In this TechTalk, Ken Lamneck, president and chief executive officer at Insight, and Greg Ernst, vice president and U.S. sales and marketing general manager at Intel, discuss how their organizations have adapted to a new remote environment over the last six months.
To experience this week’s episode, listen on the player above, watch the conversation below or scroll down to read a complete transcript. You can also subscribe to Insight TechTalk on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.
Published September 8, 2020
Thanks for joining us for another TechTalk. I'm Ken Lamneck, present CEO of Insight, and I'm really pleased to have with us Greg Ernst. Greg is the vice president and general manager for Intel, for US sales and marketing. So, Greg, welcome to TechTalk.
Thank you, Ken. Good afternoon and hi to all of our watchers and listeners.
Yeah, no, it's gonna be a good conversation. So, you know, Greg, we've been in this sort of crazy environment now for six months and it really has become our sort of normal situation and, you know, lots of fatigue out there, lots of monotony for all of us and of course all of our teammates. So, love to get your perspective on what you're doing at Intel to try to stave off that monotony and fatigue that certainly you and your teammates are going through.
Yeah, sure thing. I'm happy to share and we're learning together. I had my leadership team together a couple of weeks ago and really just told them that as leaders, I'm counting on them. The job is so much different than what they signed up to do. At Intel, when we empowered them to manage people or be a second level manager or lead an organization, none of us could have prepared for this.
And so, one, we're really relying on our leaders. They're the ones who need a sustained dialogue with their people. And I would say, at Intel, overall, we're doing a few things. Increased communications and that's from our CEO, Bob Swan, to me. I've implemented a monthly all-hands and each one of my staff members then, they do a monthly all-hands as well and we shift them two weeks. Got way more into the personal, the real, in our conversations, not just business updates. So, increased comms number one.
Number two, been really, really proud of some of the benefits that we've rolled out. Our HR team led by Sandra Rivera have been amazing. And so, we've rolled out a lot of benefits to really help the employees manage the surge of unexpected family obligations that they just, they couldn't have planned for. We're offsetting some of the costs for daycare, we are increasing the spend on technology into their homes. Again, all just to help make their lives at home a little bit easier.
And then the third thing too, is we as leaders, but all of us, we really try to connect at a personal level with our people. My last two all-hands ago, the theme was fighting the funk, which is perfect. It's, you know, just like another way of saying fighting the fatigue. And I opened up by really sharing with the team, what I was feeling. I shared with the team that it's highly unusual for me to have days where I didn't just wanna jump out of bed, where I wasn't self-motivated, where I wasn't at my best, but that's what I've been feeling occasionally. There's been days like that the last six months. So, first of all, I just told the team it's okay, we're all going through that. And then the second thing that my leadership team and I, we shared what are the things about our job and the moments in our job where we feel like our old selves, where we just get that natural adrenaline rush, and whether it's winning a large opportunity with a customer, whether it's solving a customer's problem, whether it's a brilliant marketing idea. What are those things that get us pumped up where we feel like our old self? And then we as an organization, we had a conversation, how do we organically create more of those moments so that the adrenaline rush that we all get working together, still happens. Even if we're not in the same building, we're not in the same conference room, we're not at a restaurant with the customers. So, those are just three of the things that we've done.
Yeah, certainly good practices, Greg. And I think, you know, one of the challenges of course, that you touched on we see is that just that fatigue and the monotony, the challenge is that it's hard to sort of rejuvenate yourself because the weekends aren't that much different than during the week, as far as you can't go out shopping, you can't go out to good restaurants, so any of those types of things like you did before. So, it's a little bit of a just, you know, every day is the same, including your weekends. So it is difficult, but I will say it's pretty amazing though, back in February we were chatting and we said, hey, pretty much the world's going to be working from home, you know, for the next six months. We would have thought it would've been chaos. And it's actually really proven just how resilient people are, and how adaptive organizations are, and of course, we're so fortunate 'cause we're in technology and technology is a huge part of the solution for this pandemic and how people can really effectively work virtually.
So, when you look at, you know, what we're seeing from a technology point of view, what are the big winners in this sort of pandemic sorta area from a technology point of view? So, you know, first off we're seeing huge adaptation of the cloud. The cloud continues to grow very fast, you know, 45% rates year over year substantial. And of course with Intel, we're seeing, you know, obviously continued, you know, migrations towards notebooks and higher powered notebooks that give them, like you said, all the capabilities they need to work virtually from home. So that's certainly been a big winner in the environment. Security of course is a big issue, you know, for clients. And then of course clients are looking at everything being digital going forward. And that sort of touches on the whole aspect of, you know, IoT and many other aspects of that. So, love to get your space perspective on technology and innovation, and how people are, you know, adapting through the innovation cycles here during the pandemic. So, what's your perspective, what's Intel's perspective there?
