Archive for the ‘Market Intelligence’ Category

The Future of the Medical Device Industry

What the Medical Device Internet of Things (IoT) means to Device Manufacturers and Embedded Vendors

 

Prologue

The key to expansion of the embedded marketplace is predicated on the ability to grow the user base increasing demand. The potential seems clearer if we are able to “follow the money” – that is to understand who is going to make money, who is going to make the necessary investments, and what financial benefits will accrue to the user (purchaser). We then can look at what embedded vendors can do to enhance their position and capture a larger share of the growth.

 

Let’s begin with the medical device marketplace as an example. Currently it addresses a limited user base. The first considerations are that one needs to be sick to use currently available technologies and that patient monitoring devices today are reusable. The best way to expand the marketplace is to develop a self-funding and user beneficial way to address the large population of walking well users. This we will cover in this paper.

 

For those that prefer to read that last pages of a book in order to save time, we can preview who we expect to be the winners (and why). Don’t forget to follow the money.

 

Expected winners:

 

Operating Systems

  • ThreadX
  • Nucleus
  • Commercial Linux

 

IDEs

  • Green Hills
  • LynuxWorks
  • Wind River
  • Microsoft
  • Eclipse users

 

Communication Middleware

  • DDS (Realtime Innovations – RTI)
  • Cisco

 

Modeling:

  • IBM Rational
  • MathWorks
  • PTC (Atego)

 

Big Data Providers:

  • Amazon
  • Yahoo
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Hadoop providers

 

Component providers (enhanced if combined with OSes and modeling):

 

Wireless

  • Clarinox (efficient and comprehensive Bluetooth, WiFi and Zigbee). Already partnered with ThreadX and LynuxWorks

 

Interconnect technologies

USB

  • MCCI – partnered with LynuxWorks

TCP/IP

 

Storage

  • Datalight

 

For example, let’s address how the IoT can expand the medical device marketplace. And why some vendors are in a better position than others. Behind many of our assumptions are the thousands of detailed survey responses from embedded developers. One can see how our data is gathered and analyzed by visiting www.embeddedforecast.com.

 

Overview

 

A significant growth in the medical device marketplace can be realized by expanding the medical device user base from the limited number of patients sick enough to require monitoring to tens of millions of individuals that can benefit from preventative support and ongoing monitoring of treatments (e.g., diabetics, high blood pressure, senior citizens, etc.). This will create a market for millions of new devices, expanded networks, large storage systems and Big Data capabilities.

 

If this seems too ambitious an assumption, one might consider the forecasts by Cisco who is predicting that there will be 50 billion “things” connected to communications networks within six years, up from around 10 billion mobile phones and PCs today. We maintain that one needs to consider how these “things” can be commercially monetized for them to become a reality. Just because they can doesn’t mean that they will.

 

The technology for the new medical device marketplace is already developed and ready to be integrated into the new ecosystem. What remains to be done, and it appears inevitable that it will be done, is to bring the necessary parties into agreement as to the financial incentives for each participant.

 

Insurance Companies, Hospitals/HMO’s and governments (worldwide) need to become willing participants in purchasing and using patient information to determine “best outcomes” based on data from millions of patients undergoing various treatments for the same diagnosis. From these data, insurance companies and hospitals, for example, can reduce costs and provide better care for patients.

 

The upside implications for embedded developers is significant. Profound economic conditions spawn profound opportunities and challenges. As in any economic contest, there will be winners, losers and those that can’t tell the difference. Market uncertainties challenge vendors and OEMs alike to find new niches, competitive advantages and markets that will remain stable while enjoying growth potential.

 

Successful embedded vendors will be those that respond to evidence-based research that define the new marketplace. Those that continue to believe that their products represent the solutions to medical monitoring and patient care will continue to lose money and remain non-competitive. Strangely, more than a couple of vendors believe that the mission critical nature of their products is in alignment with medical device requirements. Nanosecond response times and Common Criteria standards are not necessary for physiological monitoring wherein the highest required frequency response is 100 Hz and patent safety can be guaranteed by fail safe alarm designs. Many RTOS vendors have spent millions of dollars chasing a market that doesn’t exist. Medical device developers are laughing at the audacity of those that try to sell their inappropriate solutions.

