Post-Covid, Will Connections Be Scarcer?

A friend writes to say he’s been about the effects of “social distancing” policies. Will they have a permanent effect on our lives, he wondered. And will they impact events such as trade shows?

It wasn’t the first time I have been asked that of late. The subject also came up on a couple of podcasts I’ve had the good fortune to do, one with Judy Warner of Altium and the other with Mike Konrad of Aqueous Technologies.

My short answer is, I think there will be an impact, but it will swing toward more contact, not less. Indeed, after being cooped up for so long, I think people will crave human connections. Moreover, I don’t think it will have an effect on trade shows. In fact, I think this will reveal lots of holes/flaws in inter-/intra-company digital communications, which gives us all something to work on for the next quarantine (heaven forbid). 

We aren’t the only ones contemplating what happens next. The Boston Globe this week published a piece in which several self-styled business futurists and science-fiction writers expect the world will look like next fall/winter.

I can’t say I’m impressed with most of their responses, which if anything feel exaggerated for effect. But see for yourself.

Future Shock in Modern Times

By the time we round the corner into 2013, I will enter my 20thyear in the PCB and electronics industry. I find myself often gravitating to others like me (50 years and older) to swap nostalgic war stories of days gone by.  My journey in the industry, unlike my cronies, is marked by a 12-year hiatus that began around 1998 when I made the decision to stay home and raise my two young daughters full time. I resurfaced in 2010, with nearly grown kids, totally clueless about the state of an industry that I had all but forgotten.
Rip Van Winkle
For this reason, I possess a rather unique perspective, not unlike that of Rip Van Winkle waking from a prolonged slumber.  Some things have changed dramatically, while other things seem unaltered. The greatest “future shock” that I experienced upon reentry was the fact that people had all but ceased to speak to each other or meet face to face (apart from coworkers) preferring rather the more efficient use of emails and texts. The sophistication of voice mail systems had evolved so radically that they secured decision makers into cozy office-bunkers. Phones rang far less, and real-live receptionists had nearly gone extinct! I quickly adapted to the brave new world and became a speed-typing, computer-dependent, Linked In guru. I am now fully integrated into the modern day business sensibilities of 2012. Phew!

Last week Transline was exhibiting at the Del Mar Electronics and Design show, and I was asked to do a one-hour talk. I decided my topic would be How to Fall in Love with Your PCB supplier. I meant it to be a tongue-in-cheek comparison to John Gray’s relational model of Mars and Venus, and how suppliers and customer relationships contain a similar tension. I sought to identify the areas of disparity and offer ways to reconcile these differences—noting that much of these are a result of poor communication and not talking to each other!  For research, I went on Linked In and asked people what they loved and hated about working with PCB suppliers. I received some excellent feedback and blended that with my near 20 years of experience, having worn my share of hats and gaining multiple perspectives—including my Rip Van Winkle viewpoint.
I would like to share some of the input I received along with the input of the dozen or so folks that showed up for my talk. I hope you will find it as fascinating as I did! I will also chime in with my own opinions for what attributes add up to a really effective “lovable” PCB supplier. I will also attach a paper I wrote with the culmination my findings. Until next time … Live long and prosper!

— Judy

All’s Well at West

We really had an outstanding week at PCB West. Preshow registration rose to nearly 2,000 (!) and actual attendance was up more than 30% over last year.

Congratulations to Judy Warner and Michael Ingham, whose talk on RF/microwave design and fabrication drew more than 100 attendees, the most in the conference. Newcomer Jamin Taylor’s presentation on flex construction also drew more than 80 folks. Well done!

I also want to congratulate the winners of the PCD&F NPI Award for best new software tools of 2011. They include:

  • Design Verification Tools: DfR Solutions (Sherlock Automated Design Analysis)
  • Computer-aided Design (CAM) Tools: Downstream Technologies (CAM350)
  • Documentation Tools: Polar Instruments (Professional HDI Stackup Design & Documentation)
  • PCB Design Tools: Altium (Altium Designer 10)
  • System Modeling and Simulation Tools: Sigrity (SystemSI – Parallel Bus Analysis)

We have posted the full announcements on PCD&F’s site. Thanks to all who attended!