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  1. 1. Elsa Pairaud Professional Management Skills Assessment Paris – ISEG SUP 2E – November 4, 2010 Professional Management Skills AssessmentAMD: A Customer-Centric Approach to Innovation
  2. 2. Table of ContentsIntroduction....................................................................................................................... page 3AMD’s past and prospective growth ............................................................................... page 5Differentiating to increase market shares ....................................................................... page 9Conclusion and recommendations.................................................................................. page 12Bibliography..................................................................................................................... page 13Appendixes ...................................................................................................................... page 15 2
  3. 3. IntroductionThe twentieth century was characterized by many essential innovations that changed theface of the world and the way people deal with each others.Television, personal computers, Internet, therefore contributed to make the world global.Information available anywhere, at anytime and to anybody facilitates exchanges at anincreased rapidity. As David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson say, “there are seven billion peoplein the world from myriad different cultures, but we live in a village where events taking placeten thousand miles away seem as close as events happening in the next street”1.The ascension of personal computers, from the first pre-IBM PC in the seventies to therecent invasion of notebooks on the market, can surely be considered as the most significantinnovation of the last decades. According to a study carried out by the Computer IndustryAlmanac Inc., “worldwide PCs in-use has grown from 98 million units in 1990 to over 1.2billion systems in 2008 and is projected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014”2.If the first microcomputer using a microprocessor (Intel 8008) was released in 1972 with90,000 units sold, the first Personal Computer was actually created in 1975 and included themonitor, the keyboard and the number pad. It was consequently considered as a fullyassembled PC. The demand for Personal Computers was immediately incredibly high, andcould not stop growing throughout the years: from less than 50,000 units sold in 1975, “thePC industry has grown to unit sales of over 280 million units in 2009”2.Such an innovation was possible thanks to the creation, in the fields of microelectronics, ofboth the integrated circuit (developed in 1959), and the microprocessor (developed in 1971).The first innovation enabled the miniaturization of computer circuits, whereas the size of thecomputer’s central processing unit (or CPU, processor) could be reduced to the size of asingle silicon chip thanks to the microprocessor.Components of a Personal Computer are called computer hardware. This hardware will thenbe the base for the computer’s operating system and multiple software applications that willperform functions programmed by the user.As shown in figure 1 in appendix, the hardware of a modern Personal Computer is composedof several elements. Featured in the motherboard, the CPU is one of the most essential partsof the computer’s hardware and is considered as the machine’s brain. The CPU indeedreceives and processes each and every data sent by the Random Access Memory. In orderfor the CPU to be able to process those data, its instructions have to be codified tounderstand different types of software programming such as C, C++ or Java. There are1 Working Globally, Second Edition. By David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson. Published by Berrett-KoehlerPublishers in 2009. Chapter 1 page 5.2 Computer Industry Almanac Inc. is a company that publishes market research reports for the PC and Internetindustry. Data here were published in the yearly adapted report “Worldwide PC market”, available at th Accessed on October the 5 , 2010. 3
  4. 4. different types of CPUs on the market, each of them being programmed differently. PowerPC for Mac and x86 for PC are some examples of available CPUs. Those different CPUs aremanufactured by several companies such as Intel and AMD, as we will see in this report. Firstmicroprocessors were created in the United States, in the Silicon Valey, by Ted Hoff at IntelCorporation3.Since CPUs are able to process many different data and answer to much diversifiedinstructions, the potential for developing their architecture and for increasing theirperformance is rather important. So, the competition on this field is rather fierce.We can consequently say that microprocessors are essential components of PersonalComputers and that the development of computer industry is partly linked to innovations inthis field.In this report, we will therefore focus on AMD’s current and future situation on theprocessors market. We will first study AMD’s prospective growth: Could the company’ssuccess in servers be leveraged to other segments? Then, we will analyze the competitionwith Intel: will Intel’s new product plans hamper AMD’s growth plans? Finally, afteranalyzing AMD’s positioning with the Power Campaign, we will see how the company tries tobuild a competitive advantage thanks to a customer-centric approach: will it yieldcommercially viable innovations that are dramatically different than those Intel will develop?3 From the website The Great Idea Finder, available at th Accessed on October the 5 , 2010. 4
