You can build your own Mustang on the Ford website. From top to bottom. I wonder what Henry Ford, the man who gave us the assembly line would say to that. Remember his legendary words: "Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants so long as it
A couple of hundred years after mass production technology changed the game, it seems to be making way for a new manufacturing paradigm – that of mass customization. No surprise, once again it’s a new technology that’s responsible. 3-D printing is debunking
economy of scale by making it feasible to produce goods, piece by unique piece. And it’s put the customer – not the production line – firmly in charge of the design/consumption decision.
This can have a profound effect on innovation. Imagine being able to create a sample lot for a test launch and tweak it again and again, without burning the budget. Or being able to stock different variants on the shelves of different stores, according to
local preference and need.
Why restrict your fantasy only to manufactured goods?
Let’s take the example of banking. A couple of decades ago, banking relationships were still “handmade”, and the branch manager attended to each customer personally. Core banking systems made it possible for branches to handle a huge increase in the number
of customers, thereby making the home branch concept redundant. Then self-service channels came along to further erode the personal side of banking. Banking transactions were now mass produced by the million.
Coming full circle, banks have realized that in a competitive, commoditized market, it’s that lost customer intimacy which can give them the edge. Fortunately, a combination of technologies can enable them to lavish individual attention on customers once
again, in the form of personalized products and services. For instance, analytics provide granular insight into customer needs; core banking systems tailor products to suit them; and electronic channels reach these products only to the customers they’re meant
for. Quickly, easily, viably.
Is history repeating itself?