Andy Bryant is a consistent heretic.
In 1998, when Intel chairman Andy Grove first vowed to reinvent Intel as a “100 percent E-corporation,” the CFO simply didn’t believe the Internet was the way to go. “I sat there and said, ‘Great, we replaced fax machines with online orders. Big deal,’” he recalls. Today, with Nasdaq wallowing and the economy looking more blue than “new,” such a claim might smack of revisionism.
But Bryant’s unorthodoxy is reliable; while others now throw stones at anything E-, he has become an Internet convert, making sure that every new business application within Intel is based on Internet or E-commerce technologies. His early contempt for online ordering evaporated overnight when he realized that 26 percent of orders were coming in after hours. That flexibility, he says, “is value to our customers.”
Today, the E-transformation — for both Bryant and Intel — is practically complete. Last year, for example, 90 percent of the company’s revenue — $31.4 billion — came through E-commerce transactions. Likewise, Intel procured more than $5.5 billion in supplies over the Net last year, an increase from zero in 1999. Already, 70 percent of direct and 35 percent of indirect material suppliers are linked to Intel via the Net. This year, Bryant’s goal is to move all materials transactions online.
In all, Intel has launched more than 300 E-business projects since 1998, guided by Bryant’s eBusiness Group, a shadow organization of 2,000 employees who work with the individual business units to make sure that all new systems and applications development are Internet-based. “All of our new projects are launched with an E-business philosophy and backbone,” explains Bryant, the winner of the 2001 CFO Excellence Award for Finance Transformation in the Internet Era. And thanks to his direction at the C-level, he adds, “we have cooperation and collaboration we didn’t have before; we are breaking down the stovepipes.”
Bryant started at Intel 20 years ago as a controller, working his way up to the CFO post in 1994. But oversight of Intel’s Internet initiatives didn’t land in his lap until his 1999 promotion to chief financial and enterprise services officer. That lengthy title came with a commensurate set of new responsibilities, including human resources, information technology, and, of course, E-business.
Ironically, Bryant’s skepticism about E-business helped land him the job. When Grove first established his “100 percent E-corporation” goal, Bryant was unimpressed. “Initially, I thought it was dumb,” he admits. “I didn’t say that too loudly, because Andy Grove is the boss and I’m not stupid. I just thought, ‘This too shall pass.’”
But Bryant’s opinions were no secret. “We are a very open company, and they always knew I was skeptical,” he says. In executive budget meetings, he always argued for more investment in Intel’s basic IT infrastructure, rather than “more money for this E-business stuff.” Apparently, that attitude guaranteed him the job. At a company that believes only the paranoid survive, putting a confirmed skeptic in charge of an enormous Internet initiative seemed like a natural move.