The Future Looks Incredible, But Not If We Stay The Same

By Shannon Davis, Web Editor, Solid State Technology

Micron President Mark Adams’ keynote on Tuesday morning at SEMICON West 2014 was both optimistic and challenging, perhaps even unsettling for companies unused to evolving with the times.

“This is a great time for technology! And it’s just beginning…the pace of innovation is accelerating; we haven’t reached our peak,” said Mr. Adams. “The role of computing, automation, intelligence, storage is going to just grow and grow.”

But this boom in growth is not without its unique and significant challenges, and those not preparing for the change now may not be here to change later, he warned.

“For companies thinking everything’s going to stay the same, they’re not going to make it. You have to be able to adapt,” Mr. Adams challenged his audience. “We need to adapt to what’s in front of us. There are new markets and new applications. How we design our products and run our factories has to change, too.”

This call to evolve wasn’t reserved solely for the semiconductor makers, either. Mr. Adams pointed to the equipment suppliers as well, who he said would also need to work closer with their customers to learn how to meet their needs, relying less on the roadmap and more on real engagement with their partners.

“The key is the partnership aspect – running a semiconductor company is getting tougher,” said Mr. Adams. “We need partnerships. Semiconductor companies need equipment companies more than ever.”

But given the dynamics that are going on in the market currently, a successful partnership is different, he said. The partnerships of today, he explained, would need to be more solutions-oriented and less cost-focused.

Mr. Adams proposed engaging customers to understand market requirements and solve customer problems – a challenging proposal, given the now-diverse markets the semiconductor industry serves.

“For those companies who are structured, investing and partnering to understand how to best serve these markets, these are the winners,” said Mr. Adams. “We need to enable their solutions. We need to move up the value chain and add value to the products we’re selling.”

Mr. Adams concluded by outlining five factors that could make or break evolving semiconductor partnering companies: their ability to engage in safety analysis, their speed to market and cycle times, the quality of the products they deliver, their time to mature yield, and their ability to provide cost-effective options for their services.

“There is a huge opportunity in front of us,” he concluded. “We can only capitalize on it if we partner together more closely than we ever have before.”

Photo provided by SEMI