This past week, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the MindMotion Developer Conference in Shenzhen, China. Other participants included several semiconductor industry veterans and luminaries, one of whom was the very well respected “father of MCUs in China”, Mr. George Zhou. The discussion that followed reinforced what we have been promoting now for some time with respect to our EOS™ S3 sensor processing platform. Namely, that general purpose MCU makers will have a challenging time keeping up with the compute requirements that many next-generation edge products will require. What resonated with the audience is the concept that the future of IoT will be enabled by more purpose built, heterogenous, multi-core SoCs.
How did we arrive at this conclusion early on and actually deliver a product that supports the heterogenous, multi-core concept well ahead of most other companies? It’s pretty simple – we listened to our customers. In fact, the most important aspect of Design Thinking is to use the voice of the customer as a critical input to the development process. This approach should apply to everyone in the organization and I firmly believe there is no better way to start defining a product than to get out in the marketplace and just talk with people. Have enough conversations with the right people and pretty quickly you start to get an understanding of their critical needs.
Then it’s a matter of synthesizing the input, choosing the important features and being willing to trade-off the less important ones. If you manage this process correctly, the result is a product that many people are actually interested in buying. We believed that we accomplished that objective with our EOS S3 platform. In fact, I’m proud to say that during a subsequent discussion with the CTO of a large hearable company, he referred to our EOS S3 as a “masterpiece in system engineering”.
We’ve also found that potential customers and prospective partners in China are very interested in working together with Silicon Valley companies to build better products for the marketplace at large. Thus the “voice of the customer” approach is actually bidirectional and our discussions should be dialogues rather than monologues. If we collectively have enough of these conversations and really listen, everyone (we semiconductor manufacturers, our partners, our customers who produce products, and their customers who buy the products) truly comes out ahead. Win, win, win, and win – we all like the sound of that.