Annual Report 2021
Report by the Board of Directors
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Market Outlook and the Implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic for Bittium

Bittium´s customers operate in various industries, each of them having its own industry specific factors driving the demand. A common factor creating demand among the whole customer base is the growing need for higher quality and secure data transfer. Due to the technology competencies accrued over time and the long history in developing mobile communication solutions, Bittium is in a good position to offer customized solutions to its customers. Over thirty years of experience and extensive competence in measuring biosignals also act as a basis for medical technology solutions.

In 2020 and 2021, the global coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the global economy and market situation. Bittium´s business sales cycles are long by their nature, but the pandemic has also affected Bittium´s business, among others, by slowing down existing projects and postponing new projects. The market is slowly beginning to recover from the effects of the pandemic, but the global shortage of components will affect product manufacturing and thus the ability to deliver products to customers on schedule.

The factors affecting the demand for Bittium´s products and services and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on them are described below:

Defense, Public Safety, and Information Security Markets

  • In the defense market´s tactical communications sector, the governments´ defense forces and other authorities need networks that troops, who are more and more constantly on the move, can use and transfer growing amounts of data securely. This creates demand for Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ (TAC WIN) broadband network, Bittium Tough SDR™ handheld and vehicular radios, and for other Bittium´s IP-based (Internet Protocol) tactical communication solutions that fulfill the needs of data transfer of moving troops and individual soldiers. Bittium continues its efforts to bring its defense market targeted products and services also to the international defense markets and aims to get new international customers for its tactical communication system in 2022. Due to the long sales cycles driven by purchasing programs of national governments, it will take time to receive purchase orders. Exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic have to some extent affected the progress of programs, which has slowed down the completion of larger deals.
  • The financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic affect the budgets of public finances such as states and public authorities and have required postponing of procurement. This has somewhat delayed the launch of new projects and receiving orders. Especially in the defense and authorities´ markets testing and piloting of products and systems are typical phases before receiving orders of larger entities, and current circumstances due to the pandemic situation have caused delays in them. However, the market has begun to recover from the effects of the pandemic. The global shortage of components affects the availability of various components used in products, which affects the company´s ability to deliver products to its customers on time.
  • The use of LTE technology, smartphones, and applications continue to increase in special verticals, such as public safety, creating demand for Bittium Tough Mobile™ secure LTE smartphone and other customized special terminals based on Bittium´s own product platform. The awareness of mobile security risks is growing, and the interest in secure mobile devices is increasing. The sales of secure terminal products are expected to develop moderately according to the nature of public safety markets.
  • The smartphone sales process often involves testing and piloting systems and equipment, possibly integrating third-party technologies, and possible local regulatory approvals, which are typically lengthy processes. Exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic may have a significant impact on the progress of projects, which slows down the closings of larger transactions.

Telecommunication and Digitalization

  • In mobile telecommunications, the implementation of 5G is accelerating in pace. Investments in developing new features continue and the importance of software development in the 5G network development expands. This creates demand for Bittium´s R&D services. There is a wide range of frequencies allocated for the 5G technology, thus creating the need to develop multiple products to cover the market and creating demand for R&D services for the development of product variants. The different kinds of needs for solutions in the open radio frequency network architecture, Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN), and satellite communication increase the demand for Bittium´s R&D expertise as new players enter the traditional supplier network. Also, the development of new devices utilizing 5G technology increases the demand for Bittium´s services.
  • As digitalization evolves, secure IoT (Internet of Things) has become a significant development area in almost every industry. The increasing need for companies to digitalize their operations, collect data wirelessly, and transfer it to the internet and cloud services generate a need for Bittium´s services and customized solutions. To this end, the market needs secure devices, for both demanding industrial and leisure applications, which collect information from the sensors used by the device and create a reliable wireless connection to the Internet and cloud services. The deployment of 5G technology is expanding and the number of digitalized devices increases continuously. The devices will also feature new and more advanced features that will create demand for design services. Therefore, the integration of different systems and technologies play an important role in enabling complete digitalization services. There are several learning systems and devices under development that use different kinds of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to ease and speed up the processing of large data amounts.
  • Changes in the digitalization of the automotive industry and new business models as well as the automation of automotive operations create a need for technological development. Most significant technology trends, such as wireless connectivity, intelligent mobility, self-driving cars, and electric cars, are guiding needs for innovative software development. The share of software in cars quickly is increasing, and software is becoming a major enabler and a differentiator. The use of the Android™ Automotive operating system in the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems is strongly entering the market. Several carmakers have announced the launch of cars with Android Automotive. Bittium´s more than a decade of experience with the Android operating system and the Google ecosystem combined with wireless connectivity know-how create good business opportunities for this market.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has slowed sales of product development services. Despite the fact that adaptation to new circumstances and practices has gone well, the pandemic has slowed down the progress of existing projects and the acquisition of new customers. However, the market has slowly begun to recover from the effects of the pandemic and new customer projects have been launched. The coronavirus pandemic and labor competition are expected to continue prevailing in the market during 2022. The goal is to further increase the number of product development service projects and expand the international customer base.

Medical ECG, EEG, and Sleep Apnea Remote Monitoring Market

  • The medical technology market is undergoing significant development in patient care, especially outside hospitals. There is an increasing focus on the prevention of diseases and health problems through early diagnosis and the discharge of patients at an earlier stage to reduce hospital and treatment days. These actions significantly increase efficiency in health care processes and lower costs.
  • A prerequisite for early hospital discharge is the enabling of accurate and precise follow-up and measurement opportunities in home conditions, which would be enabled through remote monitoring. Remote monitoring and remote diagnostics also enable specialists´ diagnoses regardless of time and place. Also, evolving artificial intelligence-based algorithms become more common in supporting physicians in making diagnoses. Remote monitoring and remote diagnostics make it possible and faster to obtain more accurate diagnoses, which, in turn, speeds up the start of the right kind of treatment. The market change will enable several new providers to join the overall care service chain, without compromising the quality of specialist services.
  • For remote monitoring and remote diagnostics, Bittium provides its Bittium Faros™ product family for remote heart monitoring, Bittium BrainStatus™ for measuring the electrical activity of the brain, home sleep apnea testing solution Bittium Respiro™, and different kinds of diagnostics software offered by Bittium.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic spread, the number of non-emergency patients going to treatments and tests to healthcare providers decreased. Several hospitals and medical care facilities have postponed their non-emergency tests and examinations and focused on the treatment of the pandemic patients as well as on the actions aimed to prevent the virus from spreading. The pandemic situation varies from country to country, but generally the market is beginning to get back to normal again. In the long-term, the pandemic will accelerate the use of remote services in hospitals and medical care facilities, and thus create positive development on the demand for remote monitoring products and services.
  • The global shortage of components affects the availability of various components used in products and can have an impact on company´s ability to deliver products to its customers on time.