Ron Nersesian is the President and CEO of Keysight Technologies. Keysight provides world-class electronic design and measurement solutions to accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world. They have the broadest and deepest portfolio of solutions and expertise to meet the world’s toughest electronic measurement and design challenges. Keysight develops solutions that help bring electronic products to market faster and at lower cost – from design simulation, to prototype validation, to manufacturing test, to optimization in network and cloud environments. They serve customers around the globe spanning the worldwide communications ecosystem, aerospace and defence, automotive and energy, semiconductor, and general electronics end markets.
We caught up with Ron after his first interview with us in late 2018 to get an update on Keysight’s progress and hear about their revolutionary Leadership Model.
What achievements or milestones has Keysight achieved since our previous interview in August 2018?
Our fiscal year 2018, which ended October 31, 2018, was a year of great success with strong revenue and earnings growth for Keysight. But I would say our top achievement was transforming Keysight to better serve our customers. The biggest change we made was transforming from hardware-centric products to full solutions, where solutions often consist of hardware plus software plus services. And we began some significant efforts to improve our customers’ productivity across the workflow.
With technology changes happening, like 5G, autonomous and electric vehicles, and IoT, customers’ needs were becoming increasingly complex and a single piece of hardware no longer would fully meet their needs. Customers today do not want just one product – but rather a solution that might include multiple products, software, or services. This was a huge change in how we had always operated.
As part of this shift toward software-centric solutions, we invested heavily in our software capabilities. We realized that at each stage of development – design simulation, prototype validation and production optimization – different teams create their own test parameters and analysis points. Traditionally, design simulation software tends to operate independently from prototype validation lab systems, which tend to operate independently from production test systems. We introduced our new software platform, PathWave, where design, test and analysis from each stage can be shared with the next. This not only improves the design but saves a lot of time previously used to reinvent tests typical in most developments.
PathWave allows our customers to accelerate innovation and product development from concept through manufacturing and deployment. It’s the industry’s first software platform that will integrate design, test, measurement and analysis in a completely programmable environment. It combines design software, instrument control and application-specific test software in an open development environment allowing users to create high-performance solutions fast.
Another milestone was articulating and codifying the operational practices that have made the company successful and that drives us to continuously improve. We call it the Keysight Leadership Model, which has allowed all employees – nearly 13,000 men and women across the globe – to see their role through the lens of our imperative: customer success.
What are the main components of Keysight’s Leadership Model? Can you introduce us to each one?
We put Customer Success at the heart of the Keysight Leadership Model because everything we do at Keysight is about enabling the success of our customers who are technology visionaries and leaders in their fields. We know that when they are successful, we’re successful.
So, how do we enable their success? It starts with market insight and understanding where the market is headed, what customers want, and where we can offer differentiated solutions that create the most value for them. Then we use that market insight to allocate our capital and decide which projects and parts of the business we want to invest in. If we have the right market insights and allocate our capital properly, we can deliver first-to-market solutions that our customers truly need, when they need them.
In addition, we drive operational excellence in everything we do to ensure our company is run as efficiently and effectively as possible. And we enable the growth of our employees, who make it all happen, with new career opportunities, training and challenging work. Surrounding all of that are our values which trace back to our company’s earliest days in a Silicon Valley garage, and our positioning to each of our three primary stakeholder constituencies.
What are the values that provide the backbone to the Leadership Model?
- We operate with uncompromising integrity. We do what’s right, every time.
- We are committed to corporate social responsibility. We have a long history of giving back to the community and supporting environmental sustainability through ethical and socially responsible operations.
- We have high expectations and strong results ownership, so we always deliver the highest levels of performance.
- We embrace a fearless vision of where technology can take us, and we possess the courage and passion to tackle challenging problems at the speed of our customers.
- We operate as One Keysight. This means we bring the entire organization to bear when solving customer problems and driving results for our shareholders.
Achieving customer success is important to Keysight: how do you achieve this and how does the Leadership Model play a part?
Our entire company is tuned to enable our customers’ success. The Keysight Leadership Model is our operating framework and it impacts everything we do. It is the philosophy that permeates every aspect of our operations – driving innovation, speed and excellence in execution.
To achieve customer success, we partner with our customers to understand their challenges, needs, and timeframe to be first-to-market. Everything else flows from this. We then combine this understanding with our work in various standards bodies, our industry-focused technology research, and our measurement expertise to provide customers with early-market solutions that evolve as they evolve.
For example, Keysight has collaborated with over 34 leading companies in the 5G space including Qualcomm, Nokia and Verizon, to enable an entire ecosystem to accelerate global 5G new radio (NR) deployments. We cover the entire 5G technology stack, starting with millimeter wave capability which means frequencies at 28 GHz and above, the ability to emulate 5G protocols, and 5G NR measurements, which has allowed us to deliver solutions to the market. Our participation in the 3GPP international standards body has been another source of value to our customers. Measurement science must be reinvented in context of new technologies being deployed by 5G, and we are proud to have made over 300 contributions to the standards, which has allowed the ecosystem to move forward with confidence and design for interoperability.
In the same vein, how does the Leadership Model benefit your technology and innovative pursuits?
Keysight strives to always have a thorough understanding of market trends, which enables us to identify and act on the best opportunities to create value for customers. This market insight allows us to move with speed and focus, outpacing our competitors and delivering first-to-market solutions that address our customers’ biggest challenges.
For example, understanding key market trends led us to acquire Ixia, which closed in April 2017. Keysight’s measurement leadership, strong worldwide presence, and proven operational discipline, combined with Ixia’s expertise in IP network assessment and a software-centric business team enable us to deliver a unique range of solutions that help our customers develop next-generation products as well as optimize and secure their networks.
