Just as Amazon shook up the world of retail, an enterprising entrepreneur could come along and upend the world of design services, a market segment that needs a good shake up.
With chip complexity at it highest and market pressures at their worst, selecting the right design services partner has never been more important. All too often, unfortunately, design services companies live by the old, outmoded and tired "body shop" business model that offers neither flexibility nor breadth of expertise.
From its start in 1995, Amazon has had some pretty lofty goals and has met them. According to its website, Amazon strives to be Earth's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online. Why, then, shouldn't design services purveyors have similarly lofty, customer-centric goals?
In the ideal world of design services, openness and accountability should be the foundation for building long-term and successful partnerships, much like Amazon's pricing and customer service orientation changed retail.
Amazon's an easy choice for anyone with an internet connection, which is not always the case when selecting a design services firm. Many a time, a chip company that contracts with a design services vendor is given a proposal and has no way to know if the price and schedule are reasonable and achievable.
The hired gun is another approach to design services that needs a considerable overhaul. The design services industry is riddled with small companies that place contract engineers and designers onsite at the chip company and charge an hourly, weekly or monthly rate. The design services firm is not well aligned with the project's success because resources are paid for by the company whether or not the project is successful.
Technical and business acumen drive Amazon's success, just as they should with design services. Amazon's website boasts that it's by design that technological innovation drives its growth to offer more types of products, more conveniently, and at lower prices, just the sort of thinking a design services firm should have. Of course, the design services provider should have design experience and expertise with leading-edge process technologies. As chip complexity grows, manufacturing services becomes an increasingly important component of the business.