17 01, 2013

[Featured Research] Study Backs Long Term Claim with Hard Data: User-Generated Products Make More Profit

By | 2018-06-14T06:48:38+00:00 Januar 17th, 2013|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Featured Research, Furniture - Home, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Since years we argue that customers / users not just have good ideas for new products & services, but that products with roots in user innovation are actually more profitable and superior to inhouse-developed products. There has been some anecdotal evidence to prove this claim, and lots of case studies, but not hard data. But now a study provides hard evidence:


Journal_of_marketingUser-generated versus designer-generated products: A performance assessment at Muji
, by: Hidehiko Nishikawa, Martin Schreier, Susumu Ogaw, in: International Journal of Research in Marketing (2013)

Our colleagues Hidehiko Nishikawa (Hosei University), Martin Schreier (WU Vienna University) and Susumu Ogawa (Kobe University) show that user-generated products perform better
on the market than their (professional) designer-generated counterparts. Their idea is to systematically compare actual market performance of user-generated products with firm (designer)-generated ones.


User innovation (red) vs firm innovationThe authors present a unique data set gathered from the Japanese consumer goods brand Muji, which has drawn on both sources of ideas in parallel in recent years. They demonstrate that user-generated products in the furniture category, which are found to generally contain higher novelty outperformed their designer-generated counterparts on key market performance metrics.

Specifically, in the first year after introduction, sales revenues from user-generated products were three times higher and gross margins were four times greater than those of designer-generated products.

These effects also increased over time: after three years, the aggregate sales revenues of user-generated products were, on average, 1.25 billion yen (approximately 16 million dollars) higher, or five times greater, than the sales of designer-generated products. The corresponding average margin was an impressive 619 million yen (approximately 8 million dollars) higher, or six times greater, than the margin for designer-generated products. Finally, user-generated products were more likely to survive the three-year observation period than designer-generated products (i.e., were still on the market three years after introduction).

These findings clearly favor the paradigm shift identified in marketing research and appeal to managers considering the integration of user ideas into the process of new product development. In their paper, the authors discuss the study’s limitations and identify important avenues for future research.

I find this study especially interesting as MUJI is world-wide admired for their great inhouse design team! Also, the study shows that this is more than a novelty effect: Customers did not know whether a product was user designed or not, they just liked (and purchased) the product!

28 06, 2012

Market Watch: Extreme Customization with CedarWorks: Beautiful, Fully Customizable Playsets

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:37+00:00 Juni 28th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Furniture - Home, MC/OI on the Web, Technologies & Enablers|

LogoWhile customized clothing or cars are a rather obvious thing to offer, the MC application I want to present today is rather unique and a really great idea, bringing MC to a new extreme!.

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!Now, if you are blessed with children of young age, you might want to give them some of the outdoor toys we have all dreamed of during our childhood: A large wooden castle, equpped with some swing set, a slide and a sandbox. And while you can certainly buy one of these in the local hardware store of your choice, if you want to go for something that fits your well-designed garden a bit better, CedarWorks might have just the right offer for you.

The Rockport, ME, based company offers essentially everything you need to create the playset of your (or your little one's) dreams. Your fantasy is pretty much only limited by the laws of physics and the size of your real estate (and not even that, read on). A really easy to use configurator enables you to plan the wooden construction – may it be just a small swing set or a fully grown castle – by dragging and dropping parts like towers, bridges, slides, swings and all sorts of accessory

All images copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!

A demo play set, configurator view, 3D view and real life result. Click to enlarge!

 The configurator assists intuitively by highlighting such points that a selected element can be attached to, helping to create an appealing playground within minutes, even without any knowledge of online configuration (or carpentry). 

Copyright Cedarworks, www.cedarworks.com, all rights reserved!For clients unsure of how a great design could look, CedarWorks also offers a number of (partially really beautiful) preconfigured sets which can be ordered as-is or customized to one's needs, adding, removing or reordering parts of choice. To top it off, CedarWorks experts are just a phonecall away to help you decide on both a nice and realistic design for your individual conditions like availible space, number and age of kids, pets and so on. 

But what if you do not have a large garden of yours to house a play set? Well, maybe you have the lacking outdoor space availible indoors, in which case you can choose one of the indoor play sets that CedarWorks alongside their outdoor models. These, like their larger pendents, are customizable as well. 

