Top Embedded Distributor: Q&A with Brian Armstrong, Arrow Electronics Inc.

February 01, 2013

Arrow Electronics ( is a global provider of products, services, and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic component...



ECD: As a major component supplier to OEMs, what are the most significant changes and trends that you see in the embedded marketplace?

ARMSTRONG: Intel has been saying for 30 years that companies will stop doing proprietary designs and move to COTS [Commercial Off-the-Shelf] products. We now are seeing a substantial amount of customers doing just that. We also are seeing many customers – especially startups – investing their time and money into their software and instead outsourcing their hardware design and integrations. And Arrow is filling this need on a global basis. With our seven integration centers around the world and our global logistics services, we are helping our customers get to market as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

In addition, there is clear movement toward more power-efficient systems and platforms. More densely populated, multinode servers; lower-power, multiple processor designs for higher performance; and, in many cases, designs that create much smaller footprints are being implemented.

ECD: What is your assessment of the worldwide market conditions for embedded technology, and how does it affect your business development plans?

ARMSTRONG: Considering the challenging economic conditions that are present at the macro level around the world, our customers are reporting growth in most regions of the world. Arrow is continuing to make investments in our embedded business both in the Americas and in Europe. There is a tremendous amount of new design work taking place.

ECD: In which market segment and geographic area do you foresee the fastest growth for embedded products?

ARMSTRONG: Our customers in the Americas and Europe alike are reporting that they are seeing growth, particularly those in the aerospace and defense, industrial control, and appliance spaces. (Currently we do not have a significant embedded business in Asia.) Although the medical segment has been strong for years, customers in that market appear to be focused on digesting the impact of “Obamacare’s” excise tax on their continuing ability to fund research and development at the levels they have in the past.

Additionally, OEMs are transitioning to branded products from HP, IBM, and Dell to carry their intellectual property. It often proves to be much more cost effective for them and can give them the advantage of worldwide service and on-site support that normally might be out of reach financially. With embedded system manufacturer partners such as Advantech, Kontron, Emerson, Radisys, Aaeon, BCM, and others – and with customers also using our branded partners such as Dell, HP, and IBM – Arrow’s OEM Computing Solutions organization can assist with any of these embedded applications.

ECD: What seminar, educational events, and/or online support do you offer to help designers keep up-to-date on the latest embedded products and technologies?

ARMSTRONG: Arrow offers locally organized seminars targeting specific vertical markets and technologies. These are conducted at various times throughout the year in all sales regions. Multiple suppliers presenting complementary technologies that meet the needs of specific verticals including digital signage and communications, network security, streaming video and voice delivery, and market-specific OEM systems are featured. We also work closely with key suppliers to present joint product-specific webinars designed to provide attendees with the most current embedded technology road maps and product releases.

Additionally, Arrow provides many online tools to help our customers keep up-to-date on the latest embedded products and technologies. The tools are constantly being updated to allow customers to not only gather information on new efforts but also to manage and track projects they currently are working on. In addition to webinars and seminars, we partner with suppliers on specific campaigns to educate not only our customers but the industry in general on new product offerings and technology advances through direct marketing and telemarketing efforts.