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Will AMD’s missing vital ingredient prevent cooking on gas?

Success in any market needs the right combination of products, pricing, players and placement. In simple terms, correctly marketing the right products into the right markets with the right team of people around you – and your success is pretty much guaranteed. But what happens when you have gaps in any of these areas?  Having one issue can significantly impact your ability to perform, but if you're suddenly missing several vital ingredients – then everything becomes 10x harder. KitGuru scans the archives and comes to a realisation.

Following our recent interview with Dr Lisa Su, we've had one eye on the calendar – wondering what will happen when the industry (as a whole) and AMD (specifically) posts its Q2 sales data. While Lisa is in charge of the various business units at AMD, her role is not a specific sales management role. That got us thinking.

After Computex 2008, Emilio Ghilardi was brought in to drive the AMD sales effort (including heavy influence on the marketing teams) for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. At the time he arrived, Gustavo Arenas was Chief Sales Officer, but Gustavo was to leave and Emilio took over the Chief Sales Office role himself.

Prior to Gustavo, Henri Richard (now leader of the Freescale world), was Chief Sales Officer.

Emilio himself handed in his resignation at the beginning of January 2012.

Before we sit back and look for a pattern, it's worth noting that in the serious world of multi-billion dollar organisations, strategy is everything. Product launches comes and go, but a company's overall direction gets set in big/positive turns of the wheel – and then the company chugs in that direction for 5 years of more, before deciding that it needs to reinvent itself.

Take the example of Apple. It had a strong direction from Steve Jobs in its first incarnation. He left and, after a while, the wheels started to come off. He returned and, hey presto, world domination. When you consider the iPad – also remember the Apple Newton.

It was the vision of Steve Jobs that kicked off the idea of a hand-held, touch-screen, personal computing device in 1987. A mere 23 years later and the concept began to rule the world as the iPad.

That's strategy.

In business, people often talk about a ‘five year plan'. So here's a question: How is it possible for AMD to have the right sales strategy in place, when it has had 5 different people taking on the mantle of Chief Sales Officer over the past 5 years?

Not only that, but since Emilio left on 7th February, the role has remained vacant. How does that work?

This is much easier to see with a simple analogy that is close to AMD's heart – given it's on going sponsorship of Ferrari. While Rory Reid is running the team overall and there are groups dedicated to the engine, control systems and aerodynamics (CPU, mainboard, APU and graphics) – someone actually needs to sit in the hot seat and deliver measurable results. The driver.

Running a Formula 1 team for six months, without knowing who the driver will be for next season, would seem a little nuts. The same can be said for a team that changes driver 5 times in 5 years. Ferrari went into the current season with a questionable product. However, in the hands of a world champion – and with a load of work by engineering behind the scenes – Ferrari is winning races.

No matter how hard those engineers worked, without the skilled pilot, results would be hard to come by.

While technically posting a $92m profit for Q1 2012, the actual numbers before adjustment showed a loss of almost $600 million. On that basis, Thursday 19th July 2012 will be a crunch day for AMD as the investing world plus dog looks to see what the chip giant posts when there are no ‘unusual set of one off charges, costs and write offs'. Click here for calendar details.

We had plenty of room to put the AMD logo in, because this snapshot of the board of executives is missing a Chief Sales Officer. Someone needs to be in charge of delivering the Benjamin Franklins

KitGuru says: With the dawn of Windows 8, more pressure from ARM/Intel/nVidia and a continuously shifting background in world economics/politics – we firmly believe that AMD needs to nail every CxO position if it is to deliver results. Looking at the executive biographies page of the AMD web site, the Chief Sales Officer's role is conspicuous by its absence – and this is something that needs to be addresses today rather than tomorrow.

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