 

EMF, believes, based on thousands of developer responses to detailed surveys that vendors that provide integrated solutions to device developers and managers will benefit from the coming growth in product deployments. RTOS vendors, for example, that have integrated wireless protocols (Bluetooth and WiFi) USB and storage capability support into their OS will find a more receptive user base than the large vendors that believe that they can force their solutions on medical device developers.

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Innovative Wireless Applications that will become an Essential part of IoT

 

At the beginning of the auto age, market research indicated that the market for horse-drawn carriages was much larger than for autos. Communications vendors should avoid looking in the rear view mirror of market research and concentrate on where new markets, new opportunities and new competitive communication battlegrounds will appear. We are in an age of unlimited bandwidth and enhanced connectivity – the new marketplace will revolve around those technologies that waste bandwidth to achieve comprehensive connectivity (handhelds to enterprise to Internet access, etc.) – not to those technologies that foster yesterday’s packet switching SS7 infrastructure.

 

Central to these opportunities are wireless protocols that can be effectively and easily integrated into embedded developments.

 

EMF believes that we are in the cusp of a radical change in the world of technology that will have distinct consequences for embedded vendors. Today’s hand held devices have more compute power than large computer systems of a decade or two ago. We have already deployed a network protocol that allows easy scaling among users. Big data has been in place for a long time – remember scanning your grocery card for discounts? Modeling has been around for more than a decade and allows for effective maintenance, and makes easy software and hardware upgrades without losing tested and deployed software apps.

 

There is the uneasy feeling among some that this is all going to come together somehow and we need to be ready for the both the opportunity as well as the threat.

 

Wireless technologies are central to future communications development – and in particular to the Internet of Things (IoT). That said, wireless providers that have evolved innovative applications that help developer and development teams to cost effectively design and deploy wireless-based devices will prosper at expense of those that don’t. In addition, OS vendors that don’t provide an integrated OS-wireless capability will lose market share to those that make it easier for developers to integrate wireless capabilities into the design process.

 

EMF usually doesn’t endorse any product, however the uniqueness of the following Clarinox and Texas Instruments wireless offering deserves a “call out” with the hope that he industry will see more such offerings hat support embedded development.

 

Clarinox Technologies, a leading provider of wireless protocol stack software has risen to the challenge by providing Clarinox™Blue Smart Ready protocol stack on the Texas Instruments (TI) WiLink™ 8 platform for the recently announced SMART kapp digital capture board. Unveiled at InfoComm 2014, SMART kapp allows users to write, draw, diagram and brainstorm using an ink marker, just as they would with a dry-erase board. But with SMART kapp, co-workers and clients can follow the process in real-time, where everything written on the capture board appears as if by magic on their digital devices. The work is simply saved with SMART’s advanced software and then as a final product as PDFs or JPEGs and then easily shared with anyone, anywhere, instantly.

 

For the project ClarinoxBlue is integrated on the WiLink™ 8 Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth combo connectivity solution with SYS-BIOS and TMS320C6748. Additionally, the Clarinox built-in Bluetooth protocol analyzer provides enhanced visibility and faster debugging.

 

Using “Little Data” to Gain a Competitive Advantage in Cost Controls, Marketing, Sales and Product Development

How Developers, Managers, CFOs, and Sale and Marketing Executives can Affordably Determine Competitive Advantages from the background Noise of Claims, Counter Claims and FUD

Introduction

 

We are all becoming familiar with the concept of “Big Data”. We already have experienced the intrusiveness of “data mining” be it from the grocery store that sends out targeted coupons, or other sources that seem to know more about us than we might want.

 

“Little Data” concerns the plethora of information existing and transmitted throughout the embedded industry. If surveyed properly, we can learn a lot of what developers are doing, using, liking, disliking, where they are located, what tools, chips, OSes, etc. they are using, and what their experiences – good and bad – have been. When combined into a tool we call the EMF Executive Dashboard, this information can be efficiently mined to determine many interesting aspects of the embedded marketplace, including comparative costs of development between operating systems (including a comparative analysis of the costs of using open source software and free Linux compared with commercial OSes) and determining whether modeling offers a cost savings as compared with similar developments that don’t use modeling..

