It is always encouraging to meet with customers and partners to explore new possibilities for engineering and technology. Doing so with global manufacturers makes it all the more interesting, yet also more challenging as we reach the crossroads of industries and technologies.  From this perspective, we are presented today with a rich field of opportunities for new innovations and new thinking.

Much of that innovation is manifesting itself through the convergence of industry with the same products we use as consumers. For example, this week at CES 2013, Ford (IW 500/6) invited developers to create apps and customized driving experiences, by opening up its Sync AppLink Platform. This collaboration has the potential to provide a previously unimaginable integration of software platforms into cars to create next generation experiences.

This process is rapidly increasing today across multiple manufacturing and engineering segments. The leverage of technology is pervasive, be it at the consumer or industrial level, as we adopt embedded technologies, M2M, cloud, substantially improved user interface, etc.

Manufacturers harnessing these new and upcoming technologies aim to make significant business impact through new products in the global market with the increased acceleration they enable.

Even companies that are well established in a defined market with a set of mature and proven products are embracing change with the advent of omnipresent connectivity and new technologies.

As a result, engineering has become one of the most heavily invested areas for some of these companies. In many, embedded, platform and software engineering now account for 40% to 50% of the R&D investment, which is a massive jump from just a few years ago.

In the recently concluded Embedded Technologies event in Yokohama, Japan, more than 40% of the participants were from industrial companies -- a shift from the earlier dominance of consumer-oriented companies as early adopters.

Higher growth in emerging markets compared to mature markets in the medium- to long-term is the opportunity no-one wants to miss, and this certainly calls for innovative and competitive products across all industries, be it auto, medical, consumer, industrial, etc.

Acceleration in product development and engineering is equally critical in mature markets like the U.S., which must seek new ways to achieve market competitiveness through such technologies as digital manufacturing, robotics, energy efficient systems, and M2M capabilities.