DIGI-KEY: Engaging with the Internet of Things

Bluetooth. The Cloud. M2M Connectivity. Unheard of a decade ago, these terms have become commonplace in today's increasingly connected, technology-focused society. New stats from Business Insider research related to mobile technology show that one in every five (22%) people in the world now own a smartphone. "Dumb phones" are quickly becoming ancient history, as consumers rely on their mobile devices for everything from checking email and conducting day-to-day business, to virtual comparison-shopping for a new car, to relaxing with the latest best-selling novel.

Using a phone solely for making calls is almost unheard of, as consumers can perform a growing number of tasks right from their phone. Whether this is starting their car on a cold day, setting their home security system alarm, or starting a load of laundry, innovation within the Internet of Things (IoT) is allowing a growing number of mundane, day-to-day tasks to be performed remotely. These developments have begun to radically transform products, channels, and company business models, creating opportunities for all types of organisations - OEMs, technology suppliers, system integrators, and global consultancies. There may be the opportunity to overturn established business models, with a view toward answering customer pain points and growing the market in segments that cannot be served economically with today's offerings. With such incredible growth and change, IoT solutions offer a virtual gold rush of opportunity for technological advancement and innovation, minus the hassle of uprooting their families, travelling back in time, and moving to California. Digi-Key has taken an active role in supporting this exploding market segment, both in offering the newest electronic components for immediate shipment, as well as a wealth of valuable resource materials, tutorials and 24/7 tech support. Moreover, while this may seem to necessitate a drastic change in mindset, this type of innovation and leading-edge support is commonplace for Digi-Key. A history of innovation Dr. Ron Stordahl founded Digi-Key with the goal of fostering innovation in product design by removing the largest obstacle for electronics enthusiasts building projects at home, that being the need to buy standard package sizes of components. These package sizes often contained thousands of parts, much too many for the home engineer needing a handful of integrated circuits or resistors. Over 40 years later, Digi-Key will still ship a handful of parts, as well as the full package size if desired, and over half a million customers take advantage of this unique, flexible distribution model annually. A foray into uncharted waters, Dr. Stordahl's idea has now become a $1.5 billion a year enterprise, supporting electronic designs through the entire process, from Prototype to Production. Building upon the solid foundation laid by Dr. Stordahl, Digi-Key continues to foster this environment of invention through strategic supplier relationships. Eyes on the IoT As the implementation of technology within the IoT continues its meteoric rise into the industry stratosphere, Digi-Key has developed strategic relationships with companies deeply rooted in M2M solutions and technology. Table 1 lists a selection of new suppliers offering a wide selection of IoT components and solutions. These up and coming suppliers provide tremendous value for Digi-Key customers in search of IoT solutions. "The Internet of Things has seen tremendous growth in recent years," said Mark Zack, Vice President, Global Semiconductor Product at Digi-Key. "This technology has made inroads into nearly all market segments, whether those applications reside in medical, industrial, military and aerospace or the commercial markets. IoT is seeing increased adoption and the sky is the limit for innovation within this growing technology space." Electronic component suppliers have taken notice of Digi-Key's non-traditional distribution model, and the number of new partnerships with these manufacturers is increasing at a historic rate. Digi-Key's breadth of product, Prototype to Production distribution model, and global customer base provide an ideal conduit for bringing these exciting IoT solutions to market and fostering innovation around the world. Zack continues: "Strategic partnerships with IoT-focused companies have a positive effect on numerous fronts. The supplier is able to leverage Digi-Key's expertise in bringing their product to the mass market, and Digi-Key's customers benefit by gaining access to the newest IoT products and technologies, in-stock and available for immediate shipment. This is an ideal fit for our continuing goal of providing the best service possible to our customers." As new technologies hit the market, and as IoT continues to become more prevalent in today's technology space, Digi-Key will remain vigilant in seeking out the newest, most exciting technologies and solutions, and give them a home among the over one million in-stock products currently residing on Digi-Key shelves. Going green Digi-Key Corporation has put into place a series of green initiatives including ISO 14001:2004 certification, environmentally friendly packaging, company-wide policies and best practices around reducing energy, waste, and paper usage, as well as increased recycling awareness. Digi-Key has started a successful e-scrap program that breaks down unsellable products for the reclamation of metals to be used in future parts. The company also requires their vendors to sign a waiver stating their compliance with all current waste-reduction practices. "Being a distributor of components and not a manufacturer is a relatively 'clean' business." said Teri Ivaniszyn, Vice President, Operational Excellence. "However, we are still committed to doing our part to make sure our practices and operations keep our community clean and beautiful." ISO 14001:2004 addresses various aspects of environmental management. It provides practical tools for companies and organizations looking to identify and control their environmental impact and constantly improve their environmental performance. Digi-Key started the new ISO process in August of 2012, passed a mandatory audit in March and received the official ISO 14001:2004 certificate in the middle of April 2014. In addition to achieving the new ISO 14001:2004 certification, some of Digi-Key's other green initiatives include: • Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant • Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) compliant • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified by downsizing shipping package sizes • Using Geami recycled packaging protection material • Encouraging employee recycling of plastic and aluminum • Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) member – committed to giving customers more information on recycling their Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), and Small Sealed Lead rechargeable batteries • Emissions code standard compliance to properly manage energy and power usage "Digi-Key's employees and environmental team put in a lot of effort and have been a real asset in receiving the ISO certification and reducing waste," noted Ivaniszyn. "In a rural area surrounded by clean air, trees, lakes and farmlands, having a small carbon footprint helps us focus on our important initiatives."