 

Pick up any journal or read any “market research” paper and one can be left wondering. Is Open Source software really “free”? Is it better than commercial RTOSes? Does free Linux offer a cost savings over commercial Linux software or commercial RTOSes?

 

How does a senior financial manager or development manager gain insights into cost savings or better design outcomes? How is development cost measured?

By upfront cost of tools and software? Or can it be measured by total cost of development, cost of late delivery, time-to-market – or by other measures?

 

Who can managers and executives trust? Can a market research director who has never managed a real P&L or met a payroll really offer value and insights based on internal surveys and personal interpretations? What is the real cost of knowledge and is it of value?

 

Is there a tool that would enables managers or financial executives to look at the marketplace from their personal perspectives – or must they dependent on the graphs and tables published (or purchased) by journals or market research organizations? Moreover, the real issue is whether these managers or executives can test their vision of corporate reality against the underlying reality of the embedded marketplace.

 

The answer is YES and we will illustrate how it works.

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ATEGO REDUX: ATEGO COMES OF AGE

Ignoring important business information in order to
save money is like saving up sex for your old age. What we learn from history
is that people don’t learn from history – Warren Buffet

 

Despite a plethora of negative publicity and bad relationships with the industry’s press, analysts and other vendors, Atego, due to the efforts of Dr Jay Gambrell its founding chairman,
has reorganized its management problems and proven that it is financially sound and technologically competitive. During these difficult times, the company has kept pace with the quality of its MDD (model driven development) products and has remained a leader in the Ada market space.

Let me state as a matter of full disclosure that I have in the past been a not-to-polite critic of Atego and its management. Hence it is only fair that I report on the positive changes that have occurred and address the topic that I previously found to be of concern.

A company is judged by factors not necessarily related to product offerings and quality. It is incumbent that a company maintains positive relations with the press and industry analysts. With all the changes at the company, it might be construed that the company is failing and it’s best to avoid dealing with it. It takes a strong executive, once having been made aware, to ensure that changes are made.

To summarize:

1) MDD developments have been shown to reduce development cost (as compared with similar
developments that didn’t use MDD) by more than 30%

2) Artisan Studio users enjoyed similar results that are comparable to IBM’s Rhapsody product

3) Atego has made management changes and placed an emphasis on positive relationships within the
industry.

4) Atego has reorganized their marketing efforts freeing up their staff to better interact
with customers as well as with vendors and the press.

5) Atego bought IBM Rational’s Ada product line to consolidate their marketing and sales efforts in this market
segment. Atego inherited Rational’s Ada customers, many of whom remain IBM customers for other products.

Let me address the rumors that Atego is financially vulnerable. Let’s face it – I’m capable of reading abalance sheet, but not sufficiently sophisticated to be able to detect financial slight of hand. While Atego now boasts a much larger balance sheet and revenue and profit line, I still believe when  it comes to ascertaining Atego’s financial well being I rely on IBM Rational, one of the best managed companies in the world.

For IBM to entrust Atego with their customer base that not only used their Ada products but many of the other IBM products as well, they certainly did a detailed and exhaustive analysis of Atego and their long term viability. For me, that is the most compelling reason to dispel any rumors of financial instability. And they did this in spite of the fact that Atego’s biggest competitor for modeling is IBM!

Let me point out that financial strength and operating profitability are different. Atego remains profitable, but their activities and expenditures are closely watched, as they should be in a responsibly managed company. Atego claims to be the largest independent embedded tools provider – a reputation they will have to earn again and again every day.

I find Gambrell, who has an extensive banking background, to be a most responsible executive – which also gives me confidence in Atego’s future.

As a former Executive VP of a public medical devices company, I have personally encountered problems with recalcitrant managers that tried to build personal empires at the expense of the company that paid their salaries. I was fortunate to have had feedback from our marketplace from individuals who were so incensed at their treatment that they took the effort to complain (loudly and without limiting their use of language for emphasis) to me personally. Some might consider these folks to have a pathological need to bitch – for me they were a godsend that enabled me to correct problems that could have adversely impacted our emerging company.

