Intel Unambiguous: U.S. IT Leadership Matters

What's notable about Intel CEO Paul Otellini's speech Tuesday is how he treats the U.S.'s overall competitiveness as vital to the company's future.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

February 23, 2010

3 Min Read

What's notable about Intel CEO Paul Otellini's speech Tuesday is how he treats the U.S.'s overall competitiveness as vital to the company's future.Here's a PDF of Otellini's speech Tuesday at the Brookings Institute.

The programs Otellini outlines are impressive (a commitment, with others, to hire more college grads and back U.S. startups.) But just as important is that Otellini makes a clear, fact-driven, and passionate appeal for U.S. companies and the government to do much more to improve U.S. competitiveness. The fact that Otellini considers this a top strategic priority for Intel is critical in itself.

Here are some excerpts from Otellini's remarks:

As I travel around the world, what I hear and see from business and government leaders, students and employees is very instructive. Other countries have focused on investing in innovation, creating national policies to build digital infrastructure, and have moved quickly to embrace sustainable energy. We are seeing this not just in India and China, but in Finland, Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, and many other places. All this activity on their part is making them far more potent competitors in the next phase of the global economy.

On national policies, he argues for more generous R&D tax credits, easier visas for well-educated immigration, lower taxes, and more certainty around healthcare and energy costs. Then he adds:

On all these issues there may be legitimate policy differences. But as a nation we must have a clear, enduring strategy to promote innovation, investment, and startup companies … a set of policies that let American business confidently invest in the future, raise capital, take risks, and feel assured that we are training the talent to lead the next generation of industries. That, after all, is what the rest of the world is doing.

On education, Otellini says:

This is an area the U.S. must succeed. Growth in math-intensive science and engineering jobs outpace overall job growth by three to one. Think about this: according to one source, America's GDP would grow by more than a third if U.S. students became globally competitive in math and science. Any real strategy for future competitiveness has to address this issue. President Obama has made this issue a top focus of his administration. We see it as the responsibility of not just government, but of every business that depends on highly skilled employees.

In a global market, where the biggest boom markets lie abroad, where Intel gets 75% of its revenue from outside the U.S., it's easy for executives to be wishy-wash on the importance of this issue: You know, "On the one hand U.S. competitiveness is certainly important, but we take a global view … " What the U.S. needs is more business leaders who look at the issue the way Otellini is--to candidly size up the competition the U.S. faces, and make it a business priority to help the U.S. do what it takes to stay ahead.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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