"Engineers want the same experience on a website that they have with an account manager over the phone," says Tony Chien, VP and general manager, Electronic Commerce for Newark InOne. "They want more than just a standard catalog on-line," he told Design News at the recent Electronics Distribution Show and Conference in Las Vegas. "They want e-mail ship notes, product datasheets, and information on stock availability and lead times." To provide what engineers want, Chien says Newark InOne has invested heavily in really understanding their needs. Other distributors similarly are focusing their efforts on website design, including Allied Electronics, which invested $1 million in a content management system this year. And Digikey is close to completing development of a dynamically-driven product database for its website. Why the flurry of activity? Easy: According to several distributors, website orders account for only between 8 and 40% of all orders today and they'd like to see that number grow. A lot.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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