So it is in my business DNA to offer unsolicited (and perhaps unwanted) information. It is to Gambrell’s credit that he didn’t dismiss the bad news as being from a pain in the butt.

I did tell Jay that I’ll have to find a new target for my somewhat slanted sense of humor – but that I’m delighted for his success. Now I can focus my efforts on delving into the more recent and promised product offerings coming from Atego. There are several promising process related tools coming, so let’s see what a renewed focus from Atego will deliver. This will not keep me from being a critic if I see fit – but I’m excited for the industry that an alternative modeling compny has come of age

For those that might remember my comment that “the wheel is spinning but the gerbil is dead”, I’m glad toreport that the gerbil is doing fine.

 

What Medical Device Embedded Developers and Vendors Need to Know About Obamacare

Medical device companies and embedded vendors that sell to this market segment are facing, depending on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, a huge downturn in this market segment. Unless Romney is elected president and the Republicans get control of the senate, the provision of the Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) tax on medical device manufactures will have significant repercussions. It is ulikely that this tax will be overturned if the current makeup of congress and the white house remains in 2013.

Especially hard hit could be the hundreds of small companies developing medical software applications. Many of these apps can significantly impact and enhance the practice of medicine. The IRS is deciding now whether to treat apps as medical devices subject to the tax – somehow I don’t find comfort in the potential outcome.

As a result of the looming device tax, many medical manufacturer companies are moving production overseas, good jobs are going to Europe and Asia, and many cutting-edge medical devices will now be produced elsewhere for import into the U.S. It would be irresponsible for CEOs to wait until after the election and the seating of the new congress to not take appropriate actions to protect their company.

Therefore the impact of the Obamacare tax may cause irreparable disruptions. Embedded vendors will need to re-strategize their sales efforts and offerings to the medical device segment. Vendors will need to show:

  • That the use of their tools, operating systems, processors, etc. will result in a lower development cost (data based)
  • That these will result in products being shipped earlier meeting targeted windows of opportunity (again supported by data)
  • That such tools, OSes, etc., will be reusable for future designs and developments

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Ada Developers Rejoice: IBM and Atego Play “Let’s Make a Deal”

For some reason people take their cues from price action rather than from values. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get – Warren Buffet

We have a condo in the New Hampshire Mountains on a beautiful lake. The town of 2000 inhabitants swells to 12,000 in the summer – and every weekend brings forth a litany of “yard sales” and “flea markets”. It’s fun and instructive to see so many folks seeking “hidden treasure” out of what is another persons  “junk”.

Watching these events brings to mind how some embedded companies seek out such “treasure” by acquiring someone else’s problems. As Warren Buffet wrote, “given a lot of inside information and a million dollars, a company can go broke in a year”.

On occasion a deal gets put together that actually (surprise and shock) makes sense and is beneficial to all involved. In this case, IBM, Atego and, most important, Ada developers each come away with something special.

Atego has entered into an agreement with International Business Machines Corporation to acquire the IBM Rational Apex® Ada Developer product family, including the IBM Rational Apex integrated development environment.  Under the terms of the agreement, Atego will acquire the Rational Ada Developer product line, including all products and intellectual property.  The IBM development and support staff responsible for IBM Rational Ada Developer will join Atego. The acquisition will see all of the IBM Rational Ada Developer employees integrated into Atego’s global business operations.  Atego will rebrand the product family to’ Atego ApexAda Developer’ and the core IDE product ‘Rational Apex’ to ‘Atego Apex’.

Let’s take a closer look at the deal. IBM Rational has over the years made significant acquisitions in order to create a one-stop total design and operational capability to their customers. Going beyond their model-driven development (MDD) capabilities and integrating in quality controls, the Jazz worldwide cooperative development platform, as well as business metrics, and validation/verification and integrated change and requirements management solutions, Rational has uniquely positioned themselves for the high end, high gross margin business software market.

Ada solutions to IBM represent a small return on investment and a smaller revenue stream to the overall direction of the company.

