For Kontron, 2017 was a challenging but also exciting year of reorganization and realignment. We emerged strengthened from the merger with the S&T technology group. Necessary restructuring measures and cost optimizations have been successfully completed. Once again, we are on a quieter course and can focus on the opportunities that are looming in our industry for 2018 and onwards.
The Internet of Things (IoT) remains a dominant topic in the new year and continues to be regarded by analysts as a growth driver for the embedded market and manufacturing industry. Market researchers at Research and Markets, for example, expect the market for these embedded systems to grow by more than 4 percent annually and reach a total volume of more than 100 billion US dollars by 2023. At Kontron, we agree with this forecast. A more powerful generation of embedded computers, in combination with the corresponding embedded software, will have a lasting impact on production and manufacturing processes. Edge/fog computing is the interface between OT and IT. The importance of the edge computing market is also confirmed by forecasts by market analysts from Research and Markets, which estimate annual growth in this area to be 7 percent by 2022.
Edge Computing, as part of the Cloud, represents local intelligence at the production level and will help users create new real-time machine control scenarios. Other components of this solution are the software ecosystem and converged Ethernet based networks that allow parallel to the IT traffic also time synchronized, deterministic communication that is required for time critical machine control and processes. Open and global standards such as OPC UA and Time Sensitive Networking 802.1 TSN play a central role. In this environment, Kontron and S&T will concentrate even more on software and services than before.
Gartner sees IoT standards and ecosystems as important trends
According to Gartner, IoT standards and ecosystems are major trends that will accompany us in the coming years. Analysts believe that standards and related APIs are essential because IoT devices need to interoperate and communicate. In addition, many IoT business models are depending on multiple devices and organizations sharing data. According to market researchers, this will be particularly evident in areas such as smart home, smart city and healthcare.
At Kontron we see a trend towards smaller, faster and more robust embedded computers with scalable performance that enable us to bring "intelligence" into the production line. Powerful embedded servers will make it possible to control production in real time close to the machine. The corresponding software will also play a decisive role here.
The keyword "digitization" does not stop at manufacturing. But it is not enough to simply digitize existing processes. It is more important to optimize processes at the same time, to remain competitive in a global environment. In addition to economic efficiency and shortened time-to-market intervals, the main factors here are the consideration of individual customer requirements. This includes, for example, customizing, such as the efficient production of customer-specific small series.
No Industry 4.0 without Cloud Computing
After a somewhat bumpy start in recent years, Cloud computing has developed very dynamically. S&T and Kontron are already very active in this area, because we want to offer our customers comprehensive, secure and scalable Cloud solutions. This is underlined by our cooperation with Microsoft, one of the world's leading Cloud providers. As announced at the SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg in November 2017, many of our workstations and industrial computers are now certified for Microsoft Azure. Solutions that we can offer on the Cloud platform already cover a wide range of IoT applications and services. This includes device management, monitoring and provisioning, to name just a few examples. Customers can rely on Kontron's know-how and benefit from tailor-made solutions.
Cloud computing is playing an increasingly important role, because technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence will also tend to emerge from the Cloud and become an essential component of modern enterprise applications. This requires a high degree of flexibility from all those involved and means that companies must be able to scale quickly and flexibly from on-premise to the public Cloud, if required. This is the only way to calculate results in real time on site, control machines and virtualize processes. Thanks to our many years of experience, we are excellently positioned here and thus the competent partner at the side of our customers.
Under full sail in high-growth markets
Globalization is also a central topic for the S&T and Kontron Group, which will accompany us in the coming years. Against this background, the USA is and will remain an important market for us. Together with our partner Foxconn, we will also extend our activities in China - a market with great potential for our portfolio. As one of the leading providers of solutions for IoT and Industry 4.0, we see enormous growth opportunities for our group in the Asian market. Our excellent, high quality hardware as well as our extensive and individual software and consulting spectrum, will help us winning market shares.
With Kontron's hardware and middleware know-how, the software and consulting expertise of S&T and partners such as Foxconn and major Cloud providers, we are very well positioned for growth in all key markets. Kontron is ideally positioned to lead the way in digitization and transformation towards IoT and Industry 4.0 for companies in all industries.
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