the ideas lab
ARM’s ability to create value comes from its employees developing and delivering IP that is useful to its customers. Tudor Brown, founder and President, explains how a shared vision and mission helped ARM to become the world leader in semiconductor IP and are still at the heart of the company today.
ARM has become the world leader in semiconductor IP because we have some of the most creative and innovative people, who also have the vision and drive to develop and deploy the best technology. The ARM team is bound together by a set of principles and behaviours by which we operate. These principles and behaviours evolved as the company was formed, and still hold true today.
We consider the following as essential elements of the behaviour of an ARM employee in whatever discipline they work: teamwork and selflessness; constructive proactivity; partner and customer focus and responsiveness. In addition we encourage all employees to take pride in innovation and in their own self-development.
R&D and partnership focus
The focus of our business model is to create products that are well suited for many Partners to use in a diverse range of markets. The innovation of our employees therefore rests in the ability to understand and optimise the common essential requirements from a range of inputs. In this way ARM achieves a high “hit rate” of successful products. By listening to many parts of the ARM network such as our semiconductor partners, OEMs, our own research and University research we are able to create a pipeline of truly innovative and leading products.
Nearly two-thirds of ARM’s employees are engineers, specifying and inventing new technology to be licensed. ARM’s non-engineering employees focus on the deployment of this technology; marketing and sales maintain the essential relationships with our Partners, legal and licensing teams support negotiations, infrastructure teams provide the delivery mechanisms, finance teams manage the money and HR teams support the development of the whole team.
The initial vision to make ARM a Global Standard clearly required an international focus, and so from the early days we set about marketing and selling ARM technology in countries outside the UK. Today that global focus remains and we now have 30 offices in 14 countries with less than 50% of the workforce being located in the UK. These offices range from simple sales representations to support and marketing organisations through to R&D development sites. We have a strong culture of encouraging internal communication and interworking between sites. From the beginning we believed strongly in spending time with customers at their locations, so many ARM employees, at all levels, are frequent international travellers.
Careful ongoing investment
We have always run the business to be “lean and mean”, believing that keeping resources tight maintains a focus on the most critical tasks, and balances investment with generating profits and cash. Most of ARM’s costs are people related; from engineers sitting at their work-stations designing next generation technology to sales and marketing teams closing the next licence. Investing in more people can only be justified by the opportunity for more sales.
We have retained this approach, even as the company has grown, through careful recruitment, induction of new employees and in-house training. We generally try to promote and rotate people internally to develop and extend their skill-base. In addition to this we regularly appraise all employees to review our adherence to the principles and behaviours above and to assess training needs.
These shared principles and behaviours have evolved over the last 20 years as the ARM team has increased to provide technology to the growing ecosystem of Partners. They still guide us today and I am confident that they will help the ARM team to continue to develop and to create and licence technology for years to come.