May 11, 2009

Awr





Sherry Hess is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise. For the majority of her career Sherry served in various positions at Ansoft Corporation including director of European operations and later as vice president of marketing. Before joining Ansoft, Sherry spent two years with Intel Corporation, where she worked in the ASIC Group and developed relationships with companies such as Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom. Sherry holds a BSEE and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. www.awrcorp.com.

To comment or ask Sherry a question, use the comment link at the bottom of the entry.


Thanks to the many of you who clicked in to read Week One of my blog!  I appreciate Jorge's comment about President Obama and the US collective voice to change the status quo.  And I like David's comments as well. Especially his final line, "So I agree it is a good time for action, provided the action either helps reduce costs or helps win business."  In fact, that was the direction I had already planned for this week's discussion.

For all of us in the RF & microwave industry--or any other industry for that matter--you don’t need to be a Nobel-winning economist to see that change is in the air. And that when times are tough, you need to either figure out how to make more money or how to save it.  The headlines these past few months likely have us all believing that most firms out there are figuring out how to save money and stay in business by reducing their costs. 

I'm pleased to report that at AWR we are in the minority and and are actually growing during this recession.  Take a look at our recent Financial Release  for a pick-me up / bit of good news if you will. But that's not the point of my blog just yet. 

Ok, so make more money or save what you've got.  I asked the AWR Board of Directors just a week or so ago to share with me what is worrying them these days, and also what concerns the C-level execs at other firms in the tech space whom they advise.  It was unanimous.  Cut costs.

But are cutting costs and making more money mutually exclusive? Certainly not.  It is a two way street, at least from where I sit.  AWR is helping our customers save money by giving them a microwave & RF design platform that provides a lower total cost of ownership vs. any other alternative.  AWR is also helping our customers make more money by empowering them to evaluate design ideas faster and be more productive than their competitors.  If I were to poll our top 10 customers, I'd likely find they are all beating the "norm" for growth these past six months.  Certainly, the success of our customers fuels our own success.

Wow, have I gotten a rise out of any of you yet to comment on this topic?

And thanks to a bit of synchronicity, I found this blog just the other day:

Spin, Baby, Spin – Oracle’s case for spending in a tough economy by Brian Sommer

It was encouraging to read. The main ideas I pulled from it that resonated with me are the following two bullet sections:

Software and service firms can sell in a recession when they possess:

  • products with great ROI - business-usable innovation

  • real innovation (not copying an idea that a competitor introduced five years ago)

  • add-on capabilities, especially strong vertical solutions

  • solutions that can be implemented really fast (think SaaS)

  • solutions with immediate value delivery

  • solutions that do not require a blank check for an implementer to complete

What won’t sell well in a recession?

  • re-packaged suites - new platforms under old applications 

  • generic, horizontal applications

  • re-automation initiatives

Speedometer

Reading through the first section, I nodded with every bullet point and said, "Yes, AWR offers that!" But then maybe I'm biased so let's see what an AWR customer had to say to the informal question - "What makes AWR successful?" The answer: "The formula is simple: Good People + Good Company + Good Product = Great Value" Seriously, is there any better testimonial than that?

Ok, enough on cost savings. I want to either hear more from you on this topic and then next week I hope to switch to the other option presented in the headline: figure out how to make more money!

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