Atego, however, has an MDD capability but is more focused on the embedded world across many verticals. For some of these markets, Ada use remains an important endeavor and developers that use Ada are better served by an organization that can better focus on their needs.

In a recent 2012 EMF survey of embedded developers, 8.6% of respondents indicated that they use Ada in their developments (a sizable market). 76% of these respondents indicated that they build on legacy code while 20% indicated that they bring forth legacy code. Interestingly, only 4% of respondents state that their new applications are NOT dependent on legacy Ada applications.

When asked what was the most important factors in making the decision to use Ada, 20% each replied “availability of open source objects” and “improved use of existing software” while 16% responded “easier integration of independently developed software components”.

This market intelligence data strongly supports the market potential for the Atego acquired technology. Remembering the opening Buffet quote, this is the “Value” that Atego acquired – although the “Price” was not mentioned.

Many embedded acquisitions are predicated on price – whereas strategic value is often overlooked.

In EMF’s opinion, every stake holder came out a winner. It’s nice to see that happen in this case.

What We Need is another Sputnik

On a personal note, it was in October 1957 that the world awoke to the beep-beep sounds of the Russian launched Sputnik satellite. And the race was on.

I was a first semester freshman EE student at Washington University (St. Louis) – and we were abuzz with the implications. I was too young to understand my good fortune in choosing EE over Chemical Engineering – but it was an exciting time.

In April 1961 The Russians launched Yuri Gagarin and his Vostok 1 spacecraft into orbit making him the first human in space (Alan Shepard was to fly in March 1961 but his flight was put off until May 5, 1961).

Jack Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election in a close finish over Richard Nixon (thanks to a 120% voter turn out in Chicago – and Nixon refusing to challenge that vote). President Kennedy challenged us to “put a man on the moon within the decade”. The technologies to make this happen hadn’t been invented yet, and the collateral off shoots of the space program made possible microprocessors, advance medical devices, enhanced communication systems. For the billions the government invested in the Program, the payback was measured in the trillions of dollars that accrued to our economy not to mention the giant leap in our life styles that this technology afforded us.

So how did Kennedy, the supposed liberal, pay for this? He lowered taxes and encouraged and supported private businesses which resulted in enhanced revenues for the US Treasury. This will probably come as a shock to most progressives today – particularly those that loved Jack Kennedy (maybe they got confused with the actions of his brother Teddy). Lower taxes and eliminating unreasonable restrictions on small business resulted in a large increase in US revenues.

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Beware of Chip Companies Bearing False Gifts

Back in the mid 1960’s American Airlines ran a very successful ad program (the ad was “Take me along if you Love me”) in which business travelers were allowed to bring their wives along on their business trip – at no additional cost.

Thousands of business travelers took advantage of the offer and sales soared. Leave it to some marketing moron to contact the traveling “wives” and ask them how they enjoyed their trip. Seems that many of the “take me alongers” were not the wives but someone else.

Hundreds of divorces ensued and the airline was sued by many and sales took a turn for the worse.

Fast forward to 2011 and it seems that the grandsons/granddaughters of those hapless AA marketing mavens might now be working for Freescale.

Freescale is giving away free the MQX operating system – but is Freescale helping or handicapping their customers?

In a recent EMF survey of 660 embedded developers, we were able to compare design outcomes among all of the major operating systems (using our unique Dashboard tool – see video).

Citing just a few highlights,

  ThreadX Micrium VxWorks MQX
         
Time from design start to shipment (months) 10.5 11.3 16.3 15.8
         
Percent of Designs completed Behind Schedule 29.8% 40.0% 51.1% 56.6%

 

So we are left wondering whether Freescale realizes what they are doing to their customers – and whether the grandsons/granddaughters of American Airlines marketers can find a place where their efforts can’t do any more harm. The Obama administration comes to mind.

Percent of Hardware Budget Devoted to COTS Hardware

 

Considerable attention and speculation has been given to the use of COTS hardware across different vertical markets, and whether this trend is expanding, remaining stable or declining. If the use of COTS is expanding, one would expect to see an economic benefit to its use – hence, a more important measure of COTS utilization would be reflected in the budgeted amount of COTS hardware as a percentage of total hardware cost.

