Illustration creates an intimacy that communicates sincerity in saying “we’re working on it” or “we understand that this software is your livelihood”. It’s an opportunity to take your user out of a frustrating situation, and lead them back into a positive experience.
It's been fascinating to watch the demand for talented illustrators explode in the past few years. Non-designers have started to care about (and invest in) illustration like never before. They recognize the value that it can bring to a digital product, not only from a user experience level but also from a dollars-and-cents business level.
That's insanely exciting and is a huge opportunity for the illustrators of the world who are interested in tech. And for non-illustrative product designers: don't forget that illos can be one of the most powerful tools in our tool belt of ways to connect with the people who use our products.