November 24, 2016. Business Edge and IoT Podcasts Author: Richard Holmes

Arrow Bandwidth S2, Electronica Special

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Arrow Bandwidth S2, Electronica Special

This week David, Rich and producer Hannah are reporting from Electronica in Frankfurt. We've got podcast episodes, videos, further reading - all encompassed by a fantastic blog post from Rich.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud


On the “platform” between the cloakroom & the spaceship

Welcome to Munich!

We all know Munich’s biggest claim to fame is Oktoberfest. But between that and the carnival “Fasching” season, the city turns itself over to the 2,725 manufacturers and suppliers of electronics components and products from 52 countries who exhibit at the bi-annual Electronica Fair. During early November, with Teutonic precision the gigantic Messe venue welcomed over 73,000 visitors (89% of which are business decision makers). 

Bigger than you think

For the first time in the long history of Arrow Electronics attending Electronica, the Enterprise Computing Solutions arm of our business joined Arrow Components, Arrow Intelligent Solutions, Verical, Richardson RFPD and One Chip Stop (yep, we really are a much bigger business than I appreciated!), supported by the likes of Indiegogo on a stand covering over 900 m2 for the 4-day marathon trade show.

Arrow, in the space of 4-days effectively built another European office to act as our base to conduct back-to-back meetings, entertain clients and suppliers, showcase our business and – importantly -  our future strategy. But never mind the statistics – more of which later - why were ECS there? And what relevance to our ECS partners and suppliers is a blog on an electronics tradeshow? 

David Fearne, Richard Holmes, Arrow Bandwidth

Setting up Shop

Well, apart from the Arrow Bandwidth team making our home just outside the cloakroom, the electronics industry like most sectors today is being disrupted massively, and you could see that in the two main themes of Electronica 2016 – Digital & the Internet of Things - which spanned across 13 halls covering: 

>Electronic Design Test & Measurement Power Supplies

>Displays Semiconductors Wireless

>Automotive Embedded Systems Micro & Nano-Systems

>Servo & Drive Technology Sensor Technology Electromechanical

>PCBs & Manufacturing System Peripherals Passive Components

Traditional manufacturers of “things” are going through an accelerated period of change as everyone races to connect the world around us to the “Cloud” and drive new services, solutions and revenue streams before their competitors – old and newly emerging start-up. To do this, our ECS world of IT comes crashing into the Components and AIS world of sensors, parts, designers and makers. This is where our “One Arrow” view of the world emerged from.

When it all starts to become “One Arrow”

Through the use of analytics, our ECS vendors and partners can deliver insight to the data produced by “connected” devices, our security specialist can reduce the threat vectors exposed by the distortion and massive growth at the “edge” of networks caused by “things” and our service providers can host, manage and help achieve regulatory compliance of the ever growing industrial and commercial IoT space. However, this is all for naught if we don’t have the means to collect data, connect the sensor networks, process information at the edge and get it into the platforms that will deliver business outcome and augment or create new revenue streams for their creators.   

So, whilst Arrow Electronics and Intelligent Solutions do a fantastic job at contributing to the supply chain of projects such as the ESA’s Philae Lander (the first time Bandwidth has had a spacecraft for a neighbour!) and drive a multitude of amazing value through design and engineering services, our ongoing strategy of Five Years Out recognises that Arrow should be ever evolving to not just meet, but be a part of this disruption. 


Innovative Thinking and “Discontinuities”

It’s no coincidence that Arrow brought its various business units together at Electronica this year. The sum is greater than the whole in this brave new world of intelligent and connected systems which allow for social changes such as the sharing economy.

Matt Anderson, Arrow’s Chief Digital Officer, presented at several key note events throughout the week and described Arrow’s strategy as follows:

I have “two roles: Chief Data Officer driving innovative thinking and discontinuities and really interesting and big ideas is one part of my job, the other is the P&L of anything through our e-commerce channels. Some people may not know but we are one of the largest internet media companies in the world right now in technology. We own over 45 publications and 50 cloud-based design tools and 75% of the world’s electronics engineers, IoT design and cloud engineers come into one our media sites – 70 million times every month – we are one of the world’s largest reach engines……if you need to get the word out about something, that’s Arrow, we can help you do that.”

Why would a distributor own media companies and publications? 

Matt: “Probably a distributor wouldn’t, so let’s not call ourselves that ever again…. It’s our rich history and legacy and it does give us these advantages we can compete from. Stepping back…. why did I join Arrow?...when I look at digital in the B2C space I see that game all played out. At the end of the day, there will be only one company…we all know who…..and they will disintermate retail all around the world.”

“There will be a few retail brands that maybe have great locations that will maybe plug into that company’s supply chain and they will essentially fulfil everything for retail brands around the world. You see this happening time and time again – taxis, hotels – an effect on the internet which is externalities, in other words there is so much value in having all the “value” in one place and easy to find that it doesn’t make sense to have it in two places. “

“You have to realise these platforms allow you to go and extend that value…. that’s why Silicon Valley companies have the multiples they have. Fundamentally people know that big reach engines and platforms can find new ways to monetise.”

Looking at the Arrow Platform

Matt: “Let’s look at Arrow…. we were a hard asset platform…. we have these incredible design capabilities…. cloud capabilities…. software capabilities…amazing channel partners we are able to work with people who are trying to do new things we’ve never done before…. IoT platforms we can connect to…. API developers to work with you, supply chain capabilities…. allowing you to scale up…. Those are hard asset platforms; they have never really been connected together in a meaningful way before. We as a company haven’t talked about or thought about ourselves as a platform before. 

“’Platform’ is the word dasyure right now, but it’s all about the software……your phone is a platform...the really powerful thing is that the next revolution that is coming, not the internet revolution but the internet of things revolution has an important word in it...Thing...and things are much more complicated than the internet was. Things require you to go get certifications from governments. When someone hands it back to you, you have to be able to take it. It can’t blow up or catch fire on an airplane. These are very important things about things.”

“We want to make a platform…it has to be able to let someone who is prototyping….see what’s really working. They need to be able to design…connect to IBM Watson, Azure, AWS….have their device connected to the supply chain so that product can be delivered. They need manufacturing capabilities that can scale up and not just in one location but around the world.” 

Check out Matt's full interview with the Bandwidth team below;

We see this platform concept beginning to appear in Arrow’s IoT strategy with the recently announced Things eVolved offering. This is our perspective on the possibilities and future of IoT and the way we will connect customers to those possibilities from Design to Operate to Optimse to Restore and the way we position our sensor to sunset capabilities.  

Read the Things Evolved Whitepaper here.

Onwards to an IoT Future!

So, with Matt’s views and predictions ringing in the Bandwidth team’s ears as we were sat between Philae and the cloakroom, it certainly appears that Electronica was a further step towards the various Arrow businesses collaborating. Time will tell how we might come together to deliver new services, skills, knowledge and values in an ecosystem combining vendors and clients from across a multitude of specialisms, creating unique combinations of capabilities together that we can deliver from our burgeoning platform, in order to address the explosion of potential brought about by the 4th platform, this Internet of Things.

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