So, this is not my first rodeo (as the saying goes) - in fact, I've been going to IDF, on and off, for over 10 years, starting with my time when I was a semiconductor analyst. And, yes, I now work for Intel, so some may feel my opinion is biased, but, regardless, here it is anyway:
This morning was the best IDF Keynote I've ever seen
What made this morning better? If I had to summarize it, I'd say it breaks down into 3 things: Intimacy, Lifestyle, and Leadership. Let me explain...
The very first thing I noticed this morning was, before Brian Krzanich said his first word was how he was dressed. Not only did he not wear a tie, but he didn't even wear a jacket. The tone was very casual, but not in a lazy way. When he spoke, on stage, he went right out to he front of it, basically as far out to the audience as he could, as if he wanted to say "I am one of you - I'm a Geek & I'm proud of it." Now, someone will say that a slight shift to a dress code & positioning on stage doesn't much matter, but I would completely disagree because, before joining Intel in 2005, I knew well the biggest criticisms of Intel. In one word, it would have been Arrogance. In three words, it would have been "Intel Doesn't Listen." Now, I think that is changing, which I think is a great thing. But it wasn't just the lack of a jacking and where he stood - the subtleties continued when our new President, Renée James did her keynote. Not once did she hold up a wafer. Not once did she say the word Gigahertz. But, what she did talk about was how Intel was making life better. During Brian's portion, he talked about the Intel Quark SoC, which is planned to be 1/5th the size of Intel Atom processors and 1/10th the power consumption. But when Renée spoke, she addressed the why wearables mattered. A great example was what I called a "Hospital-in-a-Patch" that didn't look much different thank an anti-smoking patch, but would be able to monitor several of your medical vitals no matter where you were. While still in development, it shows the amazing promise of the not-too-distant-future. But she didn't just pontificate, she brought out an Intel Fellow, Eric Dishman who told a very personal story. Arguably, it was the most personal story a person could tell because it was not only about his own 24-year battle with Cancer, but also how mapping his genome has led his doctors to a path that, thankfully, gave them the opportunity to tell him the magical words: "Eric, you're cancer free." I don't know how you can get more personal, more intimate that that in a story. But it didn't stop there. Then Renée was finished, Brian re-joined her on stage for the first-ever, "open Q&A with the CEO and the President of Intel." This has never been done in the history of IDF, but I loved that it did. To me, it signaled change. To me, it was a message: "Yes, we know we make amazing silicon, but none of it means anything if we don't have get hardware partners to put them into products and great software partners that make the magic happen. In short, Intel is nothing without our partners, so we want you to know that we care, deeply, about you. We want to have a closer, more intimate relationship with you and do amazing, wonderful things together...
What is the difference between Ordinary and Extraordinary. Renée said it best: Intelligence. What happens when everything gets smarter? The simple answer is life gets better. Whether it is critical technology like the Hospital-in-a-Patch mentioned above or just convenient technology, as things get smarter, life gets better. For example, what if every parking meter was smarter? What if, before you leave your car, you put your smart phone next to the NFC sensor on the parking meter to register your phone. Then, if your meal is running long, it sends you a quick message of "your meter is running low, would you like to refill it?" and, with a simple press of the button, you can. How great would that be? When I was trying to explain the implications today at lunch, I used the table we were eating at as an example. What if, when you sat down, your table was your menu? Instead of the wait staff having to go back and forth, asking if you were ready to order, as soon as you were, you ordered. Also, the moment the kitchen runs out of "Catfish" then all the menus are automatically updated so that option would be grayed out. Also, as soon as you were ready to pay your bill, you could, right on the table, with the NFC on your phone. Or, if you wanted some help, you could just push a button like you do on an airplane & your server could come right out. But this doesn't just help customers, it would help the restaurateurs as well. If you could save 10 minutes for every customer, a eating establish might be able to fit an entirely extra sitting in the course of a dining cycle. For the fixed costs of the chief & kitchen staff, that could be the difference between being profitable and closing your doors. But these types of "Lifestyle Computing" - or integrated computing, depending on how you looked at it - wasn't just about tiny, minuscule computers, but also on the other end, the Big Data server rooms. For example, you want better healthcare, then your doctors need to get to know you better, and far better than you can do from just a form. They need to map your Genome, which, if your curious, is about a Petabyte of Data. For those not so familiar with these prefixes, that is around a thousand Terabytes or around a million Gigabytes. So, take that smart phone with 1GB of memory & put it in a pile with a million other phones - that's the data required to map EVERY person's genome. Multiple that by the 1/3 of all women and 1/2 of all men that will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and you get to the legal definition of a "butt-load of data." But, never fear, the new i5 Xeon processors being launched this week are up to that task. So, your lifestyle computing - whether it is wearables devices or warehouse of servers, Intel has got you covered. And that brings us to our last category...
It was subtle, but our new CEO - affectionately called "BK" in the halls of Intel - put all Intel employees on notice:
If it computers, we will lead
To me, that is vision. That is leadership. There was no squishy areas there, no caveats, no outs. It was simple, straight-forward, and to the point. If it computes, than Intel will do its best so serve that market segment as well as we can. Oh, and, if you missed it, in the future, everything will compute. Your grandpa's favorite recliner won't just recline, but rather it will watch him. It will monitor his vitals it will check to see if he's been siting there past when he was supposed to take his medication and alert him if it needs to. And, heaven forbid, he should have a heart attack while sitting there in an empty house, he will be helped, immediately, even faster than if you were in the next room. In essence, in the future, no seasoned citizen will ever be sitting in an empty house again, but houses, furniture, kitchens, everything will be smarter and connected. Making your life, my life, and most importantly, the lives of the people we love, not only better, but, ideally, longer - as long as possible. Roughly a century ago, we were went through an important transformation - an electrical one. Instead of candles, we gained electric lights. Instead of washboards, we gained washing machines. Instead of a hand pump in your kitchen, we gained running water. Now we are on the cusp of the next transformation: Intelligence. Instead of an electric light, we'll get a smart one - that turns itself off when not needed (like when no one is in the room) and turns itself on when needed. Instead of washing machines, we'll get smart ones that analyses the soiling of your clothes and put in the right combination of detergent chemicals to optimize the cleaning. Instead of running water, we'll gain smart faucets that automatically detects if the water coming out has a higher than allowable amount of harmful chemicals. It doesn't matter what you pick - a bed, a pool, and gym, with greater intelligence comes a better life, just as electricity has been improving life for the last century or more. General Electrics' age old tag line has been "We bring good things to life." Perhaps Intel should adopt: "We bring better things to life," because, as we lead in everything that computes, from wearables to phones to tablets to 2in1s and Ultrabooks to desktop PCs, and, of course, servers, life will get better, for everyone. And I, as one particularly proud Intel employee, doesn't mind saying, that is a future that feels wonderful. Which, as it happens, was one of the pieces of closing advice from this morning's keynote - a quote from one of our founders, Robert Noyce: