The current estimates for how the Internet of Things (IoT) will impact the global economy runs into trillions of dollars. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), expects “50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020” and says the activities related to IoT would could amount to $19 trillion “in value” for enterprises and governments “over the next nine years.”
Those are huge numbers. They won’t happen, though, without design engineers, components suppliers, distributors, OEMs, contract manufacturers, logistics companies, software developers, IT services providers, telecom service companies, and all of the enterprises that provide those critical supply chain management services that make the global economy hum. What role will your company play in this potentially disruptive market and how will all of these varied enterprises collaborate to assure the smooth delivery of the parts, equipment, software and associated services required to make the Internet of Things market a success?
Some companies are already showing the way and pointing to the kind of actions or steps we all must take to benefit from and accelerate the smooth rollout of IoT products and services. In the electronics world a concerted effort needs to be undertaken to bring together the key players and explore all of the available market opportunities as well as the known and undetermined challenges companies will face in the manufacturing and delivery of the products expected to underpin this evolutionary trend.
This is why we are proposing the electronics industry immediately launch the “IoT Supply Chain Forum” as an annual or semiannual event bringing together all stakeholders and their support partners to discuss, plan and establish standards for the successful rollout of Internet of Things devices. The objectives of such a forum would include identifying key players and helping to highlight and resolve potential conflicts in operating systems as well as establishing interoperability of devices. This is critical because the Internet of Things will not work as well as is being projected without interoperability.
A few companies – dominant players, for example in the consumer electronics market -- might want to establish closed systems that could potentially shut out competitors and stymie the widespread acceptance of the systems. Key players that could lead this project will need to come from the ranks of the industry’s top components distributors, OEMs and major semiconductor and interconnects, passives and electromechanical components suppliers. The companies in this category include suppliers such as Broadcom, Freescale, Intel, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. From the ranks of distributors Arrow Electronics, Avnet, Digi-Key, Mouser, Future Electronics and WPG are the natural choices. We are hopeful one of these industry leaders would pioneer discussions to foster the creation of the IoT Supply Chain Forum.
Cisco System is already leading the way for OEMs with plans to host what it has termed the “Internet of Things World Forum.” The second annual IoT World Forum will be held October 14 – 16 this year in Chicago, the company announced today in a press release. Beyond a forum, Cisco is encouraging developers with the announcement also today of its “Internet of Things Innovation Grand Challenge” for startup businesses. Companies would compete for cash prizes to be awarded to developers of “breakthrough technologies and products created by startup businesses that will contribute to the growth and evolution of the Internet of Things,” the company said in the statement.
“The Internet of Things is creating a new powerful innovation cycle spanning across technologies, markets and domains,” said Maciej Kranz, vice president, Cisco Corporate Technology Group, in the statement. “Cisco is working with startups, innovators and research communities to foster technology breakthroughs and to accelerate their development and adoption via its global network of Innovation Centers. The Cisco Internet of Things Innovation Grand Challenge is another example of how we are partnering with the industry to fully realize the promise of the Internet of Things.”
That sounds fine. However, even Cisco as an OEM must realize a well-primed and supportive supply chain would be critical to achieving the full potentials of the Internet of Things. The electronics manufacturing industry shouldn’t wait for others to define its role. Let’s establish the IoT Supply Chain Forum soon.
DISCLAIMER: Bolaji Ojo is editor-in-chief and publisher of Electronics Purchasing Strategies. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone who promises to base his sometimes biased, possibly ignorant, occasionally irrelevant but absolutely stimulating thoughts on the subjective interpretation of verifiable facts alone. Any comments should be sent to the author at email@example.com.