There’s one big issue that no one addressed directly.
I attended the Cadence CDNLive conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center on April 5 and 6 and had a chance to listen to four very thought-provoking presentations given by the speakers. These presentations were combined to follow the keynote address given by Cadence CEO, Lip-Bu Tan and addressed several different aspects of the current semiconductor industry landscape.
Each presenter outlined areas that are poised to have a significant impact on our society or industry going forward:
There were several common elements that linked the presentations by the different speakers:
These are great points and identify real trends that we should all consider in our strategic planning. The three companies that spoke during the keynote presentation are representative of the drive and vision that typifies companies in the semiconductor industry.
However, it seems to me that the speakers talked around one issue that may be bigger than all the rest when considering the ‘Big Data’ wave and its attendant impacts on our culture and society – how to manage it all?
If, as people expect, the average user or business manager accepts the premise of connecting all the processes in their home or business with the intent of sending that data to some location to be collected and analyzed, allowing that person to reap the benefit of more information to make a better decision about some aspect of their personal existence, then it seems like there is an opportunity for a unique product to enter the marketplace.
This product would take the form of an intermediary to stand between the user and the tide of analyzed data that is about to flood into their lives. This could take many forms, a personal digital advocate, a butler, a confidant, a mentor, a watchdog: something to help the average person manage it all and to make sense of it all. For lack of a better name, it could be called a Personal Intelligent Intermediary Agent.
What would this product do? Simply stated, it would know/remember/be a repository for all the personal configuration details of the myriad user interfaces for all the IoT/automotive/medical/mobile/networking/security/software products and services that will come with the ‘Big Data’ wave. It could be configured to manage all the passwords all these services will require and could even make suggestions on how to better protect the data it manages. It would not only be a library of all the user manuals that are going to come with all these things, but it would also understand how changes to one series of configuration variables will impact the operation/functionality of other services and products the user might have. Finally, it would have a capability that would advise the user about different pending events in their lives that could be important – a change in the weather forecast that could impact the thermostat settings/natural gas usage, when is the best time of the day to do laundry to take advantage of lower electricity rates, and a whole host of other ‘mundane’ decision points that we face each day that can now be made more intelligently because we will have the actual data about each action and its overall impact. This is the result of having processes/actions that can be connected together and how the end results will be magnified in our lives.
While the processing power and software expertise required for something like this is probably beyond the industry today, it won’t be too long before we can come close to a point where this becomes feasible. At that point the semiconductor and computer industries can generate a great deal of additional interest in the industry by creating a product that literally everyone on the planet will want. The revenue potential will be very large to say the least.
This might all sound very ‘science-fictionesque,’ and you would be right to think so – if this were 20 or 30 years ago. We are on the verge of connecting most of the devices on this planet together and that was certainly science fiction 20 years ago. Now, once we have gone through the connection phase, we need to take the last step and enter the ‘manage-it-all-efficiently’ phase. There are great times ahead for the EDA, semiconductor, computer, and software industries if we can translate these visions into reality. If there is one group of industries in our world that is up for a challenge like this, it is our industries!