In a recent 2011 survey of embedded developers (653 respondents), EMF asked respondents to report the percent of their total hardware budget that was devoted to COTS hardware.

Table I presents their responses according to vertical market. Whereas Aerospace/Avionics and Military had the highest response (these data reflect the percent of the COTS hardware budget compared with total hardware budget) Datacom and Electronic Instrumentation had a better than average response.

Percent of Hardware Budget Devoted to COTS Hardware
2011 EMF Survey of Embedded Developers
   
Industry Average 23%
Auto-Transportation 19%
Aerospace-Avionics 30%
Consumer Electronics 22%
Datacom-Networking 27%
Electronic Instrumentation 24%
Industrial Automation 20%
Medical 20%
Military 32%
Office Automation 14%
Telecom 23%

                   Table I

Table II presents developer responses according to chip architecture.

It is interesting to note that the budgeted percent of COTS hardware is consistent across all architectures, DSP and FPGA, but it is significantly larger for dual core and multi core developments. This might be due to the recent inclusion of multiple cores in embedded developments where the focus might be on software development within a mostly reusable hardware configuration. It will be interesting to see if this data is repeated in 2012.

 

 

Percent of Hardware Budget Devoted to COTS Hardware
2011 EMF Survey of Embedded Developers
   
Industry Average 23%
8-bit 21%
16-bit 22%
32-bit 24%
64-bit 23%
128-bit 26%
DSP 23%
FPGA 21%
Dual Core 28%
Multi-Core 35%

                             Table II

Information regarding the survey and data can be found at

www.embeddedforecast.com.

Survey data and the use of the EMF Embedded Dashboard used to compute these data can be seen at:

http://www.embeddedforecast.com/emfmip_videos.php

Give me some of That UK Venture Capital – They must be throwing it away

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut – Warren Buffet

The giggles keep coming – Atego has purchased another company (albeit a competent one – notwithstanding a questionable fit). This time it was Hi Rely, a service company that actually knows what its doing – although at a premium price.

I guess that in Jay Gambrel’s “Alice in Wonderland” dreams he believes that he’s going to match IBM’s 35,000 person service capabilities. Jay once told me that he’s a banker and that he doesn’t have to understand how the embedded world works.

I’ve known Vance Hildebrand for a long time – and I have previously recommended him and his organization. At least Hi Rely offers a useful service and has good people – good offerings and good people, however, do not necessarily create a positive and revenue producing combination. Time will tell.

Knowing Vance as a friend and colleague, I asked him why he sold to Atego – going in my mind from Upper East Side to downtown Newark. I asked if  a) he’s in trouble with his bookie, or, b) grandma needed implants to get her job back at Hooters. For the record, Vance loved my email to him and told me that he passed wine through his nose while laughing so hard. He offered to explain his willingness to be bought out by Atego after the May ESC conference. Vance has not responded to my emails since the wine-nose incident and we are on the lookout for a much too happy guy. Vance was paid in dollars (or Euros) and not in Atego stock – I told you that he is competent.

So Jay, please tell us who these more than generous VC folks are so that companies with good prospects and poor financial positions can gain access.

Jay, as a gesture of good will from this side of the puddle – and hoping that I can throw a bone to your financial backers, I’d like to introduce you to Gregg Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri.

So let me posit the following question: What differentiates the Atego acquisition strategy from Mr. Miller’s business? The answer is that neither seem to make sense – BUT Mr. Miller has made $20 million with his product he calls “Neuticles”.

Mr. Miller felt strongly that post-neutered dogs were too ashamed to show their face (or southern exposure) to other dogs, so he created fake testicles (Neuticles) that he sells for $100 a pair (not including surgery). To date he has sold over 250,000 Neuticles. Truth be told, I have a distant cousin who had Pekinese-sized Neuticles implanted in her Great Dane (we suspect nothing sinister) . The dog probably had emotional problem to begin with.

I guess that Neuticles is an easier sell than realtime Java

So Jay, don’t give up – if Mr. Miller can find gold with his “not of this planet” inspiration, so can you. Rumor has it that there is an embedded Unix company for sale.