K.C. Liu, chief executive officer at Taiwan-based electronics and industrial supplier Advantech, has announced plans to reorganize the Industrial Automation Group (also known as the eAutomation Group). Final details for the reorganization of the Cincinnati-based group are to be released in the last quarter of 2007. Liu says that two trends precipitated the reorganization—Web 2.0—a reference to second-generation Web services and communities—and globalization. The Web 2.0 part of the equation consists of an internal “Wiki,” or collaborative Web site, for collaboration. The globalization part entails company reorganization along regional, rather than departmental, lines.
Says Liu in the announcement, “It is necessary for entrepreneurs to think hard about redistributing and recombining all their resources in order to restructure and reorganize successfully; and to re-think technological development strategies. Furthermore, enterprises must wisely deploy their manpower by devoting enterprise resources in the most strategically competitive places.”
Spider to starfish
The release quotes the book “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” by Ori Brafman, that uses the spider and starfish analogy to refer to having a decentralized structure that permits regeneration. “Using this analogy, Advantech presently adopts a multilayered structural organization known as a ‘Spider’—this allows every department to focus exclusively on its own tasks with operations and decision-making centered on headquarters. The disadvantage of this arrangement is that the company cannot command and respond to regional market demands as readily as it wishes. So, Advantech plans to adopt a ‘Starfish’ structure that fully integrates all department functions from the headquarters with regional business units based on decentralization and open communication. Regional market-oriented sales teams will focus on their own specific vertical market; Design-To-Order-Services (DTOS) can supply customers with tailored products and services using the same back-office infrastructure and all divisions will economize on resources and improve efficiency.”
Advantech has established a Customer Fulfillment Center to effectively allocate resources, systemize departmental tasks and coordinate assignment workflows for each division. The goal, according to the company, is to preempt the competition by shortening product and service delivery time and improve overall customer service efficiency. Coupled with product integration, this new arrangement has helped Advantech to better define its product development direction, access new markets more quickly, and improve its product design quality. Through close collaboration with vertical application solution partners, Advantech can advance product competitiveness and meet customers’ expectations.
Advantech has set up a “Wiki” Web site called AdvantechWiki as a collaborative tool to promote inter-departmental innovation and knowledge-sharing and to amass creativity, technological research and development experience. According to the online collaborative Web-based encyclopedia Wikipedia, a wiki is a collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone with access to it. AdvantechWiki encourages data collection, knowledge sharing and intelligent communication among cross-regional and inter-departmental personnel. The company wishes to accelerate organizational reformation and research and development (R&D) efficiency by promoting knowledge sharing forums through AdvantechWiki.
An structural reorganization of the Industrial Automation Group will be launched in second half of 2007 to stimulate direct marketing deployment and strategic development, the company said; the goal is to create a more globalized and integrated organization. Advantech will continue its strong commitment to invest in R&D and further develop branding strategies that exploit fresh market opportunities. Through strengthened, wide-ranging customer services, Advantech anticipates continued growth and expansion by facing the challenges of global competition.
Advantech Industrial Automation Group