Technology changes quickly, but not that quickly. Many high-tech developments start out as breakthroughs and then become trends. For the electronics supply chain, trends are stable — at least for awhile — and offer the market some level of predictability. Not all trends succeed for the long-term: Netbooks were a trend that petered out quickly.
In a ranking it does annually on technology trends, consultancy Deloitte looks at trends in two ways: re-emerging enablers — technologies executives have spent time and resources on that deserve a second look; and disruptive deployments — new technologies that provide new business models and new ways to operate.
The electronics supply chain is currently in a slow period, driven in part by seasonality and in part by macroeconomic instability. One of the most difficult tasks during such periods is planning for and managing inventory. Component makers have to make decisions on the best use for their factories; distributors have to determine what mix of products they are going to have on hand and where to warehouse inventory; and manufacturers have to figure out what demand is real and what is misplaced optimism. The technologies driving these decisions are one factor the upstream supply chain can use for planning.
Deloitte this year identified 10 IT trends it believes are going to shape 2012. Below are Deloitte's five re-emerging enablers — from a press release — with the effect they are expected to have in the next year. I've singled out the trends that are especially pertinent to the supply chain in terms of demand for hardware/components.
- Geo-spatial Visualization: Within the world of visualization, geospatial takes advantage of an explosion of geographical, location-aware data. Sources feeding this growth include new semi-structured data from mobile devices, geo-tagging of existing enterprise structured data and tapping into new streams of location-aware unstructured data.
Mobile devices — which include everything from GPS to tablets and laptops — will continue to drive demand for many categories of components.
- Digital Identities: The digital expression of identity is growing more complex every day. Digital identities should be unique, verifiable, able to be federated and non-repudiable. As individuals take a more active hand in managing their own digital identities, organizations are attempting to create single digital identities that retain the appropriate context across the range of credentials that an individual carries. Digital persona protection is becoming a strong area of cyber focus.
This is more software-driven, although the systems supporting digital security will require upgrades.
- Data Goes to Work: Organizations are finding ways to turn the explosion in size, volume and complexity of data into insight and value. This is occurring across structured and unstructured content from internal and external sources. This is expected to complement but not replace long-standing information management programs and investments in data warehouses, business intelligence suites, reporting platforms and relational database experience.
The key words here are “data warehouses, business intelligence suites, etc.” Lots of hardware opportunity.
- Measured Innovation: CIOs can help facilitate the discovery of the next wave of true disruption — and continuously improve the business of IT and the business of the business. Measured innovation offers an approach to managing both disciplines by providing a pragmatic way to identify, evaluate and launch potential innovations with a focus on aligning opportunities to areas that can fuel disruption and create measurable, attributable value.
This trend can impact business models, which can lead to efficiencies and savings within organizations.
- Outside-in Architecture: Flexibility in operating and business models is proving more important. As a result, need to share is colliding with need to know and shifting solution architectures away from a siloed, enterprise-out design pattern and into an outside-in approach to delivering business through rapidly evolving ecosystems.
The key here is “ecosystems” — a combination of devices as well as content/service offerings. Two examples: Apple and Amazon.
In an upcoming blog, we'll take a look at Deloitte's disruptive deployments.