Sit back, relax and let your customers create your products

Vintage Factory Workers (click for larger view)

Two enlightening and informative posts today that deserve you reading them. One by Doc Searl’s and the other by Tim O’Reilly. Both see beyond the technical aspects and deeply into the meaning behind it.

Doc talks about real relationships and markets where actual people interact (vs. eyeballs, clicks or targets). In a day of marketers gleefully talking about “harnessing collective intelligence” and offloading the hard work of figuring out what people will buy through putting in place methods to lurk and observe what they want instead, Doc’s premise is one where customers are on equal footing in the relationship with those delivering goods and  services.

Tim then discusses a real-world, collective-intelligence-harnessing business model geared for customer’s to participate in choosing which products get made. He illustrated this by taling about what threadless.com has done with customer participation (i.e., “voting” on which t-shirts get made). Making t-shirts isn’t terribly complex or involved, but then O’Reilly talks about what I also view as the complex, powerful possibility going forward: mass customization.

At some point in the not too distant future, imagine releasing computer aided design drawings for one of your products, letting customers modify or enhance them (either as an individual or as a group of people), and manufacturing the end result?

Or what if your production line was set up for actual, one-off, mass customization? People could return their “order” as a customized, ready for manufacturing one-off that would be shipped or maybe picked up at one of your resellers with output devices in their store?

Perhaps these designs will be sold and delivered for self-production. Think this is far fetched? Not since I’m already seeing an acceleration in the capability of delivery possibilities that go beyond just prototyping (e.g., 3D printers which I wrote about last year). Great example is how far we’ve come from color printing with presses to ones in our offices and homes.

What I *really* want, however, is a replicator like on Star Trek. Just ask and it’s created.

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1 Comment

  1. Color Print on March 12, 2007 at 4:32 am

    Color Print

    In many markets, color printing has become the competitive standard And although this book is a



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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.