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Avnet Talks Innovation Priorities and the Future of IIoT


As part of our series “Five Questions with,” Sunny Trinh, VP of Demand Creation and Cool Stuff at Avnet, discusses biggest IIoT trends and how the mHUB Accelerator aligns with Avnet's mission as an organization.

1. What are the types of technology that Avnet is personally interested in?

Mainly disruptive technologies that will help to make the world better. It's just simple as that, which in turn makes it very broad. It’s technologies that allow us to do things smarter, faster, cheaper, and if it can save the world, even better.

2. Why does Avnet work with early-stage startups?

Avnet will be a hundred-years-old next year and we have over two million customers. You see a lot of things. So, we feel that we can help every startup in filling gaps and doing that significantly increases their chance of success. So it becomes a win-win because that's one of the challenge with a startup. I've been there. I've been at multiple startups; I had my own startups. You have very limited resources, limited time, and you can't do everything. 

Having a partner like the size of an Avnet allows you to really focus on your core competence and then let the partner really fill in all the other gaps. This is why we want to help these startups because it goes back to the types of technologies that we're interested in, too, because we're helping these technologies get to fruition because really, you never know when you'll run into the next disruptive technology. We want to give all these companies every opportunity to succeed.

3. What are the biggest trends you see in IIoT over the next 5-10 years? 

Every industry right now, and I mean every industry, whether it is technology or not, they're trying to do things smarter. So you hear about AI and things like that. Everyone is collecting lots of data, figuring out which of that data is relevant and then being able to do something with it. So that's a huge trend right now. A lot of it is industrial IOT, but it can apply to anything. We're dealing with everything from dairy farms and cattle to agriculture, to hospitality, you name it. Especially right now with pharma and COVID-19 vaccines getting released, we're doing all of that as well.

The piece that allows you to figure all this data the fastest, most secure, and least expensive, that's going to be the biggest trend, and companies that do that will become the next biggest names. Some examples like I mentioned, they're AI, edge computing, and blockchain.

AI allows you to make use of that data, and really be smart about it. Edge computing allows you to do it faster and less expensively because you don't have to send everything to the cloud. But for me, I think the biggest trend's going to be blockchain, because it really provides the most secure and organized way to manage that data. Security is becoming such a huge concern because you hear about companies and their data getting breached all the time. 

Also, what blockchain does is it allows this data to be interoperable between companies, between organizations and between geographical boundaries, like countries and so forth. Because with a really good blockchain solution, you can pick and choose whatever data is sent back and forth and still hold on to your own privacy, where if you're working with a database, you're sending everything. Then also security-wise, it is the most secure platform to use, is a blockchain because you can't just go capture one central or a breach one central server and get access to everything.

4. What are Avnet's innovation priorities as an organization?

It's probably similar to pretty much any other organization out there, or at least the more established ones. Every organization is looking for growth. So one piece of it is growth by finding and helping these disruptive companies and then becoming part a part of them, becoming their partners, helping them grow. Then we grow with them as well. 

That's a challenge because a lot of companies, their strategy is go find startups. Well, you can't just find startups. You have to find the right startups because 99 out of 100 startups fail. Maybe more than that even. Even the ones that succeed, sometimes it takes years and years and years. So that's why what we're doing with mHUB, we're filling in those gaps. We increase the chance it succeeds and we speed it up and shorten the amount of time it takes for them to succeed because if they don't have to go do all these other things that Avnet's already an expert at, it reduces the risk and makes everything much faster.

5. How does mHUB Accelerated Incubation, and accelerators in general, align with Avnet's innovation strategy?

HUB helps connect us with some pretty amazing startups. That's important because like I mentioned, since a lot of them fail, you can't spend all your resources on every single startup and even every single company. So you got to at least pick and choose. 

mHUB also has many complimentary pieces to what Avnet has to make these startups successful. So it's about filling in gaps. mHUB can do that; whether it's providing some financial support at the beginning or even mentorships, and then allowing the office space and some of the mechanical equipment and so forth. It fills in gaps. Then I think with Avnet filling other gaps, it's a pretty powerful solution and really powerful partnerships for these startups, because again, it mitigates the risk and it allows the startups to truly just focus on their core competence.

The 9 Teams in the IIoT cohort have arrived in Chicago and are working through the mHUB Accelerator program, sponsored by Avnet & Panduit. For more information on each of the sector-specific 6-month programs for hardtech startups, visit mhubaccelerator.com.

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