Several years ago Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer published a paper in the Harvard Business Review called “Creating Shared Value.” [i] They challenged business leaders to rethink corporate social responsibility (CSR) using the concept of “shared value.” Stated simply, consider “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.” Think more broadly than only philanthropy, social responsibility or even, sustainability, they urged.
It’s inspiring to think that business objectives and community success can be mutually supportive. In a large company we’re often moving within organizational charts, business reviews, cost centers and more. And in many days, decisions are made under time and resource pressure, leaving less time to reflect on the world around us. So, it’s fair to ask, “How can I contribute to my company while contributing to society?” This is the essence of the shared value approach.
One example of where AMD may have aligned success with the needs of society is the company’s “25 by 20 initiative”, or “25x20.” AMD’s 25x20 goal aims to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of its mobile microprocessors 25 times by year 2020, from a 2014 baseline.[ii] While energy efficiency had been an integral part of AMD’s design process for some time, the 25x20 goal signaled a new and ambitious target to both improve our products and, through reducing electricity use, improve the environment. Achieving the goal means that in 2020, an AMD-powered laptop computer could accomplish a task in one-fifth the time as one produced in 2014, while on average consuming less than one-fifth the power.
In arriving at the goal, an internal team spent many hours assessing market demands, testing methodology with Stanford University Professor Dr. Jonathan Koomey, and frankly, debating the risk of embracing such a bold, public goal when we did not have all the information for assured success.
Now, more than two years into the initiative, AMD is pleased to be ahead of pace to achieve its 25x20 goal. While there’s more progress to achieve, the trajectory appears good and the goal seems to be a motivating force for AMD teams developing new processor architectures, power efficient technologies and power management techniques.
After early successes, others are beginning to notice our progress and recognize the vision and achievements. AMD recently received Environmental Leader’s 2016 Top Project Award, and the Green Electronics Council’s 2016 Catalyst Award in Berlin, Germany for transformative yet scalable advances in sustainable design, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Award for Innovative Practices/Technology. And, as of this writing, AMD is one of only 19 companies – and the first semiconductor company – to have its climate protection targets covering products, operations and supply chain verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative as aligned with climate science.
While the external recognition is gratifying and motivating, the success for the initiative ultimately will be viewed within the shared value paradigm. In other words, will AMD’s energy efficient processors win in the market while delivering meaningful cost and environmental benefits to society? Time will tell, but if the early designs and public recognitions are any indication, we are on the right track.
Susan Moore is AMD’s Corporate Vice President of Public Affairs, and is the immediate past Chair of Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.