The Automated Test Outlook Methodology

Publish Date: Mar 28, 2013 | 4 Ratings | 4.00 out of 5 | Print

The Automated Test Outlook is a comprehensive view of key technologies and methodologies impacting the test and measurement industry. View the latest trends from National Instruments.

How We Arrived at the Trends

Predicting the future is hard work. Fortunately, we cast a wide net in terms of the inputs we use to arrive at the trends. As a supplier of test technology to more than 35,000 companies worldwide each year, we receive a broad range of feedback across industries and geographies. This broad base creates a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data to draw on. 

"Electronics companies are emerging from the Great Recession with a portfolio of new products with higher performance and lower cost. The Automated Test Outlook is the resource for test organizations looking to invest in next-generation technologies and methodologies to test these innovative products."

- Alex Davern, Chief Operating Officer, National Instruments

We stay up-to-date on technology trends through our internal research and development activities. As a technology-driven company, we invest more than 16 percent of our revenue annually into R&D. But as a company that focuses on moving commercial technology into the test and measurement industry, our R&D investment is leveraged many times over in the commercial technologies we adopt. Thus, we maintain close, strategic relationships with our suppliers. We conduct biannual technology exchanges with key suppliers that build PC technologies, data converters, and software components to get their outlook on upcoming technologies and the ways these suppliers are investing their research dollars. Then we integrate this with our own outlook. We also have an aggressive academic program that includes sponsored research across all engineering disciplines at universities around the world. These projects offer further insight into technology directions often far ahead of commercialization.

And, finally, we facilitate advisory councils each year where we bring together leaders from test engineering departments to discuss trends and to share best practices. These councils include representatives from every major industry and application area – from testing fighter jets to the latest smartphone to implantable medical devices. The first of these forums, the Automated Test Customer Advisory Board, has a global focus and is in its 12th year. We also conduct regional meetings, called Regional Advisory Councils, around the world. Annually, these events include well over 300 of the top thought leaders developing automated test systems.

We’ve structured this outlook into five categories. In each of these categories, we highlight a major trend that we believe will significantly influence automated test in the coming one to three years. We update the trends in these categories each year to reflect changes in technology or other market dynamics. We will even switch categories if the changes happening are significant enough to warrant it.

As with our face-to-face conversations on these trends, we hope that the Automated Test Outlook will be a two-way discussion. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the industry’s technology changes so we can continue to integrate your feedback into this outlook as it evolves each year.

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