Recently I gave an interview to Semiwiki where I spoke about the emerging need for the user experience (UX) design practice in the semiconductor industry. UX is already mainstay in the pure software space – a critical step in pure software product development process, not only to create usable products, but getting them to market faster while spending less in development. More and more companies in the semiconductor industry are delivering software as part of their complete solution, for both B2C and B2B customers. As their customers increasingly expect the same world-class user experience from their integrated hardware solutions as they do from their software solutions, companies must recognize the importance of strategically investing in user experience design.
Here are the trends I’m seeing, all of which suggest the need for UX design during the product development process:
Vertical Integration: Hardware companies are building both the components and the integrated solution, which now includes customer-facing software. For their customers to be successful, the complete solution must be best-in-class quality, including the software that ties it all together. Just look at what NVIDIA is doing with their enterprise software suite that supports cloud customers who create AI applications, leveraging off the shelf pre-trained AI libraries to support quick build, then deployment, and finally end-to-end management. Their software ties together the entire solution into an extremely compelling cloud and edge offering. I would want to use it!
Digital Transformation: Existing legacy software needs to meet the expectations of changing customer requirements. For instance, migration from on-premises solutions to the cloud can launch a company ahead of its competition, but the effort also requires new expectations, know-how, and skill sets in both software design and development.
Customer-enablement: Businesses that purchase and integrate hardware to build solutions require upfront time to do so. It’s to the advantage of any hardware vendor to enable their customers’ acceleration to market. Enabling your customers with easy-to-use software to build their own solutions more easily and quickly means they ramp to production and generate revenue sooner.
Purpose-built Products: We’re seeing specialized solutions that meet business requirements for specific types of customers. In contrast to general-purpose products, these require a solid understanding of the target customers, their users, and use cases. The entire solution – including the critical software that ties it all together, must be a complete match for their needs.
“New EDA”: A new wave of EDA tooling is emerging. These new EDA solutions largely aim to address the traditional barriers that made custom ASIC design infeasible for many enterprises. Companies who cannot afford large IC design departments and budgets can now have another option beyond expensive FPGA implementations. With intuitive user interfaces crafted to reduce the need for training and support, they are much simpler than traditional EDA solutions while effective for the companies who aren’t pushing the bleeding edge of performance.
The semiconductor industry is evolving, and the need for UX design practice is becoming clear as they increasingly integrate customer-facing or customer-enabling software as deliverables. UX design needs a seat at the table, and be involved early during the product development process. Those who recognize the value of investing in UX design can build best-in-class solutions faster, with better customer satisfaction, and position themselves ahead of the competition.