I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Bill Miller Jr., CIO of Broadcom - an extraordinary networking company and incredible partner for Extreme Networks. In a video interview with Robert Scoble , Broadcom CEO, Scott McGregor, revealed some stunning stats about the company including that 99.98% of internet traffic around the world goes through Broadcom technology, 1 billion dollars was invested last year in wireless technology and the company made 2 billion connectivity devices just last year.
With more than 25 years in a variety of information technology leadership roles, Miller says the secret to Broadcom's amazing company profile boils down to leading with innovation. For Broadcom this means providing efficiency to the world by designing a form factor that is as small, super-low power and cost efficient as possible - without sacrificing functionality. As a builder, user, seller and supporter of their own products, Miller enjoys the unique perspective gained from sitting at both sides of the table.
As the CIO of an incredibly innovative company, and one of the fastest growing semi-conductor companies in the industry, Miller shares with us how CIOs can go beyond the traditional IT role to working on projects that transform the business.
7 Core IT Components that Enable CIOs to Lead with Innovation
1. Gain execution velocity through collaboration - According to Miller, "For fast engineering, collaboration is king." Broadcom has acquired over 50 different companies over the last decade. In order for their 20+ engineering teams to have the ability to create phenomenal content, they need to be able to interoperate over a global landscape to produce a chip in a timely fashion. "When you are sharing IP across a global footprint, being able to work as a team and work on a project collaboratively is crucial," says Miller.
2. Think globally, act locally - Broadcom IT is rock the cradle of innovation through remote engineering lab support. Broadcom has several hundred labs around the world. Providing engineers with these labs allows them to work on the details and work out the kinks of new technology in a small corner of the organization before taking it en-mass and connecting it to their larger network. Engineers are able to access these tools remotely from their offices, as well as from the lab.
3. Adopt a customer-centric view - Successful companies will make it easy for their customers to do business with them. "We want customers to get the answers to the questions they have and have access to documentation and the latest information on how to best use the design in our products," says Miller. This view extends beyond the obvious external customers, to their internal customers as well. By providing their customer service reps with a lot of content, such as technical briefs and problem solving information, the internal customers are equipped to help the external customers.
4. Maintain operation integrity - Operation integrity is a foundation for IT to innovate and serve customers and includes cyber-protection, having amazing uptime statistics and having big data and analytics capabilities to name a few. Maintaining the operation integrity is based on having good, solid, reliable and repeatable business processes and disciplines. Because of the fast pace of growth that Broadcom experienced, they failed to initially put in repeatable processes and disciplines. When Miller became CIO, he spent a lot of time working with his team to establish more discipline. By adding a product management group, they have been able to develop processes which reduce risk and allow IT to chase a set of higher value, innovative objectives and do it in a disciplined fashion.
At the very base level if don't have the degree of operational integrity that most CEOs and CIOs strive for, you end up doing things twice. By having more first pass success, you do less work which gives you more bandwidth to do innovative activities - the transformational projects that are exciting for CIOs.
5. Employ professional project managers - In an MIT Sloan video, Miller talks about the importance of having the hot skills of data science, data analytics and business intelligence. But Miller also states that it is essential to bring good quality project management skills to the table as well. The reason we need more professional project mangers (and even program managers) is because for large complex IT initiatives we assemble technology from more and more places every day. We are system engineering more solutions in the IT world today than we ever have before and those people who have good project management skills are the most qualified to do this. However, building this competency into an organization doesn't just happen; it must be done intentionally and methodically.
6. Leverage metadata to foster business agility - For Broadcom, big data relates to leveraging metadata to learn about all the engineering jobs that they run. In simulations alone they run well over 1 million jobs a day and all kinds of metadata about these jobs exist, forming a rich fabric of information. This data can be used to learn about efficiencies and inefficiencies in order to shorten the cycle to go to market. The goal in collecting and analyzing this information is to affiliate the success of these run times with specific endeavors to get a better understanding of the mix of the components that go into delivering a total project and learn how they can do better next time. "Time to market is everything in this space, so it's important not to run extra cycles in our development life cycle and this data helps us to do that," says Miller.
7. Proactively, and systematically collect customer feedback - There is not a lot of Shadow IT at Broadcom because Miller decided early on that the support of engineering would be lodged in the IT organization, which naturally squelches the demand for IT in engineering. IT developed a process where they get rated annually by their 20+ engineering organizations. IT uses the feedback to improve and addresses the engineering needs going forward. Miller says it is a healthy process that removes the spontaneous generation of IT functionality that so often happens out of frustration.