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Articles about DEC
Volume 7, #1 February, 1988
Future Challenges Of A Changing Work Force by John Murphy, consultant, Corporate Employee Relations, and Harris Sussman, Strategic Information Group, Corporate Personnel
Remember Digital’s Customer-Oriented Values by Jack Shields, senior vice president, Sales & Services, Industry/Channels Marketing, and International
Teamwork Needed To Meet Future Customer Satisfaction Goals
Digital Forms AI Technology Center
Patent Applications Triple In First Year Of New Program
Changes In U.S. Sales, Sales Operations And Government Marketing
AIDS Program Office Formed
Infinite Voyage Continues
Digital’s work force has been changing rapidly due to the company’s continuing growth and evolving business, and shifts in society as a whole. These changes call for increased emphasis on our traditional values, greater flexibility in the ways we attract and retain employees, and more management focus on international, cross-cultural and cross-organizational issues.
For the past two years Digital has been hiring an average of 100 people per day. Last year alone, 25,000 new people were hired - at all levels, including upper and middle management. This means there are increasing numbers of people who have been in the company for a very short time. We have a major task of making sure that these new people have a clear understanding of Digital’s values, as well as their individual responsibilities.
To acquire the people we need, Digital must be viewed as a company that values its people; a company that is flexible and tries to accommodate the changing needs of its employees. Just as we need the best possible product to compete in the world market, we need the best possible work environment to attract and retain the people we need to make the company successful.
Digital’s business is becoming more service-oriented. At one time a large segment of Digital’s employee population consisted of hourly employees in manufacturing. Now, the manufacturing business is much less labor-intensive, and the service business is expanding.
At the same time, the business is becoming more capital-intensive. So to maximize our asset utilization, we’re running equipment and processes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To keep the equipment running constantly, many facilities are adopting innovative work schedules, including compressed work weeks. For instance, some employees work four 10-hour days, or three 12-hour days a week, or varying work schedules each day. This represents an opportunity to meet the changing needs and expectations of employees, many of whom are asking for greater flexibility in their work schedules.
Flexibility in work schedules is also important because people with highly-specialized skills - such as software engineering - are becoming scarce. One way to deal with the scarcity of people is to recruit part-time professionals - people who prefer a reduced work week for family reasons or because of outside interests. There is a pool of exceptionally high-quality people that we can attract for individual part-time employment. In other words, variable schedules and other arrangements can and should be considered when they make good business sense.
Digital’s business is also becoming more international. Next year, revenues from outside the U.S. may exceed U.S. revenues for the first time in the company’s history. Within two or three years, it is expected that Digital will have as many people working in Europe as in Massachusetts. Already today, 37% of the company’s people live and work outside the U.S. Within five years, that may exceed 50%.
Increasingly, the success of one part of the business depends on other activities beyond organizational and national boundaries. International concerns will be important not just to senior managers, but to middle managers as well. They will have to learn other languages, to be sensitive to differences in culture and custom, and to manage people in dispersed work groups. More people are going to have to understand how the whole enterprise works.
Digital is largely a company of "baby boomers" — people born between 1946 and 1964. The median age of employees in the U.S. is now 36. Over the next 10 years there will be fewer and fewer young people coming into the company, because there will be fewer of them available for hire; so the median age should rise. We must keep in mind that the motivations, health concerns and benefit needs of people in their 40s and 50s are very different from those in their 20s and 30s.
At the same time, more employees are approaching retirement. In the company’s first 30 years, only 1000 people retired. It may take less than five years to reach 2000 retirees, even though many people are now remaining at work far beyond the previous age of retirement, or are returning to work after having once retired.
So we see an increasingly diverse work force — in terms of age, nationality, work schedules, etc. — and, at the same time, a greater need for all parts of the company to work together. To continue to be successful as a company, we need to adhere to our traditional people-oriented values, and to adapt our management styles to changing business and employee realities.
(The following article consists of excerpts from a speech Jack Shields delivered to DECathlon winners and sent to sales representatives worldwide.)
The dictionary defines "arrogance" as a feeling of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims. "Complacency" is defined as self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.
Some of our customers and consultants have been quoted in the press as perceiving us to be arrogant and complacent. We must change this perception quickly.
Before suggesting some ideas on how to change these perceptions, let me acknowledge some of the conditions that might lead customers to these conclusions. The world’s best authorities (our customers) give us extremely high marks for customer satisfaction, service quality, and the enthusiasm and knowledge of our support team. We have listened well to our customers over the years, which has resulted in an integrated product set that meets their needs. Marketing programs designed to leverage your sales activities have gained in stature and professionalism over the years, allowing consultants to compare us most favorably to IBM when they are with prospects.
