By Ram Velaga, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Core Switching Group
As Thomas Edison said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it,” and I very much believe that innovation without execution is just another idea.
As I recently discussed with Pat Moorhead and Dan Newman during a Six Five Insider Edition interview, I had been working at Broadcom for four years and wanted to work for a creative, technology-driven organization. Prior to the acquisition, Broadcom was viewed as a technology leader in networking, Wi-Fi and set top boxes. However, we were spending a lot of money without getting good returns for some of our newer investments in markets such as in mobile application processors or the 4G/ 5G modem space.
To be sure, that’s a reality faced by every company with an entrepreneurial focus; you place bets on new markets, not knowing for certain which ones will work out. The problem was that we were starving our core businesses while waiting for these other investments to bear fruit. Not a recipe for success.
Little did I know at the time but I ended up in the right place at the right time. Not only was the new executive team intent on maintaining Broadcom’s technical reputation, but they came in primed to invigorate Broadcom’s tradition of innovation. They kept the Broadcom corporate name to maintain continuity with that storied past as a global infrastructure technology leader built on 50 years of innovation, collaboration and engineering excellence. Now, seven years later, I’m still here and running the company’s switching and routing business.
While many companies reduce their R&D investments after an acquisition, Broadcom is just the opposite. Before the acquisition, about 1,300 people worked with me and we were investing a few hundred million dollars a year in R&D. Today, we have roughly the same number of employees but have doubled our R&D investment. The result is that the money Broadcom invested is going back into the organization to support the work of our team members to do what they do best: innovate.
Innovation has a shelf life
One of my managers always said that innovation “has a shelf life.” In other words, you can think all day long about innovation, but if you don’t execute, it’s worthless.
I see how the challenges to innovation are getting more daunting all the time. Consider what’s happening in the chip world where Moore’s Law is coming to an end and we’re no longer getting the same transistor performance improvements we once did. Meanwhile, the amount of data being created due to video or artificial intelligence continues to explode.
That sort of challenge drives my team to find new ways to think about how to democratize networking by increasing performance while driving down costs. Our goal at Broadcom is to keep doubling bandwidth every 18 to 24 months. In fact, we’ve successfully been able to double the bandwidth of our chips, going from 3 terabits to 6 terabits to 12 terabits to 25 terabits to 50 terabits. Quite a feat when you think about it, one that’s helped to drive down both energy consumption and price. Again, executing on the innovation gives it value.
The impact of Broadcom’s innovation is felt everywhere with our technology connecting so much of what goes into our digital lives.
Think about your mobile phone. There’s a Broadcom Wi-Fi chip that connects to an access point, which very likely also features a Broadcom chip. Then it connects to an Ethernet port that leaves your home through your CPE device that a service provider drops off – and there’s very likely a Broadcom device in there as well.
More broadly, as data centers have taken advantage of all this compute capability being spread out in a distributed computing approach with computers connected by the network, Broadcom is at the center, providing the plumbing that enables everything to work as it should.
Only an organization with innovation in its DNA could be successful with challenges of that magnitude. Broadcom is that organization and realizes that innovation requires execution to be successful.
Watch my full interview here: https://www.broadcom.com/support/video-webinar-library?channel=1df82613aab84e06b432a1aacc31bd95&video=26adfc59bfbb4e5c99899639bb9486ae
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