The year 2021 has been a tough year for everyone. Industries across the globe were shut, companies were barely floating above the economic ocean, in fact, and this year had pushed the whole world almost 2 to 3 years backwards, when all we were aiming was to achieve the things new and unheard of milestones. The unprecedented outbreak of Covid 19 had a fierce impact on all the sectors of the global economy. Businesses that were hoping to expand and grow were now barely surviving, and no sector remained untouched from the horrors of the pandemic.
However, things are changing their course now. As the whole world is rapidly moving forward with vaccination drives, the blanket of the outbreak is being pushed away. Businesses and industries are going back to Normal, but with a ‘New Normal’. They are optimistic to recover the damage that has been made by the pandemic and foresee a brighter future for their operations.
In an exclusive conversation, electronics’ industry giant STMicroelectronics’ President & CEO Jean-Marc Cherry shed some light on the Industry Outlook of 2022 from his vantage point.
STMicroelectronics is a global semiconductor leader delivering intelligent and energy-efficient products and solutions that power electronics at the heart of everyday life. ST is enabling smarter driving and smarter factories, cities and homes, along with the next generation of mobile and Internet of Things devices.
Excerpts from the exclusive conversation:
ELE Times: Looking ahead to 2022, which market segments are you most optimistic about? What’s your company’s planning accordingly?
Jean-Marc Chery, STMicroelectronics: At ST, our strategy stems from the three long-term enablers—Smart Mobility, Power & Energy, and IoT & 5G—that we’d already identified and in place years ago, and that the pandemic has made even more influential. We had seen an acceleration of these trends following the initial phase of the pandemic. And we can confirm that we will continue to see this acceleration also next year.
First, Smart Mobility. For STMicroelectronics this is about helping car manufacturers make driving safer, greener and more connected for everyone. It is also about applications that create the supporting infrastructure, such as fast-charging stations for electric cars.
We have seen this trend strengthen recently with an even stronger push towards car electrification and digitalization. Government mandates and investment programs across the globe are providing a strong push. We can see this reflected in both the forecasts for the proliferation of electric vehicles, as well as the take up of ADAS features in the coming 3 years where the average growth rates have accelerated considerably versus the beginning of 2020. This in turn drives investment in infrastructure such as fast-charging stations and vehicle communication installations.
Second, Power & Energy management. The goal here is to enable the many different industries to increase energy efficiency everywhere while increasing the use of renewable energy. This increase in efficiency is driven by smarter system design, making use of the ever more efficient power semiconductors as well as digital power control solutions.
Here again we see an acceleration supported by government mandates and investment programs in key infrastructure like electricity grids, clean public transport and the energy transition.
And this is all linked to sustainability goals that we as a global community need to achieve.
Encouraging the use of renewable energy solutions by making them more cost-effective and efficient is a key element where the semiconductor industry can strongly contribute. For example, ST has committed to purchasing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2027. So this is clearly the main focus area for ST, and we are making a number of strategic investments in this area. We are accelerating our own sustainability effort and committed at the end of last year to become carbon neutral by 2027 – the earliest commitment of any semiconductor company.
The third enabler is the Internet of Things & 5G. Here we want to support the proliferation of smart, connected IoT devices. We provide the necessary building blocks and the associated development ecosystems to device creators. We provide microcontrollers, sensors, standalone connectivity & security solutions, and the analog and power management products needed for a complete system. Once again, we have seen an acceleration since last year – for example, there has been strong growth in the smart home appliances with further acceleration forecast in the coming years. We also see an increase in the investment in infrastructure by the major cloud service providers in the next 3 years.
The strategy ST has been following is based on these three enablers and the developments.
We make long-term investments in the key technologies needed to support the enabling trends and to contribute to a more sustainable world. The recent acceleration of these trends confirms that we have set the right strategy to serve our customers and the broader interests of society In the upcoming 2022, we remain determined to continue to make ST stronger, outperform the markets we serve, provide best-in-class service to our customers and partners while accelerating our own efforts on sustainability.
ELE Times: Do you think the chip shortage will continue in 2022? Why? In response to this situation, any countermeasures from the company?
Jean-Marc Chery, STMicroelectronics: We predict the global chip shortage will gradually be improved in 2022 but might not return to “normal” until the first half of 2023.
Our first priority is to manage the short term in order to avoid structural damage linked to the overstretched supply chain of semiconductors with our customers. So this is our main priority. It is a heavy task for all our management.
Then for the medium term for 2022 and 2023, first of all, we are starting to discuss with our customers either our initiatives or their own initiatives on the lessons learnt and how we can better plan in the future and give better visibility to the semiconductor supply chain to prepare with some flexibility. We need to find a way where customers provide the visibility that the semiconductor can acknowledge to prepare with risk mitigated with capacity. So we are working with them in order to plan our CAPEX and/or pass the information to our partners.