I’ve always been good at connecting the dots. I find it easier to understand a novel concept if I can apply it to something I already know about. For instance, I was reading an interesting paper about knowledge management titled Knowledge Management & New Organization Forms: A Framework for Business Model Innovation by Yogesh Malhotra, Ph.D and was thinking how much of the basic concepts discussed could apply to the semiconductor industry as it strives to adopt 3D integration.

The author talks about how in the past, a stable and predictable business environment allowed executives to make future decisions by looking at how things were done historically. However as the business environment begins to go through change more rapidly and unpredictably, we need to be more flexible and anticipate what needs to be done. According to this, companies who stick to rigid ‘best practices’ are doomed to failure, while those who continually re-examine assumptions that support those best practices, and re-interpret the information based on the current situation will transition more successfully into the new era.

When I think about this in terms of the semiconductor industry, and the debate between the Evolutionaries and the Revolutionaries, I see the Evolutionaries as those who make future predictions and decisions based solely on historical benchmarks, while the Revolutionary risk takers acknowledge that fundamental rather than incremental change is called for to succeed in this fast-paced world.

This is also why I question market analysts who insist on comparing the progress of 3D TSV adoption to that of flip chip adoption. Sure, it took 30 years for flip chip to progress from proof of concept to volume production, but in those 30 years, a whole technology age has surged forward, picking up speed as it goes. Market drivers today – consumer products, cell phones, smart phones, etc. didn’t even exist when flip chip processes were conceptualized. How can you compare market adoption trends when the technology and knowledge we have access today is far more advanced than during at least the first 20 years of flip chip development?

Another concept challenged in this paper is the idea that knowledge management technologies store and distribute human intelligence and experience. He points out, quite succinctly, I thought, that technology stores data, not intelligence and experience. We cannot discount human interaction and involvement here. Data can be interpreted differently by different people based the situation, their beliefs and understanding; and will likely make different decisions accordingly. For example, some see TSVs as a wire, and some see its potential as a device. Some point out thermal limitations of TSVs, while others see TSVs as a way to handle thermal management.

Personally, this paper validated many of my own beliefs and ideas. Maybe someone else would consider it to be hogwash. I guess time will tell. – F.v.T.

Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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