It’s Not What You Own, It’s What You Know

Given the success of companies like Facebook and Uber, maybe owning physical assets isn’t so important anymore.

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Shifting business models can change the rules. The ecosystems that define our manufacturing, procurement and delivery processes, along with the customer buying behaviors associated with those processes, can shift dramatically over time, resulting in a world that seems to be upside down at first glance. The exodus of mainstream manufacturing out of certain countries is an example of these shifts. So is disaggregation, or specialization of the supply chain and, of course, the movement of many business processes to the Internet.

Let’s examine these trends from a couple of different perspectives. First, what does ownership of assets mean to business success and growth? Consider some examples:

• Facebook owns no content – it’s all user generated
• Uber owns no cars – they’re provided by their membership
• Airbnb owns no hotel rooms – facilities are provided by their network

Here’s one that hits close to home for me, and probably a lot of other fabless chip companies:

• eSilicon owns no fabs, testers or assembly facilities. All of this infrastructure is provided by our partners

Maybe owning phyiscal assets isn’t all that important anymore. Let’s now look at the situation through a different lens – the management, analysis and delivery of information.

Figure 1

Things take on a very different look from this perspective.

• Facebook provides the infrastructure to manage massive quantities of information and deliver meaningful observations about that information to its users.
• Uber delivers end-user requirements for transportation to its membership quickly, accurately and intuitively.
• Airbnb provides the information backbone to faciliatate residential rentals, worldwide.

Oh yes, and:

• eSilicon delivers pricing, IP performance and logistics tracking to its customers online, worldwide, in real time, making it easier and more predictable to build a complex chip

Lately, I’ve noticed a new trend in our industry – the deployment of big data analytics. We recently launched a new online portal, called the eSilicon STAR online tool suite. Part of that platform is a technolology to assist designers with making the right choices for things like IP, process options, operating conditions and supply chain partners for their next IC project. We call it design virtualization.

Design virtualization is powered by big data analytics and machine learning. It lets you find the best options for your chip project without the need to actually implement costly and time-consuming trial runs see what works best. Instead, we do it in real time with our big data analytics technology.

Design virtualization is one example of how harnessing information in new and novel ways can be good business. This is only the start. Chip design is evolving and changing in the Internet age.