But, let us also admit that it is exactly these strengths, resulting in the great number of enthusiastic new hires that we brought into our organization over the last several years, coupled with the great many new customers that we have been able to win over the past years, that increase the opportunity for arrogance and complacency to set in.
Let us talk about some of the factors that can lead customers to the perception that we are becoming complacent and arrogant and how to avoid them.
o During this period of industry-leading growth, it is clear that we have not spent as much time training our many new sales reps and managers on the "Digital Style" of dealing with customers as we should have. It is okay to say "I do not know the answer," as long as you get back to the customer in a prompt manner with the answer.
o It is not appropriate to disparage competition. Frequently overheard comments about the inadequacy or irrelevance of our larger competitors’ product set often offends many customers and users of those products. We should be careful to stress the advantages of our way of doing computing and never the negatives of our competitors.
o We should remember that one of the cardinal rules of a successful sales organization is to never argue with the customer. The customer is always right. That is one of the first rules for success. The second rule is: if you are in doubt about whether the customer is right, assume they are.
o Pay attention to the experience factor of the personnel you are calling on. For the first time ever, you are calling on some people who have made nothing but IBM decisions for decades. Be cautious that no matter how conservative and eloquent your presenta tion, you are indeed challenging the prior decisions of this management team. Acknowledge that they made the right decision at the time. Propose Digital solutions that complement their original decision. We are the only vendor that has consistently, for many years, offered solutions that do not require the obsoleting of existing investments either in our equipment or our competition’s.
o Understanding the roles and measurements of your teammates will allow you to become a much more effective account manager and team leader. This is the kind of leadership customers are looking for. They do not want to deal with eighteen different Digital people to get a problem solved. When they have to, it usually leaves them dissatisfied and feeling that we do not care about solving their problem as much as our competitors do.
o Each of us continually needs improving. Just because you are organized around an account within an industry does not mean you should not have a firm grasp on the Digital style of computing and what makes us unique. Lack of depth about our product strengths can be perceived as glibness or complacency. In addition to taking advantage of formal training programs, each of you should develop your own personal plan for understanding more about our products and services.
o Understand where your support resources are and brief them thoroughly about what is going on in your account. Remember that we are shifting the support resources from the Headquarters area out to the Field in order to improve the access to our customers. You will not find many more technical support people in Headquarters than you did five years ago, yet the Sales and Service organization has more than doubled over that time. It is important that you begin using and growing a competent support organization closer to your customers and exposing your customers to the breadth and depth of local support.
In conclusion, continue your winning effort, but be careful to steer clear of arrogance and complacency. These factors, rather than our competition, are all that stand between us and our goals. Each of you individually can make the difference by increasing your sensitivity to these factors and by letting our customers know through actions, not words, that they are the true force behind our success.
To meet the challenge of delivering the complex, tightly integrated, networked systems of the future, Digital must do more to value and reward inter-organizational collaboration. Product complexity demands more focus on the total process — on total systems rather than point products. And product success metrics must include all the costs of doing business - from Engineering, Manufacturing and Services, concluded the Corporate Process Task Force. These representatives from Engineering, Manufacturing and the Field recently met to discuss issues and strategies concerned with the process of moving from concepts to products to customers.
They noted that customer expectations must be clearly articulated in order to allow the Engineering/Manufacturing/Field Service product development teams to meet customer needs. Managers and integrators who deal with cross-functional issues and who help diverse organizations work together as a team must be developed and valued.
The task force proposed a number of technical programs including:
o development of a Digital Process Architecture, founded on a solidly formulated and maintained Corporate Process Strategy, which supports hierarchical design methodologies and technology independence;
o investment in an information management system enabling the smooth seamless access of information about our most complex products to Engineering, Manufacturing, and Customer Services over the entire life cycle of those products;
o development of a "design for" program which quantifies the tradeoffs on Digital’s total cost of doing business (including design for testability, manufacturability/assembly, quality, reliability, serviceability, cost competitiveness, customer satisfaction and time to market);
o improvement of the discovery and resolution of product problems with increased simulation, more effective product testing and qualification processes, and definition of a quick turnaround Engineering Change Order/Field Change Order (ECO/FCO1 nrocess
"Each of Digital’s organizational components has a different primary focus," the Task Force said in its report. "Engineering focuses on product; Manufacturing focuses on process; and Field Service focuses on problem solutions. We must all focus on satisfying customer expectations to converge into one company with one strategy.
"Digital must develop a measurement and reward system that causes convergence, not divergence among its many organizations. Bridges must be built across autonomous organizational components." The task force recommended that Engineering, Manufacturing and Service be involved in tradeoff decisions in the early stages of product development.
For further information on the work of the Corporate Process Task Force, contact Cathy Ward at DTN 223-9791 or (617) 493-9791.
