Challenges ahead

1 min read

The embedded systems consultancy ByteSnap Design has conducted research into what electronic design businesses expect to happen in the future and what their biggest concerns were.

The survey, which was carried out while the company was exhibiting and presenting at the Engineering Design Show (EDS) in October involved asking visitors what they felt their greatest challenges were going into 2020.

Executives and engineers provided some interesting insights into the constraints facing the industry today and going forward. Despite the survey taking place prior to the General Election being called, 20% of respondents said their biggest challenge was political uncertainty, especially Brexit. And, in the light of the on-going election, that’s a figure that is likely to have increased.

The survey found that 20% of those questioned felt that finding new business was a key concern; 18% that finding the right talent and skillsets was a challenge for their organisation; 18% cited meeting project lead times as critical, while 17% were concerned about obsolete technology.

Brexit was the biggest challenge, however, with the UK’s potential exit from the European Union having a host of implications for electronic design companies. Respondents were concerned about how the UK and European companies would continue to do business in the event of the UK leaving the EU. For example, there remains a high degree of ambiguity around tariffs and taxes, employment of European workers, grants and exemptions, and licensing and regulations, including the Radio Equipment Directive.

As a result of this many businesses are taking a “wait and see” approach, which would explain why investment decisions are being put on hold. Companies are unwilling to commit to new projects and award new contracts that may be impacted by Brexit.

In the worst cases, according to the survey, component buyers are already looking away from the UK and even Europe, to avoid having to change agreements in a post-Brexit future.

A sizeable number of respondents said that employing the right people was also a major challenge. By far the greatest concern out of various human resource challenges for the electronics sector is recruiting new hires. A lack of appropriate skills and an understanding of embedded technology was a big issue for the industry.

Respondents recognised that in Europe the electronics industry faces competition from both China and Eastern Europe, where both labour costs and sometimes components are cheaper.

But while Brexit is set to impact the electronics industry and skill shortages are likely to persist, the industry’s sales effort must go on.