INTEL: DESIGNING TO CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS
Intel develops its next stars through a design process that relies heavily on input from three sources; the people who use computers run by Intel chips; customers; and the architects, engineers, marketing people, and other experts at Intel. The company has a formal process for soliciting the views of its end users: a consortium, consisting primarily of information systems man-agers, meets every four months in the United States and Europe, and every four to six months in Asia.
INTEL’S STEPS TOWARDS CUSTOMER:
- Intel's internal experts combine this customer and end-user input with their own experience and knowledge to brainstorm possible design solutions. "At first, we tend to float our ideas past our field applications force," says Wood.
- "Most of them have computer science or electrical engineering degrees with at least five years' design experience. AH of them work closely with our customers. We'll talk to them to get their opinions about how they think customers will respond to our ideas."
- Intel begins the design process by posing open-ended questions to its assembled experts.
- As their ideas are narrovved to specific types of products, Intel begins to bring customers back into the design loop to test the experts' perceptions.\
- "We are very hesitant, early in the planning stages, to take ideas out to our customer base," Wood says.
- "The issues we are dealing vvith are so advanced that most of our customers haven't usually thought about them yet." Having said that, Wood is quick to point out that Intel takes new product ideas to its customers earlier than it used to, citing customer involvement early in the development of the Pentium processor.
- Involvement vvith key customers occurs at many different points vvithin Intel. Everyone vvho is participating on a product design team has direct responsibility for dealing vvith the customers that have been pulled into the process.
- "in our industry, we need to limit the number of customers involved in the definition phase, but then deal with them in a very öpen and closed-loop fashion," says Wood. "This helps maintain very strong customer relations, which is extremely important to us."
- Intel involves customers and end users in establishing their require-ments, then involves them again in evaluating Intel's responses to those requirements.
- Companies with less sophisticated products and services tend to involve their customers at every phase of the design process, from conception to production, in order to improve communication, keep the focus on customer requirements, and add a valuable outside perspective to the process.
- Intel does not directly involve suppliers in the product definition phase.
- However, if a new technology is involved that affects a supplier's capabilities, the supplier's voice is brought into the team via an internal supplier who works with the external supplier. Other companies are mak-ing external suppliers full members of their product development teams.