Hector de J. Ruiz

AGE: 56

CLAIM TO FAME: Started his career at Texas Instruments Inc. in the early 1970s when TI was recognized as the premier technology company. Later held leadership positions at Motorola Inc., where he spent 22 years in that firm's semiconductor division. Oversaw the overhaul of Motorola's semiconductor products sector in the mid-1990s when he was that group's president.

WHAT HE'S DOING NOW: Joined Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in January 2000 as president and chief operating officer. Now overseeing AMD's development of 64-bit technology and migration paths from 32-bit technology.

When Hector de J. Ruiz talks about ecosystems, he doesn't mean wetlands and biodiversity. Rather, he means the confluence of products, devices, content and infrastructure needed to make a new technology ubiquitous -- and customer-focused.

"No ecosystem was built around the delivery of broadband," Ruiz says, contrasting broadband's current sad state with that of e-mail, the Internet and PCs, which form a robust technological ecosystem.

Ruiz says he sees the next big technology ecosystem as one that enables seamless "anywhere" connectivity among data, devices and people. By the end of the decade, he expects to see users accessing any application and data they require, regardless of where they are or what device is at their fingertips.

Standards, powerful devices, intelligence in the network and XML will all play roles in creating this ecosystem. "The combination of the right computing technology and connectivity can be phenomenally awesome," Ruiz says.

But he cautions that ecosystems must serve real customer needs, which could challenge innovators as well as IT departments. "The CIO must become closer to the CEO to ensure the customer is at the center of projects a company undertakes for its ROI," Ruiz says.

Being customer-centric will be the main differentiator among competitors as computing power grows exponentially, but that power will be ineffectual if it isn't meeting a customer need, Ruiz says. He predicts that $100 will probably buy more than 1 billion transistors in 10 years.

Users will expect technology to work, and work as simply for them as the air they breathe in nature's ecosystem, he says. "Technology will be so ubiquitous, so pervasive in all we do, we won't notice it," Ruiz says.

Watson is a freelance writer in Chicago. Contact her at sjwatson@interaccess.com.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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