Thought Leadership

Technology trends

By Colin Walls

In last week’s blog I talked about what was going on at Embedded World and made some observations about what seemed to be “hot”. I have been thinking about this and wondering which topics, technologies or products embedded software engineers actually think are important, interesting or exciting. Obviously trend surveys and the like give some indication, but I realized that I already had a tool at my fingertips that gave me insight …

How do you measure anyone’s interest in anything? For example, how would I find out how much you enjoy watching TV? I could ask you and you are likely to give a somewhat subjective answer. Alternatively, I could ask how many hours a week do you spend watching it, which would give me a much better measure.

So, the trick is to ask people to devote some time to something. The more positive responses you get, the more popular or interesting the thing is. This what we do all the time: we run marketing events and invite people. When such events have a clear focus, the response we get indicates the popularity of the topic. This is particularly true with Web seminars, as we can afford to invite a large number of people and run multiple sessions, as needed. Obviously, not everyone who registers actually attends, but we can predict attendance quite well. Also, a lot of people will view the recorded event afterwards – generally more than those who attend “live”.

In recent months we have learned a lot about what interests embedded engineers:

  • Android is certainly hot. When we ran the first webinar on this topic, we broke all records for attendance at a Mentor Graphics online event. I think we ended up running 3 separate sessions.
  • Graphics and graphical user interfaces seem to be attractive too. We take any opportunity we can to show off our Inflexion product.

It is more surprising when somewhat “mature” technologies pull a crowd:

  • C++ seems to be of continuing interest and a recent session attracted a large audience and a record number of questions.
  • A topic that seems to be surprisingly popular is USB, which I blogged about a while ago. At the time of writing, I am completing preparations for a webinar which will be run in about a week’s time. The registration level is so high that we are already planning to offer [at least] 2 sessions. I would be interested to learn the reason for this popularity – emails or comments would be welcome. Is it just the current hype for USB 3.0 or something else?

Another way to assess interest is to ask people directly. So, what interests you right now? Is there a topic that you would like us to cover in a webinar?

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at