Walking around the recent Mobile World Congress and its parallel show Four Years From Now, it was hard to miss all the cars parked in the show booths.
Over the last few years, cars have had an increasingly noticeable presence at the mobile industry's marquis event, and this year was no different. Carmakers, chipmakers, mobile network operators, and even Visa were showcasing vehicles with all sorts of bells and whistles aimed at making the connected lifestyle even easier to attain. There were a flurry of announcements and news reports about the head-on collision happening between the Internet of Things, smart cars and on-the-go connectivity, online purchasing, and smart homes link ups.
So, when I happened upon the January press release about EMS company Flextronics setting up a new location in Detroit, it underlined the important influence the automotive and high-tech sectors now have on each other.
Undoubtedly, the two industries have long been aligned to one extent or another given the number of electronics components now housed within the standard, modern-day vehicle. But the IoT trend spotlights the critical design and supply chain relationship high-tech and automotive companies will have to strengthen to compete and win in the market.
Think about these stats for a minute, and the relationship's significance becomes even more obvious. According to M2M Research, 15% of the 85 million new vehicles sold in 2015 will have embedded connectivity solutions. By 2024, 89% of new cars sold worldwide will have embedded connectivity. Where will all this innovative, embedded connectivity in cars going to come from? Yes, of course, from component suppliers, ODMs and EMS companies who are racing to serve it up on a plate to automakers.
In Flextronics case, the company touts that it's bringing its Silicon Valley innovation to Detroit, something I'm sure we will see others copying soon if we believe that component and systems designers will want to be close to their auto OEM customers and more efficiently share ideas. Flextronics said its specialized automotive team and newly opened Flextronics facility will enable “innovation and disruptive technology development that further supports customer's needs for differentiation.” Product design and development, engineering, validation testing, development garage, prototyping and quality engineering services will be up for offer.
“Flextronics is uniquely positioned to help OEMs as they move from the 'Information Age' into the 'Intelligence Age' with advanced technologies and embedded sensors, software, processing, and connectivity with other devices and the cloud that are enabling entirely new functionality and more applications in the marketplace than ever before,” said Chris Obey, president of Flextronics Automotive, said in a statement.
Flextronics already has some footing in the Detroit area. At the end of 2012, the company acquired Saturn Electronics & Engineering Inc. in Rochester Hills, Mich., and expanded its service offering in automotive energy management and vehicle electronics.
How do the changes happening in the automotive industry fit into your existing design and supply chain strategies? How are you shifting focus to drive more value into this sector?