Emmanuel Sabonnadière, CEO of CEA-Leti: Across all business and tech sectors, 2021 probably will be remembered for a return to some semblance of stability after the pandemic’s disruption of our normal lives. In time, the vaccines’ arrival will allow some people to return to their workplaces and we will start traveling and socializing publicly again. This will provide a needed boost to the global economy. But 2021 also may be remembered for its accelerated transition to a digital workplace, which began in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Digital technology has shown its full potential to both simplify and amplify communication in science, business, and government via video calls, webinars, and virtual events. Overall, we probably gained three to five years in terms of the adoption of and migration to this new normal in 2020.
Scott Rust, BS EE, Senior VP of Product R&D at NI: Zoom security issues were a notable software failure in 2020. With COVID-19 and increased remote work, we all had to rely on video conferencing for work and personal integrations. Zoom showed the importance of getting security right with the many “zoom-bombing” incidence that made headlines.
Chris Rowen, Ph.D. EE, VP, Engineering, Voice Technology at Cisco: The evolution of engineering work in the COVID and post-COVID world:
-- We will start to go back to the office, perhaps around mid-year, but we will never go back to work exactly as we did before. Having figured out video conferencing, group chat tools, document sharing, and better global engineering methodologies, we will work to find the best of both worlds. We will see more domain-specific engineering workflows that combine our favorite technical tools and our favorite communications methods targeting specific engineering populations.
-- The desire to avoid bad commutes (plus the full recognition that you can still be judged to work hard even if you’re not physically in the office) will make more flexible hours the norm. Increasingly we will go into the office either for the social dimension of work or because of specific resources, rather than as a daily habit.
-- We will continue to talk a lot of AR and VR for enhanced engineering workflows, but these too will evolve slowly. Massively distributed simulation and verification will be a significant trend.
-- I expect continued tension between edge computing usage collection (to get the key statistics to allow improved user experiences) and data privacy. Privacy regulation will continue to expand, creating both new headaches and new market niches ripe for innovation.
Florence Verzelen, Executive VP at Dassault Systèmes: To maintain your financial health in 2021, you should as much as possible push sales, marketing, and even product development online. COVID has proven that sales can continue online. In Italy, in March 2020 – one of the deadline months for COVID illnesses in that country - online sales increased by 80%. This is one of the major ways to adapt marketing and sales during the era of COVID-19, which is a critical action for businesses to be successful in the post-COVID supply chain.
Ted Karlin of Chirp Microsystems, TDK Corporation of America: With the arrival of IoT, connecting everything to the internet, brings the ability to add tremendous intelligence to everything in our homes and buildings, truly turning our homes and buildings into smart homes and smart buildings. With all the different devices you have in your home, the trend will be to add intelligence to devices with purpose. Whether the device will collect some sort of data or conduct measurements the connecting of the devices in the smart home and smart building must add value to the end-user and therefore will rely on sensors that conduct these measurements in a very economical and robust way. Adding intelligence to all these homes and building devices places a tremendous emphasis that these sensors must be always-on low power, robust over extreme environments, be a compact form factor to easily be concealed, and provide high accuracy real-time measurements. These sensors' critical importance will continue to grow as the sensor is what makes the device smart and therefore make the home and building smart.
Sameer Wasson, Vice President, and Business Unit Manager, Processors at Texas Instruments - I see next year being a year of practical innovation. We may see companies approach their 2021 strategies differ in terms of gaining efficiencies in product development and accelerate innovation through that. Across automotive and industrial, the software will likely continue growing in importance. If companies can use the same software across their hardware, applications, and systems, it can help maximize their software investment and reduce costs. This concept gives automotive OEMs, for example, the ability to design software once and utilize it across their entry- to high-end vehicles. Machine learning is another technology poised to make an impact. By implementing even, a relatively small amount of machine learning at the edge, customers can find new cost efficiencies within their systems and enhance intelligence at the same time.
Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Principal at NorthBridge Energy Partners: Here are three trends to watch for in the energy space in 2021:
1) There will be more news on solid-state batteries, as well as more robust lithium-based battery tech capable of many more charges and longer lives.
2) We’ll see the first real evidence that vehicle-to-grid is both real and financially valuable, which will accelerate the growth of EVs and the mash-up of transportation and power
3) first real projects related to virtual power plants of any real size, with hundreds or thousands of sites and devices being aggregated and selling services, both here in the US as well as Europe and Australia (where rooftop solar is off the charts and batteries are following).
Richard Wawrzyniak, Principal Market Analyst, Semico Research Corp: One area of importance in the search for a next-generation embedded memory replacement has become the ability to create a technology that does not introduce new materials into the manufacturing flow. While not a hard requirement, silicon foundries, and their customers are reticent to embrace these new materials unless absolutely necessary. Concerns over cross-contamination in the fabs and the lack of years of testing and reliability data fuel this reticence. So, a new memory architecture that uses materials already in use has an advantage over other, more exotic, approaches. Several of the companies listed above have taken this track and are in the process in 2021 of running test chips and collecting testing and reliability data today.
Omdia - Under the rubric of the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprise AI practitioners are turning their attention away from speculative projects to instead focus on more tactical concerns that promise corporate stability and agility. Projects without a clear and immediate ROI will be put on temporary hold, with new projects capable of driving value across disparate departments and use cases will take precedence.