Intel's executive leadership has stepped it up at this week's Intel Developer Forum. I used to do speaker reviews for Intel. After Andrew Grove left, though, poorly prepped speakers, sloppy presentations and missed opportunities defined IDF, with folks changing their presentations right up until they went on stage. Intel found my speaker reviews too critical, so I wasn't asked to continue.
This year, Intel executives were prepared and well-rehearsed. Even CEO Brian Krzanich brought the magic. This should help Intel once again take leadership in markets ranging from wearable devices and sensors to large-scale data centers. Intel may have actually outperformed Apple — partly because Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, partly because of a level of execution I haven't seen from Intel in over a decade.
Why Executive Excellence Matters
Jobs set the bar; his execution was legendary, personally assuring that everything was "just right." This helped Apple, as it got people to see Apple products as more than the sum of their parts, to see the potential. The products were good, sure, but Jobs got us to see them as magical.
Executives who puts a lot of effort into stage presence honor their staff and company. They show that what everyone did to create the technology, the product and even the event is as important to them, personally, as it should be to their staff. When they don't step up, it embarrasses everyone and makes it seem OK to perform poorly. This creates an environment where the company can't execute at a high level.
Krzanich took the lead this year with what had to be the best keynote talk I've seen since Grove left. What's more, he was followed by executive after executive who performed at a similar level. Krzanich set the bar high, and his people stepped up to meet it throughout the event.
I'm hard to impress; I was once ranked third nationally in competitive speaking and, years ago, medaled in four speaking events. Doing this right is about timing, writing, staging and writing. Intel hit on each and every point (with few exceptions) throughout the event. There were even signs of magic.
Intel Brings the Magic, Redefines What's Next
Early on, three things stood out at IDF: Tablets, wireless connectivity and wireless charging. These ideas will resonate and redefine what's coming.
For the tablet presentation, Krzanich brought out what was probably the ugliest tablet I've seen since Microsoft launched its tablets nearly a decade and a half ago — big, heavy and thick, with a small screen to boot, the design epitomized "ugly." Sure, it had a cool camera with three optical sensors, but a great camera isn't a good tradeoff for an ugly tablet. Krzanich then broke the tablet open, extracting a new 6mm thin, 8-inch Dell tablet that made the iPad look obsolete. It was the kind of thing a magician might perform on stage.
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