  5. 5. 1. AMD’s past and prospective growthSince its early beginnings in California in 1969, Advanced Micro Devices, known as AMD, hasbeen developing computer processors for both consumer and commercial markets. AMD’sbusiness consists in manufacturing semiconductors, and its strategic business units arevaried: from microprocessors to motherboard chipsets and graphic processors, all designedfor servers, workstations and personal computers. 1 core • Manufacturing business semiconductors • Microprocessors 2 SBUs • Graphic cards • Computing • Graphic 3 main applications markets • General Public ElectronicsIn the field of microprocessors, AMD develops products based on the x86 architecture. Thecompany is currently the second largest global supplier for such products behind Intel4.If AMD was first a licensed second-source manufacturer of Intel’s processors thanks to acontract with the leader, the Californian firm then developed its own solutions (with the K5processor, launched in 1996) and signed partnerships with several PC manufacturers likeIBM. The reason for this success was probably AMD’s positioning, consisting in deliveringlow-price alternatives to Intel’s products.But because of entry barriers and competition, increasing market shares and generatingprofits has not been easy for AMD throughout the years.On such a technical market, it appears that the Key Factors to Success are as follows:4 Business PME website, available at thAccessed on October the 6 , 2010. 5
  6. 6. Technological know-how in processors development Microprocessors market Partnerships Financial with PC capacity to manufacturers invest in R&DThanks to its progressive ability to master those factors, AMD managed to raise its marketshares to around 15% in 2009, while Intel’s shares amount to around 80%5.AMD’s success truly started in 2003 when the company developed 64bits extensions(replacing 32bit computing). This technology was first launched with the processor Opteron,which was server-oriented. Athlon64 then brought Opteron to Personal Computers’architecture. One of Opteron’s core advantages was that it was compatible with previous32bit architectures. Contrary to Intel’s Itanium, it could therefore support existing software.But developing an efficient microprocessor is not enough to enable gaining market shares. Itis actually essential to make sure PC manufacturers will build platforms for this specificmicroprocessor.However, AMD did not at this time benefit from particularly high quality brand awareness.As Henri Richard, executive vice president at AMD in 2007 says, “we lacked credibility andhad no history in the segment. We couldn’t be a player in the server market without thesupport of the tier-one OEMs that controlled it”6.This is the reason why AMD decided to focus on a go-to-market strategy, aiming at buildingagreements with OEM (original equipment manufacturers) to build platforms with AMDmicroprocessors inside. This strategy was named MAID, for Microsoft, AMD, IBM and Dell,the current market leader. Many barriers existed with those manufacturers, mostly becauseof Intel’s leading position on the market. Thanks to its “Intel Inside” campaign, Intel wasindeed known by both manufacturers and end users, and its image was everywhere on the5 AMD, Intel post solid Q3 results; now for the hard part. Accessed on Connect: thAccessed on October the 6 , 20106 From “AMD; A customer-centric approach to innovation” by Elie Ofek and Lauren Barley, published onJanuary 31, 2007. Page 6, page 4, page 8, page 10. 6
  7. 7. computing market (ads, Intel Inside logo...). Thanks to this marketing campaign, Intelmanaged to “persuade end-users of the processor’s importance in the computer purchasedecision”6. It was consequently rather difficult for AMD to tackle such a dominated market.Nevertheless, thanks to better performance at a lower price, AMD managed to tackle severalresearch labs and universities. This first step enabled AMD to build serious brand awarenessfor Opteron. Thanks to a diversified offer in performance, Operon soon tackled each part ofthe market: the Opteron 100 (one processor) and the Opteron 200 (two processors) for avolume strategy with OEMs’ desktop series and the Opteron 800 (four processors) for nichemarkets such as research labs. Opteron could therefore be considered as a verycomprehensive offer.The next step was to convince Microsoft. The company indeed “showed little inclination tocreate an operating system for Opteron, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars todevelop. Microsoft had already designed an operating system for [Intel’s] Itanium and wasworking on Vista”6. But AMD’s strategy was to bring diversity on a market where Intel had nosustainable competitor. Competing with Linux, Microsoft was aware of the need for lowerprices. This is the reason why AMD, with its price-reducing strategy, appeared to be the bestalternative to Intel’s products. “End users and OEMs understand competition is a good thing. All they were waiting for was a credible alternative in servers. [AMD] brought much more – we brought a fantastic opportunity for the market to break