As a result, our customers have a single source for leading-edge test and visibility solutions that address the fastest-growing communications and networking trends including 5G, IoT, security, cloud, and application performance across the network.
As the market-leading wireless test and measurement company in the world, we will continue to be laser-focused on the electronic technologies of the future.
How have things at Keysight changed since the Keysight Leadership Model was designed and implemented?
The Keysight Leadership Model is an articulation and codification of many practices we had adopted and that were operational within the company, in some cases for a long period of time. Having it expressed in a single, cohesive model, helps ensure all employees are applying the Keysight Leadership Model in their roles. It also helps us ramp new employees quickly and helps in describing to customers and investors what we do and how we do it.
As I’ve met with our employees around the world, it’s evident that they are excited about the Keysight Leadership Model and are embracing it in their daily work.
This model has been and will continue to be the enabler to our mission of accelerating innovation to connect and secure the world. It permeates every aspect of our operations and drives innovation, speed and operational excellence.
As a part of the model, how do you encourage employee growth at the company?
At Keysight, we enable innovators to bring their technologies to market first and to help connect and secure the world. This mission inspires our employees to initiate new ideas, tackle problems, support our customers and create value for our shareholders. Connecting our work to our mission fuels our aspiration to contribute, take risks, learn and grow.
Keysight maintains a dynamic environment where employees can drive customer success, act with an innovative mindset, and thrive in their careers. This environment supports employees throughout their careers, connecting their passion and drive with business results. It plays an important part in career satisfaction and is supported by the strategies, practices and programs associated with employee growth.
Some of these programs include continuing education, rotational assignments, internal and external technical and leadership development courses, opportunities to work at different sites and in different countries, and various types of coaching and mentoring. But it is organic and always evolving.
In this environment, our employees welcome and anticipate change, and deliver breakthroughs every day. Employee growth aligns directly with Keysight’s business strategy. When our people grow, our customers succeed, and our company grows.
We operate as One Keysight. This means we bring the entire organization to bear when solving customer problems and driving results for our shareholders.
What is the process for developing first-to-market solutions to stay ahead of the competition?
Keysight’s commitment to our customers—and our way to win—is to be the first to deliver solutions to customer problems across the industries we support. To do that successfully, we work with our customers to understand their problems and often partner with them in our R&D efforts. We collaborate on technology and solution roadmaps, both theirs and ours.
We understand that a solution goes beyond a leading product—it combines all the elements required for a customer to solve a measurement problem, typically a problem associated with a new technology wave. And we strive to bring our full capabilities to bear, using the formula that we express as “Hardware + Software + People (or expertise) = Insights.”
Being first means doing what has not been done before, and the path may not always be direct or known. The exact nature of the solution may change during development—and may be different for the lead customer(s) before becoming standard at later stages of market demand.
The solution may start out as a not-yet-optimized collection of capabilities, delivered, and monetized in a unique way. Or it may look like a well-executed standard product, plus the appropriate application software, accessories, and services, from the beginning. The overarching commonality is that it is first, ahead of any competition, and in time to meet the customer need.
What is Keysight’s mission in the years ahead? How do you aim to achieve this?
Our mission is to accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world. With the pace and breadth of innovation in the market, testing and validation demands are growing as well. Our customers’ needs have never been greater. We are seeing a real drive to keep up with Nielsen’s Law governing the speed of Internet connections and Swanson’s Law looking at the cost of photovoltaic cells. These are enabling access to digital information in many more places than we’ve seen it previously. Effectively, our customers are bringing products to market faster than ever and trying to optimize their designs across more domains as they strive to capitalize on new technologies.
Keysight has always been good at helping designers simulate their innovation, then test it on the bench and in production. With the addition of Ixia, we added to that the ability to test and monitor its data handling capacity at the industry’s largest scale, and to test and monitor its security integrity. And with the addition of Anite previously, we added the ability to do device testing using network emulation solutions as well as drive testing for signal integrity and user quality of experience.
We are finding these capabilities are critical for our customers, many of whom are migrating from point product offerings to our software-centric solutions. Their testing needs are growing to include test-in-motion and live monitoring, and Keysight will be there with solutions that meet their needs today and well into the future.
When our people grow, our customers succeed, and our company grows.
Have there been any recent success stories as the result of your work and the Keysight Leadership Model that you can share with us?
One interesting example concerns our efforts in automotive solutions. This is an area that we recognized several years ago as an unmet need as the world transformed from traditional, internal combustion vehicles to electric and hybrid electric, connected ones. There was a growing need for design and measurement contributions for companies and engineers who didn’t necessarily have a great deal of expertise in the areas that Keysight does. So that was the initial market insight. From there we realized that while we had a bunch of capabilities, we didn’t have everything that was needed, especially in terms of the high-power capabilities required for charging system test. This informed our capital allocation decisions to both invest organically as well as in M&A, where we acquired a very innovative German company called Scienlab. Now we have the Keysight Charging Discovery System and related first-to-market solutions. We’re applying operational excellence to take those to scale, and we’re excited to help our newest employees, as well as our longstanding ones, continue to learn about these new automotive electronics technologies, so we can keep innovating and continue the cycle. That’s an example of how we’re delivering customer success in new areas and growing the company beyond our traditional markets.
It isn’t a coincidence that we have a passion for understanding and resolving our customers’ biggest challenges, at their speed. This passion is propelled and supported by our “One Keysight” culture. It is guided by doing what is best for the company and our customers. It is nimble, adaptable, highly collaborative, honest, diverse, challenging, respectful, friendly, supportive, and safe. It rewards results, speed, courage, and creativity, and values all ideas, especially bold ones that accelerate innovation without impeding quality. We take pride in our resourceful nature, knowing there are many ways to reach the same destination. However, we’re just getting started, and anticipate more great things for Keysight in the future as we continue to roll out KLM on a global basis.