Traditionally, electronic systems are made up of hardware and software. Although software can be changed remotely, hardware cannot. Once a product leaves the factory, any change required to the hardware requires either an on-site visit or a return-to base.
FPGAs make the creation of 'soft hardware' possible - moving many of the digital parts of a product into a chip that can be modified remotely.
This translates to massive risk reduction and also opens the door to new product strategies - allowing products to be released earlier with follow-up hardware upgrades or changes delivered electronically after shipment.