free”. Henri Richard6The next step was to convince OEM’s to use Opteron. If they were first frightened by 64bit(where they ready?), AMD managed to communicate on Opteron’s advantage: it wascompatible with 32bit architecture and gives a great path to the future of 64bit computing.As a result, in 2004, both Sun and HP were using Opteron-based server platforms. Dell joinedin 2006.Then, AMD had to think about continuing to innovate. Could its success in servers withOpteron be leveraged to other strategic segments such as corporate desktops andnotebooks?During the past ten years, those two last segments experienced a sharp growth. As you cansee on the figure 2 in appendix, built from data featured on the report about Worldwide PCmarket by Computer Industry Almanac this year, the market is considerably changing. As wecan see, Server segment, that AMD tackled with Opteron, is steadily growing but remainsquite insignificant compared to Desktop PCs and Mobile PCs. The mobile PC segment gathersall laptop, notebook, netbook and emerging tablet PCs. Those markets consequentlyrepresent very large opportunities for processors developers such as Intel and AMD.The server segment was indeed rather small in volume and could not offer satisfying growthperspectives, especially compared to desktop and mobile segments. With Athlon64, thecompany had already offered a product on such a market, but its market shares remained 7
  8. 8. rather low. Actually, this market, gathering corporate desktops andnotebooks, was at this time totally dominated with Intel thanks to its “IntelInside” strategy. In the early 2000s, almost every PC featured this logo, whichmade end-users believe that choosing a computer also relied on choosing aprocessor. But comparing processors is not really relevant, since their Intel Inside logo ( depends on their architectures. Most of the time consumersonly using PCs for Internet, simple games and office automation software are not sensible to achange in processors.What opportunities to grow for AMD?First, it seems that the server segment, on which AMD is already well established, willcontinue to grow steadily partly because of home PC servers. According to the reportpublished by Computer Industry Almanac, those home PC servers will enable to coordinateseveral PC activities inside the house.Then, mobile devices will be the most attractive segment in the next decade. Thanks to theireasy portability, they will become extra supports for professionals and the second PC forhome users and travelers.On the market of notebook PCs, AMD introduced in 2005 the AMD Turion™ 64 mobiletechnology. In the meanwhile, the firm also developed the first dual-core technology on thedesktop segment with AMD Athlon™ 64 X 2 dual-core processor7.In the segment of mobile devices, AMD is actually throwing its hat into the ring as shows thefigure 3 in appendix.As a result, it could be interesting for AMD to strengthen its position on the rather stableserver market, and to invest sharply in the mobile PC market, which represents the mostinteresting prospective growth.7 Data coming from AMD’s corporate website, available at thinformation/Pages/timeline.aspx. Accessed on October the 7 , 2010. 8
  9. 9. 2. Differentiating to increase market sharesTo tackle the mobile segment, AMD has to take up several challenges. There is no doubt thatthe company has the capacity to develop processors that are as efficient as its competitors’.Consequently, it not so much on the product itself that the difference has to be made.Indeed, latest innovations for both Intel and AMD have proved that the companies wereable to challenge computing evolutions, with notebooks and netbooks, and that theirtechnological know-how was not to be questioned.As a result, we can consider that apart from being constantly aware of the environment’schanges and required innovations, AMD’s strategy has to focus on three main axes: Improving the brand awareness among end- users Improving the brand awareness among OEMs Implementing a customer-centric approach to differentiate from Intel and to insist on AMDs specific positioning 1. Developing the network with PC manufacturersAll along the years, AMD tried to build strong partnerships with OEMs to ensure itsmicroprocessors will be implemented in PCs architectures. In order to convince thosepartners, AMD developed the world’s first dual-, quadric-, 8- and 12-core x86 processors.Those platforms were offering significant advantages in data center use, delivering highperformance and power efficiency. Thanks to high research on performance-per-dollar andperformance-per-watt, AMD appears to be the best solution on a power consumption pointof view. Delivering higher performance with similar power consumption at a lower priceseems to be AMD’s core competence. The company therefore has to communicate on thosecompetences to increase its number of partners among PC manufacturers, research labs, tomake them use its processors. 9