An Artificial Intelligence (Al) Technology Center has been formed to bring together a variety of Al efforts from across the company. While working together and co-locating to a new facility in Marlboro, Mass., these groups will continue to be the Al focus for Manufacturing, Customer Service, Engineering and Software Consulting, as well as Application and Industry Marketing groups. Over 400 people are now relocating to the new facility.
Scott Flaig, the manager of the new technology center, reports to Bill (BJ) Johnson, vice president, Distributed Systems. He was most recently Group Manufacturing manager for Distributed Systems.
The center includes five main groups. The Intelligent Systems Technologies Group, managed by Dennis O’Connor, develops Al applications primarily for Digital’s internal use in Manufacturing. They are responsible for such applications as XCON and XSEL. The Artificial Intelligence Applications Group, managed by Neil Pundit, develops tools and applications for Field Service. The Artificial Intelligence Technology Group, managed by Norma Abel, develops products for sale to customers. Her group includes AI professionals located in Valbonne, France, as well as in Massachusetts. Al Software Consulting, managed by Jim Fong, provides Al support directly to customers and links up with AI specialists in the Sales organization. In addition to those moving to the new facility, the AI Software Consulting group includes software engineers located in Palo Alto, California. The AI Marketing group, managed by Jack Rahaim, has the worldwide responsibility for marketing strategy and related programs, third-party relationships and serving as a shared resource for the various product and industry marketing groups.
A small Al research group that is part of Corporate Research also will be moving to the new facility. That group maintains close ties with university-based research projects throughout the world.
In addition, the new technology center will stay in close touch with related Al activities elsewhere in Digital, including Europe and Japan.
"Digital is a leader in Al — with good products, relationships with the major universities involved in research in Al, and relationships with key third parties involved in Al software development," explains Scott. "We’ve made good use of internal Al applications to keep our competitive edge in Manufacturing and Service, and elsewhere across the company.
"At Digital, Al is not just a simple product or set of products. Rather, our strategy has been to integrate Al efforts with the company’s overall VAX-based networking strategy. This optimizes the impact of Al on the company’s overall business, but it also makes it difficult to measure that impact. The new Al Technology Center should give Digital’s Al efforts greater visibility, both inside and outside the company.
"We will continue to provide the services that each of the individual groups were set up for, serving the needs for Al applications in Manufacturing, Engineering and Services. We’ll also work together as a single business and develop product strategies to improve Digital’s position in the marketplace, and we’ll influence the use of Al by Digital’s various design groups so that we can optimize Digital’s business advantage in this technology.
"In terms of products, we want to sell tools that third-party vendors can use to create turnkey applications. These are tools that have been developed from our experience in building and using internal applications. We will also provide services and develop customized solutions for individual customers."
A dramatic increase in the number of Digital’s patent applications has resulted from a program initiated a year ago to ensure that inventions and innovative ideas are recognized and adequately protected.
In the past, a single committee reviewed all technical innovations to determine patent priorities for the entire company. As Digital grew and the competitive environment changed, it became clear that more attention must be focused on building and strengthening the company’s total portfolio of patents. As a result, the Patent Program was decentralized, each of the engineering groups established its own review committee, and some groups have hired "patent engineers," who, among other duties, serve as liaisons to the Law Department.
The new Patent Program provides support to design engineers to assist them in identifying the inventions and in drafting disclosures. The Program also provides incentives.
The patent disclosure is presented to the respective organization’s review committee for approval to file for a patent. Once approved, the information is forwarded to the Law Department for submission to the U.S. Patent Office and other patent offices, as appropriate. Typically, it takes two to three years for a patent to be issued, but the act of application provides protection for the innovation in the interim. In addition, the application is held in secrecy by the Patent Office until it issues as a patent.
The Patent Program also includes an incentive program as part of the effort to give high recognition to individuals who create patentable innovations, and to encourage them to go through the effort involved in the application process. The engineers responsible for an innovation receive cash awards when Digital applies for a patent and also when the patent is actually awarded. Engineers with 10 and 20 applications and 5, 10, 15 and 20 issued patents receive additional awards.
In the first year of the program, Digital filed more than three times as many patents in the U.S. as the year before. And plans call for filing twice as many as that this year. In just two years, the company will have filed for more patents than it did in its first 30 years of existence. The result will be a powerful portfolio of patents that protects Digital’s investments in technical development and discourages infringement from competitors.
This patent program is now in effect in the U.S., and the company is studying how to implement it elsewhere in the world.
The U.S. Federal Government market has been growing rapidly in both dollar volume and complexity. To ensure Digital’s continued success in this area, Harvey Weiss, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations and Government Systems Group, will place increased focus on the special requirements and needs of this market. At the same time, the U.S. Sales organization is realigning to take on expanded responsibilities.
