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As suppliers find themselves strapped for engineering resources, they've encouraged customers to seek design assistance from the Web or from their channel partners. Distributors, in particular, have been happy to pick up the slack, despite the cost of hiring engineers. Customers now have all constituencies vying for their attention, and the result has been a significant shift of engineering resources and talent into the channel.
"One of the big changes we've seen is that customers want more of a [full design] solution," says Ed Smith, president of Avnet Electronics marketing for the Americas. "If they come to us for an FPGA [field-programmable gate array], they also want the parts that work around the FPGA." "Customers are outsourcing more of their design efforts," says Lindsley Ruth, corporate vice president at Future Electronics. "They are looking for someone that can go beyond a component-level design that can be provided by anyone."
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