That shift has been happening for a while, and it has a little to do with many of the processes becoming overblown and too expensive. But I think that it’s great when someone can do research, plan and then do hi-fi screens, skipping the lo-fi almost completely (aside for maybe some quick sketches).
It’s possible and it’s not that difficult. And UI is an integral part of the experience the user faces — it can lead to better engagement and better trust if it’s done right.
And in the end it’s still only moving rectangles around, so if someone mastered user research mastering UI should be no biggie.
And that makes the entire product development process faster, you can release MVPs or test versions faster and then research on them, get results, adjust, release again.