The value of the embedded systems market is expected to grow at a CAGR of above 6% between 2016 and 2021, generating estimated revenue of USD 225.34 billion by the end of 2021.[1] The figures clearly underline the increasing value of embedded systems in our rapidly digitizing world.

Embedded systems are a big and essential part of modern industries spanning across automotive, industrial, energy, transport, aerospace, medical devices and so on. Today, they are further being driven by technologies like Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality. For market players to capitalize on the projected growth, and develop key sustainable strategies, it is critical to identify the mega trends that are currently shaping the industry.

  1. Digital transformation vs. Digital disruption Digital transformation and Digital disruption are not the same and it’s important for the embedded industry players to know the difference. Digital transformation mainly refers to organizational change using digital as a lever to bring about business transformation. Digital disruption, on the other hand, refers to external changes enveloping the entire industry, which if embraced quickly can transform but it can become a threat if internal transformation is slower to catch up.

    Early adopters such as GE and Bombardier are driving inside out re-invention through digital transformation. GE decided to respond to the urgent need of digital transformation around 2009 and in the process became ‘the 125 year old start-up’. Today, digital transformation has enabled GE’s world-class machines to be connected to each other and to people, so they can be serviced, monitored, and diagnosed for problems in real-time.

    Conversely, industries like hi-tech and communications are going through digital disruption. A research study of 135 industry leaders in more than 50 countries by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) found that 86 percent of CSP executives see digital disruption as the biggest competitive threat to their market in the next five years.

    The opportunity lies with embedded systems players to deliver key leverages for successful digital disruption and transformation. “IoT applications powered by low power sensors is a key design requirement, and this is fuelling the growth of the global SoC market which is expected to reach the market size of USD 81 billion by end of 2022.” In addition, embedded engineering has a major role to play in mitigating cyber security related concerns brought on by big data analytics, IoT, and mobile computing. Cybersecurity modules are now being built into smart devices right from the start.

  2. Artificial Intelligence is the new realityArtificial Intelligence, which includes technologies like machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing, has come out of sci-fi labs and into our lives. Soon it will augment and extend to virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application, including embedded systems.

    The automotive industry has been one of the forerunners to leverage AI technology to augment and mimic human actions. BMW has deployed AI in six distinct areas – cars that diagnose and fix themselves, connect with other vehicles, give advice about driving or maintenance, detect and adapt to the consumer’s preferences, connect with user’s other devices, and fully autonomous cars which can drive themselves to a large degree. BMW’s AI capabilities depend extensively on the sensors placed on the vehicle picking up weather data and collecting traffic data to enhance its dataset and services.

    In the hi-tech industry, Hitachi is using natural language processing for predictive crime analytics. Streams of data from sensors and Internet including weather, social media, proximity to schools, subway stations, gunshot scans, 911 calls, etc., are continually processed to find crime patterns that humans would miss.

    Possibly the most fascinating applications of AI are being witnessed in the healthcare industry. Medical devices maker Medtronic, is applying deep learning technologies to the 125 million patient days of anonymous data from their medicine monitors to prevent, predict and control medical conditions on time.

  3. More than products“The digital revolution is creating a fundamental shift in the way businesses operate. The focus being more on outcomes,” there is a shift from products to product enabled operations, which deliver more value to the customer. And this shift is being experienced across verticals. Examples include aero-engine manufacturers gathering real-time performance data to make the engines more efficient, to connected homes with ‘retail shelves’, where companies can launch and get valuable quantitative and qualitative feedback on their products.

    Such a shift is also bringing immense possibilities in preventive healthcare. Smart wheelchairs fixed with sensors, which send real-time operational and biometric data to healthcare professionals, stretchers with RFID tags that help logistical management within a hospital, and smart pill containers that notify if medications are being consumed regularly and indicate when a refill is required, are some of the many examples. This exemplifies how product manufacturers are going all out in providing more than just products to fulfil the demanding requirements of new-age customers.

  4. Leverage cross-domain knowledgeThe digital world as opened up unique possibilities for industries to leverage best practices from each other. For instance, aerospace industry has the most stringent safety standards and processes laid out which can serve as a guide for other industries. The embedded operating system in avionics systems is designed with walls between safety-critical environments and software components that aren’t too critical to safety. This can prevent hacks or other disruptions from affecting the safe operation of the airplane. This technology can be cross-leveraged in smart cars, preventing hackers from accessing safety-critical areas, such as the steering system, brakes or engine through the non-critical ECU system.

    Similarly, medical devices industry has pioneered in the field of image processing and has set standards like DICOM to share and view diagnostic images digitally. Companies like QuEST Global are leveraging their image processing capabilities from medical devices domain in the aerospace domain for predicting flameout in jet engines.

    The new consultative role of the service provider in embedded engineering space is to ensure that they identify and exploit cross-domain linkages for their customers.

What do customers expect from their embedded engineering services providers?

Key embedded product engineering service providers need to partner with their customers to provide future-ready solutions, enable leveraging of cross-domain knowledge to increase efficiency, and most important of all, ensure that they meet the high security and safety standards demanded by the connected landscape of the future.

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[1] https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/06/08/1010414/0/en/Global-Embedded-Systems-Market-Will-Reach-USD-225-34-billion-by-2021.html

Written by Divya Agarwal

on 21 Sep 2017

Divya Agarwal is part of the Global Marketing & Communications team at QuEST Global. In her current role, she leads the integrated marketing campaigns for digital solutions, software product engineering and embedded product engineering services. In addition, she manages analyst relations and drives content marketing for building the corporate brand. An engineer and MBA by education, she follows the emerging technology trends keenly and loves to read or cook in her spare time.