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IoT: no more silos

  • 2 minute read
  • Published by Dr. Abhaya Sumanasena on 27 Apr 2018
  • Last modified 17 May 2018
The combination of 5G and edge computing will enable new or enhanced use cases such as interactive advertising or vehicle safety. It will also enable some companies to think beyond their traditional business models and reinvent themselves. That has at least been the theory for some while. However, it is one that is being proved in the real world long before wide scale 5G roll-out has even happened.

Electronics manufacturing is a good example of an industry whose leading lights are dramatically changing their approach, helped along by 5G. The most famous instance is Foxconn, which is spreading its wings by moving into own-brand devices for consumers and the IoT, mobile services provision and even content. Closer to home, the UK’s Flex, formerly Flextronics, is undergoing a major strategic transition, from manufacturer to design partner for many of the world’s largest technology brands.

This is heavily focused on the IoT, and the era when virtually every type of object will be wirelessly connected. That means Flex’s customers will have to design a far wider variety of electronics products, and need more than just a manufacturing partner.  In a recent interview with Rethink Technology Research, Kevin Kettler, Flex’s CTO and SVP for communications and enterprise compute, explained the company’s evolution.

Developing all manner of electronics, from industrial equipment for electrical grids, to consumer electronics, healthcare devices, and also automotive, Flex is aiming for a bigger slice of the pie in all those sectors, and expects the momentum to increase with 5G.

An important transition that companies need to make to take advantage of 5G, Kettler believes, is to get away from siloed thinking and allow experiences from different products and vertical sectors to cross-pollinate. In the wireless IoT, there will be increasing overlap between different industries’ processes and technologies, so that products and use cases devised for one sector can be adapted for another, improving scalability and leading to a unified connectivity and software base.

There are, inevitably, a number of connectivity options to take into account – and a number of challenges to overcome in order to make this vision real, as this news item, which examines Flex’s plans in more detail, explains.