The value of embedded systems in the distribution channel was reinforced in recent weeks as Avnet Inc. dedicated global sales and support resources to the embedded market segment. Ed Smith, president of Avnet Electronics Marketing, Americas, was named as senior vice president of Avnet embedded systems, global, earlier this year.
For the past year, Smith has overseen both EM Americas and Avnet’s global embedded offering, and has worked across the Avnet organization to develop a cohesive global vision and strategic framework for Avnet’s embedded business.
The effort is two-fold, Smith told EPS. Avnet continues to provide consistent products and services across its three major regions: the Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and the Far East. Secondly, as embedded products span both of Avnet’s operating units – Electronics Marketing (EM) and Technology Solutions (TS) -- its business model is unique. “Many of the suppliers that we use are selling both through EM and TS,” Smith explained. “[Avnet embedded] enables us to provide a full solution – we call it ‘from the edge to the enterprise’—that includes hardware, software and services.”
For example, Smith said, a customer that has an Intel-based architecture can buy a board with Intel already on it or have Avnet design an Intel-based board from the component level on up. From there, Avnet can download software, integrate the board into a “white box” end-product and provide post-sales service and support.
“One of the differences [in the embedded unit] is we not only sell hardware and design services, we do after-market services,” Smith explained. “We can install the end product and provide the warrantee. The ‘sale’ may go on for a period of time so the customer relationships are deep and lengthy.” According to Transparency Market Research, the global embedded systems market, valued at $152.94 billion in 2014, will grow to $233.13 billion by 2021.
Avnet significantly expanded its stake in embedded in 2013 with the acquisition of Europe’s MSC Group. MSC will remain a standalone company, Smith said, because it manufactures boards for the IoT and industrial embedded space. MSC customers may require components different from those carried by Avnet.
“One of the things we are tying accomplish is to sell components and white box computers and IT storage and systems,” Smith said. “The customer may want any one of those things, so different people within Avnet will be contacted by the customer.” The embedded business will work across all Avnet units to configure a customized solution. It can provide software if customers aren’t developing their own, and it can optimize that software with customized hardware. "Avnet is able to build in multiple markets so customer won’t have to," Smith added. "We make it pretty easy to design and build anywhere, and we can install and warrantee those products.”
Now that the embedded unit is global, the group can scale its resources based on customer demand and market needs. “There are different maturity levels [in embedded] as you go region to region,” Smith said. “The EU is catching up [to the Americas] and Asia still has some work to do. Nevertheless, customers want a partner that looks and feels the same no matter where the customer wants to build. You can build in China and service in China, rather than design in the Americas for a product that’s consumed in another region.”
"We've had some pretty good growth in the [embedded market]," Smith added.
Smith will continue reporting directly to Gerry Fay, president, Avnet Electronics Marketing, worldwide. Beginning July 3, 2016, Smith will commit all of his efforts to Avnet’s embedded business.