CIO Changes IT Into Driver of Innovation, by Peter High in CIO Insight Article

June 17, 2015
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Peter High


Excerpt from the Article:
Mentor Graphics is a $1.2 billion multinational company, based in Wilsonville, Ore. It is a leader in supporting electronic design automation, which enables companies to develop better electronic products faster and more cost-effectively. The company’s engineers conquer design challenges in the increasingly complex worlds of board and chip design.

When Ananthan Thandri joined the company eight years ago, IT was a regional player in the company, and it largely had an order-taking role. In this interview by CIO Insight contributor Peter High, Thandri discusses the cultural and technical changes that he has made to change IT’s culture, improving user satisfaction and aggrandizing his own portfolio of responsibilities in the process.

CIO Insight: When you joined Mentor Graphics eight and a half years ago, the department was a classic “order-taking” function. What steps did you undertake to change the culture of IT to be proactive and involved in innovation?

Ananthan Thandri: First and foremost, we focused on bringing the IT talent to the forefront. We had abundant IT talent when I started at Mentor and with some changes in middle management that brought talent from the outside, we have encouraged the culture to become more innovative. For example, we changed the organization to be a global function rather than regional, which helped create a global perspective in IT solutions. We also made IT an objective-driven organization, with every IT employee’s objective directly connected to the overall organization’s objective. We increased communication within IT and between IT and the rest of the business and invested in new technologies to help increase productivity, while bringing quantitative (metrics-driven) data into decision making. By empowering our IT leaders and employees, we gave them opportunities to come up with innovative ideas to solve business problems. The overall result has been to transform IT into a partner, not just a naysayer, making customer satisfaction the responsibility of everyone, not just the CIO.

CIO Insight: You are a customer-facing CIO, can you speak about the ways in which you and your team engage external customers?

Thandri: Mentor IT has been involved with external customers for quite some time with Emulation Hardware Field Support and providing a secured collaborative environment between Mentor and its customers.

Emulation Hardware support involves Mentor IT system administrators located around the world who provide first-level support (diagnosis of problem, replacement hardware) at customer locations. As our emulation business grew significantly over the last several years, the need arose for more manpower and expertise around the globe to support our external customers. IT stepped in with the full support and confidence of the president of the company and designed and built a scalable support organization and practice. This model is instrumental in providing support turnaround times quickly for our customers. Mentor IT also helps with emulation benchmark activity with customers and helps qualify new emulation servers and systems.

Customer Collaborative Environment (CCE) is a secure workspace that provides remote access technologies for secure collaboration between Mentor and its customers. Today’s complex designs require the ability for designers to collaborate in secure and easily accessible development environments. Mentor’s secure collaborative workspace allows real-time interaction between Mentor and its customers. This significantly reduces the time for test case development as well as provisioning of same design data while protecting both Mentor and customers’ IP. This also helps Mentor better leverage our key talent around the world to help customers be successful. There are several engagements happening at any given time.

To read the remainder of the article, please visit CIO Insight

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