In the past, Sales was responsible for "certs" (approved or certified orders) and Sales Operations was responsible for "revenue" (the money actually received from customers, which reflects discounts, allowances and contracts) and "margin" (the revenue minus the costs). Over the next six months, Sales will take on responsibility for both revenue and margin. In the interim, Harvey will continue to have these responsibilities and will work closely with Chick Shue, vice president, U.S. Sales, to assure a smooth transition.
Harvey continues to manage the Peripherals and Supplies Group, under John Alexanderson, and the worldwide Product Operations Group under Mark Roberts. He will also chair the Worldwide Field Manufacturing Management Committee (WWFMMC), as the worldwide linkage to Manufacturing Operations.
Bob Nealon, manager, Geographic Sales Operations, who had reported to Harvey, now reports to Chick. In this role, he will continue to provide direct support to the Sales organization regarding discounts, allowances and contracts. Bob will also chair the U.S. Field Manufacturing Management Committee (USFMMC) as the U.S. link into Manufacturing Operations.
In addition, Ray Wood, formerly vice president, Mid-Atlantic Area, has been named vice president, U.S. Sales Areas, reporting to Chick. In this position, he will manage the nine U.S. Area Sales vice presidents and co-manage (with Bill Ferry) the U.S. Sales Support Manager, Dave Salmi.
Business Operations, managed by John Buckley, now reports to Mike Kalagher, manager, U.S. Administration.
An AIDS Program Office has been formed in Corporate Employee Relations to coordinate Digital’s multi-faceted responses to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), including an extensive education effort. Over time, this office will serve as a model for approaches to other important Employee Relations issues.
Paul Ross, the new manager of the AIDS Program Office, was formerly Personnel Service Delivery manager for the Northeast Area in the U.S. He has been with Digital for nine years, serving in a variety of roles, including line management, training and development, and project management. He is located in West Concord (CFO2), and can be reached at DTN 251-1418 or (617) 264-1418.
The second episode of Digital’s Infinite Voyage series aired January 6 and 11 on public and commercial television stations in the U.S. Entitled "To the Edge of the Earth", it takes viewers to volcanoes erupting on the ocean floor, jungles where exotic life forms thrive, and oases in the cold arctic desert where animals seek refuge. The three-year, 12-episode series looks at how today’s science is leading to new areas of knowledge. The third episode will air April 6 and 11. (Consult local television listings for channel and time).
Response to the series has been very positive. The National Education Association recommends it to all member teachers, and related lectures are scheduled for major U.S. universities in the coming months.
Dallas Kirk has been named manager of the Public Relations function, reporting to Win Hindle, senior vice president. Dallas began his career with Digital in 1970 as a Sales representative in Pittsburgh. From 1972 to 1976, he was employed in Sales management in Indianapolis and in Dayton. From 1976 through 1987, he worked in various Marketing groups, including Industrial Products, the Telecommunications Industry Group and Electronics Industry Marketing. In his latest assignment, Dallas managed the most successful public relations event in Digital’s history - DECWORLD ’87.
Jim Myers has been appointed Southern Area Administration manager, reporting to Mike Kalagher, U.S. Administration manager. His responsibilities will include information systems, mail/voice communication, purchasing, security, facilities planning, and acquisition and management of cross-functional customer and internal administrative services. Jim will be a member of the U.S. Administration and Southern Area Teams. Jim joined Digital in 1979 as the Operations manager in the Boston Plant. He progressed through various management positions in Manufacturing, CSSE (Customer Service Systems Engineering), and Field Service Logistics. His last two assignments were as Plant manager for the Wilmington Plant and as Operations manager for Customer Administrative Services Headquarters.
Tony Picardi has accepted the position of Human Resources Planning (HRP) manager for MEM, reporting to Dick Farrahar, manager, MEM Personnel. Tony will also be the Personnel manager for members of the Product Central Staff, specifically, Henry Crouse, Jim Cudmore and Bill Strecker. As HRP Manager, he will also be responsible for the Strategic Employment Group under Russ Johnson and the Executive Recruiting and College Relations staffs. Most recently he was group Personnel manager, Mid-Range Systems Engineering, and until there is a replacement for him there, he will continue those responsibilities as well as begin work in his new assignment.
Art Williams has accepted the position of group manager for VAX Workstations, reporting to Dom LaCava, group manager, Low End Systems. Art has been the group’s acting manager. He has been with Digital for over 15 years. During this time, he managed the Hardcopy Group; was the Hardware Development manager for the PC350 and PC380 Professional Personal Computers; and most recently managed the Product Management, Continuation Engineering and Systems Evaluation for the Workstations Group. Prior to joining Digital, he was the director of Engineering for the Printer Division of Mohawk Data Sciences.