Name a product today and somewhere someone is trying to figure out how to infuse it with semiconductors, overlay it with software applications or connect it with other segments of the economy. Connectivity is the rage today; the internet is making possible today the ability for everything we use to wirelessly transmit and exchange huge amounts of information that require equally enormous processing power and equipment.
Analysts, industry executives, observers and investors have given this phenomenon a moniker; they call it the “Internet of Things” (IoT). That’s cool. What’s more important to observers, though, is that this development would not be happening were it not for the series of innovations and other technological advances that have taken place in the electronics design world over the last several decades. In equipment design and components development, companies are digging deep into their product portfolio and leveraging mounds of intellectual property to create new offerings bound together by the concepts of connectivity. (See: Sensors to Play Key Role in IoT).
The wave of connectivity sweeping through the global industrial economy has implications for all companies involved in the electronics design and supply chains. It is creating challenges as well as opportunities for most industry players. On one hand, the Internet of Things phenomenon is opening up new markets, helping to expand traditional sectors and offering companies the opportunity to extend current offerings into adjacent economic segments. (See: Flextronics Places Huge Bet on Google).
The challenges posed by the Internet of Things are onerous, though. The lines separating components suppliers, customers and rivals are blurring as companies seek opportunities outside their traditional sectors. In fact, the era of technology companies being separated by distinctions such as software vendors and hardware vendors is fast coming to an end. Everyone, it seems, is in each other’s business.
Navigating the maze of conflicting relationships can be both challenging and profitable, according to industry observers; while some companies are floundering others are leveraging existing assets to enter higher-margin markets. No industry segment is excluded from the pervasive presence of IoT. Most manufacturers of hardware goods are exploring the possibility of infusing their products – notwithstanding the industry – with internet connectivity and the ability to generate and share information.