  10. 10. 2. Improving brand awareness among end-users and general public.Intel’s strength was to make its brand visible everywhere and to ensure of its brand’sadoption among manufacturers. It has been enabling the company to acquire a leadingposition on the market for several years.This is the reason why AMD has to answer by implementing an adapted marketingcampaign. Actually, the company tried to a few years ago, with its “Power Campaign”. Thiscampaign, designed for IT decision-makers, promoted ecology concerns in the field ofmicroprocessors. According to Henri Richard, “today, people buy IT technology withoutconsidering the amount of power it consumes”Erreur ! Signet non défini.. In a world whereconcerns about power consumption and energy savings are becoming more and moreessential, IT decision-makers cannot ignore those issues anymore, and have to be “powerconsumption-friendly” to comply with managers’ and legal frames’ expectations. This is thereason why such a positioning was rather smart from AMD. Concerning companies, thePower Campaign was totally justified because they must more and more think about theirpower consumption. But are end-users as concerned about those issues? If it is obvious thatsuch concerns have their importance, it should not be the only specification on which AMDshould communicate, because end users by a computer for the service it will provide, andnot for its hardware.The point here is to simplify the PC buying experience thanks to the introduction of a newtechnology supposed to highlight the experience the PC will provide instead of focusing ontechnical specificities of hardware components. This new technology is called VISIONtechnology. This innovation enables the consumer to choose a computer regarding how hewants to use it.Competing with Intel’s Centrino, this new technology confirms AMD’s consideration aboutconsumers not focusing on components specifications but on the way they will use theirequipment. This strategy makes AMD closer to consumers’ needs and expectations.Figures 4 and 5 in appendix present this Vision technology.AMD’s positioning with Vision is a success because it focuses on consumers’ experience andprovides a comprehensive architecture at a lower cost. As a proof for a succeededpositioning, many PC manufacturers such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI and Toshibaalready confirmed that they would launch PCs equipped with this platform8.Such a step confirms AMD’s new strategy consisting on resorting to a customer-centricapproach.8 Information coming from the article AMD Vision Technology : vers des PC portables plus performants etmoins chers published in May 2010 on the website available at thchers.html. Accessed on October the 7 , 2010. 10
  11. 11. 3. Implementing a customer-centric approach to differentiateFor Hector Ruiz, COE of AMD in 2007, a customer-centric strategy consists in “solving acustomer problem or address a specific need”9. It is about listening carefully to whatcustomers say about the product, how they would improve it.Actually, what must be understood by “customer-centric approach” is the fact thatcustomers are not just at the end of the value chain of a company. Customers are rather“the vital core element without which the business would not exist”, as explained in thereport “Customer-Centric approach”, a project published by Anirudh Singhania, CEO ofSoftnet Solutions (available at, the core focus of a company is to generate profits. But if we think about howprofits are generated, we surely notice that customers are the ones who are willing (or not)to pay for the products the company offers. In this way, they are the one that generateprofits of a business. And, if all profits come from customers, it appears to be logical to focuson this source of profits. Integrating customers’ concerns all along theproduction/development process therefore enables to ensure the product or service suitscustomers’ expectations and will gather all elements to experience a success.As we can see in figure 6 in appendix, a customer-centric organization is totally set uparound the customer.In the facts, such an approach can consist in opening architectures, such as AMD’s Torrenzaproject that opens Opteron’s architecture. AMD’s customer-centric approach helped thecompany to make customers loyal, to improve its brand awareness and to developedproducts that are more adapted to the market’s latest evolutions. To sum up, we canconsider that “AMD has the resolve to fulfill customers’ needs and expectations”10. In acompany where satisfying consumers is not enough anymore, and where delightingcustomers is a daily challenge, we can be sure that AMD has all the tools to fight against Intelin a more and more challenging environment.9 From “AMD; A customer-centric approach to innovation” by Elie Ofek and Lauren Barley, published onJanuary 31, 2007. Page 1310 Dennis Fisher and Jeffrey Burt, “AMD Processor Chief : Commercial Space, here we come”,January 2006, available at,1895,1907684,00.asp, accessed on October the th7 , 2010. 11