Yeah. It's, like you said Ken. The role that we have building and delivering technology to the U.S., to the world, is something the employees of Insight hold very dear, the employees at Intel definitely hold very, very dear. Our purpose as a company, and this was ran, well, a while before COVID, is to create world changing technologies that enrich in human lives. And as you said, it's really come alive tenfold in the last six months. And it spans everything from helping students learn from home, helping teachers teach remotely, as you mentioned, transitioning millions of Americans to working from home. It touches everything.
Now for us, what's been intriguing is, and I look at the projects in kind of three categories. One is companies that they had to adapt in order to stay in business because their business model had gotten so disrupted and they are driving a lot of innovative projects with us.
The second category is companies, like Insight, like Intel, revenue stream largely in tech, but they're preparing themselves for exiting COVID. And what does that look like? And there's quite a lot of digital transformation projects that are sustained and continue to, like, for instance, can I, in your earnings, you talked about the virtual chat feature on your website up 500% year over year, where you're delivering a better customer experience. So, we see a lot of projects like that, where they're just continuing, leaders, CEO's are making the decision that, post COVID business will largely be in tech. It'll look very, very different. So, what projects do you wanna put in place to deliver a world class customer experience? And so many of those, almost all of them involve technology. Technology that Insight sells, the technology that Intel builds, and that we go to market together.
And then the third piece I would say, is really, what does the new normal look like for the employee base? And what is the working experience that the employees will have, again, coming out COVID. We talked customers in previous example, the next is employees. And again, there's a lot of remote learning, there's a lot of software, you mentioned earlier security, and in maintaining security in a remote workforce environment. We're seeing that security appliances, security services continue to ramp.
So, three categories of projects that still are continuing very different than what we thought they would, but good momentum across all three. And the ability again, that Intel and Insight has to offer technology to help enrich those human lives, whether it's our customers or the employees.
Yeah. Certainly, a huge opportunity still there.
And, you know, one of the areas, of course, Greg, you and I are very bullish on and have been for quite some time is IoT and the intelligent edge. What's the latest in regard to, you know, investments that Intel's making in those areas?
For me, as a company we continue to invest, but for me, in 2020, it was one of the, it was spot single biggest increase in investment. And we're seeing it play out again, even with the pandemic our companies are continuing to move forward, automating their infrastructure, adding the capabilities of compute into their offices, their buildings, their factories, the streets of the cities that we live on. And so, we've been lucky. I know this is a public group, but we've been very fortunate and excited to see actually the number of end user opportunities, whether it's government opportunities or business opportunities, it's actually doubled in 2020 compared to 2019. And so, the momentum is real, the use cases are varied. And again, Ken, as you said, Insight, we're doing it together. So, thank you. Thank you for the partnership in this space, Ken.
Oh, great to see. And we're certainly glad to be part of it. We see a very bright future there at the edge, for sure. So, Greg, when we sort of wrap up here, you know, what sort of advice do you give to business leaders during this time? What's your sort of key sort of things that they should really be focused on?
Take care of our people. You gotta have a motivated workforce to do brilliant things as a company. So, to take care of the people.
Number two, I'd say, just recognize at least you're in the technology sector, you play a critical role of helping the world solve COVID, but also helping people retain some semblance of normal life. And Ken, that's what you mentioned earlier of just, as much as everything's changed, it's just incredible how there is still some semblance of normalcy. That's all about.
Then the third piece I'd say, is don't be afraid to make bold shifts. And we're seeing that in our own business. In aggregate, the revenue that we've now guided for 2020, it's pretty close to what we thought would be at the start of the year. But within that, there are certain businesses that are up two x, compared to what we expected. And there's other businesses that are down, noticeably. And what we've been doing at Intel is shifting the people, the resources, the innovation, to the markets where the demand remains strong. So, you gotta make those bold shifts and, again, it's not easy because a lot of times that's moving people from one organization to another and there's just built-in inertia, especially in big companies. But you gotta, you gotta be willing to do it. We all need to be willing to do it. So those are three things that I'd recommend.
Yeah. Very good perspective, and Greg, thanks so much for sharing all that with us. And more importantly, thanks for being such a great partner. We really value what Intel is helping drive us to really grow our businesses collectively. So, I really appreciate that. And again, thanks to the audience for watching and listening to some of the great perspectives you got from Greg. And, you know, if you wanna learn more about these types of things and what the future of tech really looks like, of course, feel free to subscribe to our digital magazine, called The Tech Journal. And you can find that at insight.com/techjournal. So, thanks for listening, thanks for watching, and we'll talk to you later.
Thank you, Ken.