Divining the Future of Electronics

What will the electronics industry landscape look like in five to 10 years from now? Which products will be dominant, what type of design methodologies will prevail, which technological innovations will consumers prefer over others, and what types of manufacturing systems and processes will triumph as companies seek to differentiate themselves and create winning products?

These were some of the questions EBN and researcher {complink 9171|Frost & Sullivan} set out to answer in a survey conducted in April, and the initial results indicate a range of diverging thoughts in some areas and also a high level of consensus in several other segments. The pool of respondents included engineers, scientists, product managers, market managers, business development experts, and manufacturers. While respondents may disagree on processes and areas they believe will dominate, there appears to be a level of consensus that technology, and especially electronics, will continue to infiltrate all segments of the economy globally.

Respondents see technology continuing to evolve with the focus being on making products smaller, smarter, faster, and more automated. In response to the question of what factors they see impacting electronics manufacturing and connected devices, 56 percent of respondents chose smart homes and smart buildings. A further 26.1 percent selected smart cars while the remainder mentioned smart factories. What this means, according to Lavanya Rammohan, the Frost & Sullivan analyst who coordinated the survey, is that the concept of “smart” everything “will make significant inroads into design and validation stages.”

EBN and Frost & Sullivan divided the research into various segments for easy analysis. In addition to the factors that would impact most on electronics manufacturing and connected devices, respondents were asked to comment on the following: innovative technology of the future, consumer electronics that will influence future demand trends and innovation, trends influencing manufacturing evolution and techniques, innovation in electronic product design impacting factory of the future, key factors for the factory of the future, and vertical markets with the greatest potential for growth in 2020.

A PDF of the preliminary results can be downloaded by clicking here. I will also write more about the various conclusions in future blogs. In the meantime, here is a summary of key findings:

  • More powerful products
  • with increased intelligence and disruptive technology. Increasing OEM reliance on contract manufacturers to support product design and design for manufacturability.

  • Better gains and ROI
  • for customers by increasing shareholder value and “innovating to Zero” concept.

  • Proving better price
  • performance for customers by further penetration into niche markets, emerging economies, and innovative materials.

  • Reducing communication gap
  • and facilitating higher levels of synergy and trust in operations between supply chain partners.

  • Increased attention on value-creating services
  • such as aftermarket services, as opposed to focus on cost savings.

  • Companies will benefit from product trends:
  • increasing virtualization and mobile applications, real-time communication and diagnostics, and monitoring blurring lines between human and machine interface (robotics in medical, etc.).

  • Possible convergence
  • of EMS and ODM business models and emergence of new business models.

9 comments on “Divining the Future of Electronics

  1. saranyatil
    June 5, 2012

    There is going to be a big revolution in the next few years.We will be smartly surrounded by smart products. The next big change will be in the field of  robotics. there will be robos to do everything for you. gesture recognition, Boom in nannotechnology, smart homes, very very smart cars, new vehicles which may fly its too much of an imagintaion may be it can happen.


  2. mfbertozzi
    June 5, 2012

    I agree with you and in addition, if we consider 10 years horizon as per Bolaji's article, we would also consider evolution for interplanetary communications and technology-ecosystem to provide them, it seems key players as Google, for example, are really active in the segment.

  3. bolaji ojo
    June 5, 2012

    I can't wait for the self-driving vehicle. I agree there's a lot of innovative products that are in development and which will change the way we relate to others, live, work, etc. However, the slow pace of product introduction and even slower adoption rate may mean many of these technologies will get to market much later than we imagine.

    It all comes down to profit not just functionality. Companies have to find a way to make money from these innovations otherwise they'll continue to keep them on dusty shelves.

  4. mfbertozzi
    June 5, 2012

    In my opinion it is a matter of market's power for “absorbing” innovation; tablet or smartphone for example, initially, were more expensive than other techs, but the power for absorbing them was tremendous, then the topic could be “technology and innovations yes but only easy to use “

  5. Wale Bakare
    June 5, 2012

    It is becoming evident more businesses & organizations are moving towards virtualization, and this would probably be experienced in emerging and matured markets. We still have to take quick measure to address this: continous growing in dependency on internet is another angle worth critical analysis – cybercrime and cybersecurity as well its governance. 

  6. Wale Bakare
    June 5, 2012

    Companies have to find a way to make money from these innovations otherwise they'll continue to keep them on dusty shelves.

    Yes Bolaji, i totally agreed with that.  Take driver-less vehicle for an instance – Google, Stanford university and other frontiers are making drastic measure in pushing this to full commercialization. Last few days, Volvo testing convoy of driverless vehicles on the road in Spain.

  7. Adeniji Kayode
    June 11, 2012


    @ Saranyati,

    i,m not sure if our imagination can really pridict what electronics could be like in the nearest future.

    One thing that gives direction to what this could be is our needs ans so because of that, electronics will continue to be smartly smart.

  8. saranyatil
    June 11, 2012

    @ Adeniji

    I agree Our requirements will be accomplished through Electronics.

    but now if we look what we had imagined or dreamt long back is becoming true . In the same things will happen in a faster pace and will add a new value to all our lives.


  9. bolaji ojo
    June 11, 2012

    Kayode, We may not be able to accurately predict what the future of electronics will be but we can use some metrics to come as close as possible. I agree with you that a good pointer towards what the future holds could be “our needs.” Companies respond to perceived societal needs and this could be useful in determining what kinds of products we would be using years from now.

    The most successful manufacturers, however, don't try to figure out what we need: they just simply make what they think we would like, then market them as if we've always needed them! Others take a more simplistic approach. They simply take what we have now and make them easier to use, turning an old product into a new and must-have product. That's the story behind Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad.

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