The Internet of Things, automotive, wearables, industrial markets, and changing customer demands drive Avnet business strategies

April 16, 2014 OpenSystems Media

This week Avnet (www.avnet.com) held its Media Day to talk business, strategies, and preview product roadmaps. Following are some highlights of the day’s presentations.

Connected markets driving business
Automotive and industrial markets some of the top growth, Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas President Ed Smith said. The industrial market also includes medical, energy management, manufacturing, test and measurement, among other areas. Senior Vice President, Sales, Chuck Delph cited wearables as a new and quickly growing area for Avnet, as even a few years ago wearables weren’t considered relevant to Avnet. Delph echoed automotive as a growing area as more and more embedded components are making their way into cars.

There was a discussion on the Internet of Things, if the hype lives up to the reality, and what the future might hold for the IoT. Alex Iuorio, Senior VP, Supplier Management and Business Development, cited a statistic that 50 percent of people in the world are connected, but 98.9 percent of “things” are not. Though with the growing Internet of Things movement of connecting all sorts of things, we can expect this to grow, with 50 billion devices (or more) expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, all requiring sensors and networking components to get them gathering data and connected to the IoT. John Salemme, Vice President and General Manager of Avnet Embedded says the IoT is also driving growth in the cloud, Big Data, and High-Performance Computing (HPC) areas like in high-end healthcare (genome sequencing, etc.).

Salemme also discussed Avnet’s embedded division. In Avnet’s view, the embedded space has a focus on standard hardware and custom software. The key market drivers for their embedded business are commoditization in the OEM market – including custom software and changing expectations in the industrial market – and the IoT explosion requiring always-connected data to the cloud and the associated challenges of dealing with Big Data.

Avnet business unit Rorke Global Solutions’ (www.rorke.com) Vice President and General Manager Scott MacDonald discussed an interesting take on an emerging area: K-12 education connected ecosystems. U.S. education mandates for increased digital learning and a move away from paper are putting pressure on schools to create budget-friendly, teacher-friendly, and student-friendly systems of devices and educational content that just work. MacDonald discussed Rorke’s strategies for creating these ecosystems that Embedded Computing Design will be covering more in depth in the future.

MacDonald also briefly discussed its connected retail system focus, and cold storage solutions for efficient, quick access of infrequently needed data.

Changing customer habits
As buying habits change, Avnet’s service strategy is evolving. Engineers of Tiers 1-4 now often buy kits and boards for their own use, as seen with the maker/DIY movement. Avnet caters to these low-volume clients with their e-commerce division. Through e-commerce, Avnet offers engineering support and self-serve capabilities, and aims to be able to provide services and products for these engineers as they go from a single engineer or small team of engineers with an idea, to a small business, through the Tier ladder all the way up through when they become the next big company in the future.

Hardware and software products
Jim Beneke, Vice President, Global Technical Marketing discussed Avnet’s kit and board strategy. Avnet leverages its partnership with a wide variety of suppliers to make its own boards. For example, its Mini ITX platform incorporates 17 suppliers’ components on one board. Avnet’s partnership with software vendors also allows it to provide reference designs code examples. Training, workshops, and seminars round out offerings around their boards and kits to provide complete support along with their board products. Avnet’s current board and kit offerings include its ZedBoard and MicroZed based on Xilinx’s Zynq-7000 SoCs, and we can expect to see some announcements related to the “Zed” product lines in the near future.

In the software realm, the Embedded Software Store (www.embeddedsoftwarestore.com), operated by Avnet, has announced its expansion of software architectures beyond ARM, including MSP430 and PowerPC cores. More on this here.

Monique DeVoe, Managing Editor
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