  12. 12. Conclusions and recommendationsIf AMD first used to be considered as Intel’s follower on the microprocessors market, it isnow obvious that the company has developed all necessary tools to challenge the long-timeleader. AMD’s ability to constantly innovate was the key element for the company’sdevelopment all along the years. Being the first one to develop dual-, quadric-, 8- and 12-core x86 processors enabled AMD to position itself as an interesting alternative to Intel’sproducts. The market indeed used to be monopolized by Intel, and OEMs could thereforenot take advantage of a competing market. To be more and more efficient and to offer thebest alternative to users, OEMs indeed have to take advantage of a lower bargaining powerof suppliers. As a consequence, increasing the number of suppliers on the market can onlybe positive to them. And AMD soon understood the game. Its platforms were offeringsignificant advantages, delivering high performance and power efficiency. Delivering higherperformance with similar power consumption at a lower price therefore seems to be AMD’score competence.Taking advantage of its success on the servers’ market with Opteron, AMD leveraged thissuccess to the two other segments: corporate desktops and notebooks. AMD was also strongin understanding that end-users’s buying behavior: they are not focusing on performanceand hardware specifications, but more on the experience the machine will enable them tolive. Thanks to its efficient customer-centric approach, that could be defined as a way ofdoing business while focusing on creating a positive customer experience. AMD’s VISIONTechnology therefore provides improved performance and battery life, consequentlyoffering higher quality and higher quantity.It therefore seems that AMD chose to focus on servers (with a low growth rate) and onPersonal Computers with its VISION Technology, experiencing an interesting growth.But several challenges are actually growing: Tablets like Ipad do not featuremicroprocessors, and AMD’s market shares in mobile devices remains very low.In order to deal with those challenges, several opportunities are to be thought about. Apartnership with the company Oracle, developing hardware and software, seems to bepossible and would enable AMD to benefit from a higher cash flow and Oracle to competeon the servers’ segment thanks to Opteron11.In order to face those new challenges, AMD also has to tackle new markets. With its lowprices strategy, the company indeed has an interesting competitive advantage for emergingmarkets such as China and South America. In such markets, the equipment rate is still ratherlow and consumers are very price-focused. AMD therefore has chances to experience asharp and rapid growth.11 From the article AMD parle de l’hypothèse d’un rachat, available at http://www.presence- and accessed on October the 23 , 2010. 12
  13. 13. Bibliography Books and reportsWorking Globally, 2nd Edition. AMD; A customer-centric approach toBy David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson. innovationPublished by Berrett-Koehler Publishers By Elie Ofek and Lauren Barley2009 2007Chapter 1 page 5Customer-Centric approachPublished by Anirudh Singhania, CEO of SoftnetSolutions, available at Websites and articlesDefinitions of a processor, to better understand the market, was found on two is a Swiss Weblog featuring news and tests concerning computing items Available at, for the article on Personal Computer Available at,_exploded_5.svgComputer Industry Almanac Inc. is a company that publishes market research reports for the PC andInternet industry. Website available at Great Idea Finder, available at PME available at’s corporate website available at Vision Technology : vers des PC portables plus performants et moins chersPublished in May 2010 on the website available at Processor Chief: Commercial Space, here we comeBy Dennis Fisher and Jeffrey Burt, in January 2006. Available at,1895,1907684,00.aspAMD parle de l’hypothèse d’un rachatBy David Cidera, in October 2010. Available at 13
  14. 14. AMD renforce ses parts de marché CPU mobilesPublished on August, 2010 on the website Tom’s Hardware, available at VISION: quatre logos pour concurrencer le Centrino d’IntelPublished on September 2009, on the website Laptop Spirit available at Resources on ProQuestAMD, Intel post solid Q3 results; now for the hard part 14
  15. 15. Appendixes Appendi 12 Figure 1 - Hardware of a modern Personal ComputerA computer features: a monitor (1), a motherboard (2), a CPU or processor (3), the Random Access Memory, orRAM (4), some expansion cards (5), the power supply (6), an optical disc drive (7), a hard disc drive (8), akeyboard (9) and a mouse (10).12 Source: picture from Wikipedia. Available at : th,_exploded_5.svg.,_exploded_5.svg. Accessed on October the 5 , 2010. 15
  16. 16. 300 250 200 Worlwide PC Server sales 150 Worldwide Desktop PC sales 100 Wordwide Mobile PC sales 50 0 1990 1995 2000 2005 2008 2010 2014 13 Figure 2 - Worldwide PC sales from 1990 to 2014 (forecast) 100 AMD - 0.7% 80 AMD - 3.3% 60 Intel 40 AMD AMD +1.6% 20 0 Desktop Mobile PC Servers PC Figure 3 – Intel and AMD market shares in the first quarter 14 of 2010 (in %) and AMD’s evolution since first quarter13 Computer Industry Almanac Inc. is a company that publishes market research reports for the PC and Internetindustry. Data here were published in the yearly adapted report “Worldwide PC market”, available at th Accessed on October the 7 , 201014 Data from the article AMD renforce ses parts de marché CPU mobiles published on August, 2010 on thewebsite Tom’s Hardware available at Accessed thon October the 7 , 2010. 16
  17. 17. 15 Figure 4 - AMDs VISION Technology 15 Figure 5 - AMDs VISION Technology explanation15 Form the article “AMD Vision: quatre logos pour concurrencer le Centrino d’Intel” published on September2009, on the website Laptop Spirit available at thportables-afin-de-concurrencer-le-centrino-d%E2%80%99intel.html. Accessed on October the 7 , 2010. 17
  18. 18. 16 Figure 6 - Organization of a Customer-Centric company16 From the report “Customer-Centric approach”, a project published by Anirudh Singhania, CEO of SoftnetSolutions (available at 18