Intels Barrett: ITs Still Alive

At OracleWorld, Intel CEO Craig Barrett climbed into a Ford concept car to prove the point that IT is still a competitive requirement in today's economy.

SAN FRANCISCO—The report of ITs death was an exaggeration; so says Intel Corp. CEO Craig Barrett.

Sending a message resembling author Mark Twains famous quote, Barrett speaking here at OracleWorld sought to refute the premise of the recent Harvard Business Review article "IT Doesnt Matter," by Nicholas Carr.


Barrett went so far as to ride inside one of Ford Motor Co.s three Ford GT40 concept cars with its principle engineer to prove his point, asking a stream of onstage guests whether IT matters. The answer to a one: Yes.

"If youre going to be competitive in todays economy, especially in the world economy, you need to tailor your business around the latest IT infrastructure," said Barrett, whose Santa Clara, Calif., company is the worlds largest chip maker

For Barrett, information technology has reached a stage where the question of whether it matters has already been answered conclusively. The real question is whether companies can use IT effectively to compete in an increasingly global economy where emerging economies are prepped to take on the established ones of the United States and Europe.

In the Ford example, the Detroit automaker set an ambitious goal of designing a high-performance automobile to take on the likes of the Ferrari 360 within 22 months. To do it, a team of 34 used a range of virtual-reality technology to allow them to simulate CAD models of the new Ford GT against competitors. Production on the Ford GT is slated to start in the spring of 2004. The team even bought a Ferrari and picked it apart in order to create a lifelike simulation, said Jamal Hameedi, Ford GT program manager.

"I couldnt imagine doing this without IT," Hameedi said.

Another of Barretts guests, Music Match Inc. CEO Dennis Mudd, said his company is on the verge of introducing a legal way of purchasing songs online. Though he didnt give a date for the launch, he said the service would provide a way for Music Match users to buy songs either from a personalized site that highlights songs likely to be of interest to a given user or from a site featuring the companys charts of top songs.

Music Matchs move comes as the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. sues people who have shared large numbers of copyrighted songs on online peer-to-peer networks.

"The music industry is in a crisis," Mudd said. "The big solution is not going to happen until the legal alternative is better than the illegal opportunity in peer-to-peer."

Not only is IT still alive, Barrett said, but a set of trends should continue to keep IT relevant to enterprises and consumers. They include the convergence of computing, communications and content; the push toward open systems and standards; and IT solutions that emphasize higher performance at lower prices.

"The constant demand for more and more and more with fewer resources is the biggest challenge we face," Barrett said.

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