If this concept sounds interesting for you, CedarWorks will hold a tour of their facilities in Rockport, ME, for interested, preregistered professionals. The tour, followed by a lunch, will take place on Friday, 17th of August 2012. More details and registration availible here.

More information about CedarWorks, their products, the configuration process as well as catalogues and pricing can be found on the companie's website.

22 09, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights – CEOs Report on Best Practices in MC and Personalization – Learning from experience

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:56+00:00 September 22nd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Events, Furniture - Home, MCPC2011, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers, Virtual Models|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

This will become a very exciting session based on MANY years of experience. The unifying element of these three talks are the capabilities of making mass customization happen. Learn about Robust Processes and Solution Space design in the first talk, a leading application of Choice Navigation in the second, and get the whole story and update of MVM – a pionieer in virual models.

Sessions 6.1 (Nov 19): Best Practices in MC and Personalization – CEO Presentations

Case Study: The Transition from Engineer-to-Order to Mass Customization in the Fire/Rescue Industry

David Gardner (Founder and Principal of mass-customization-expert) has over 30 years of experience in the design and integration of innovative business process and information technology solutions for "start-up" as well as established companies.

His case study presentation will focus on the key business drivers behind the transition from an engineer-to-order business model to the mass customization business model in the fire/rescue industry. He will examine the steps undertaken to make the transition and the challenges encountered overcoming company and industry inertia.

LOFT – a 24/7 Anywhere Showeroom – Staging a Multiverse Experience

In this presentation, Conny Dorrestijn (Chief Marketing Officer of NedSense) will present his companie's business case for LOFT which is based on two major external drivers: the ‘personalization and ME experience 24/7 anywhere’ demands of a global audience and rapidly increasing costs, competition and complexity of the textile & apparel industry. He will show how the LOFT customer experience engine offers a showroom experience anytime, anywhere and demonstrates the full collection of various textiles, floorings and wallpapers on the customer’s desired real object through the unique LOFT 3D scan technology. Conny Dorrestijn will explain how LOFT enables designers and manufacturers to offer their sales teams and end users, through their websites, the opportunity to upload their own 2D pictures which are instantly converted into 3-D environments in which the user can interact.

MyVirtualModel 2.0

Gregory Saumier-Finch (General Manager of My Virtual Model) will give insight into the new iteration of My Virtual Model's virtual garment presentation software, including 2-D to 3-D image conversion technology. MVM has been a pioneer in the field. After some hickups and shakes, the company is back in business, Gregory, emplyee #3 of MVM and with the company for over ten years, will share his expiernces and advice in this upcoming field of MC.

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration (reducted rates until Sept 30)

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

7 08, 2010

Woonio – A German MC startup for customized furniture gets it right

By | 2018-06-14T09:45:57+00:00 August 7th, 2010|Cases-Consumer, Furniture - Home|

Woonio Some years ago, I wanted to have a really custom work desk: very long, but quite narrow in its depth. I ended up with a Berlin-based craft shop making a wonderful table for us, at a price of almost $4000 and with a four month delivery time. I am very happy with the product, but not the price I had to pay and the time I had to wait.

The furniture industry is one of the key cases of customization — but never made the transition to mass customization. Furniture either is purchased standardized at big box retailers like IKEA or in more traditional stores where most items can be customized, but always come with a three month delivery time. I never really understood why the car industry is able to deliver an entire configured car within a few weeks, while a sofa takes three months or more.  In my observation, most players in this industry never really have implemented mass customization thinking — They stayed with craft customization: No stable processes, no toolkits for choice navigation.

There are exceptions of course, like bene, the Austrian office furniture manufacturer that has one of the world's best mass customization systems. But the general state of the industry really still lacks behind the technical possibilities. Which is strange, as CAD and design tools, parametric architectures, modularization, and flexible manufacturing cells are all well established in the furniture industry. However, in my opinion, very few people made the required connection between the back office and the customer frontend – and established stable processes.

In addition, furniture products have not been part of the recent wave of start-ups in mass customization. Woonio.de from Kempten, Germany, wants to change this. Here I would have been able to get my custom work desk for less than half the price, in a third of the time, and with a much larger selection of materials and styles. Also entirely "Made in Germany" in a very high quality.

The configuration process of Woonio Woonio Founder Roland Waedt opened his website earlier this year. Inspired by customization in the fashion industry, he wants to transfer the experience we know from customizing an individual garment to furniture. His company provides the product design, the website and 3D configurator, the brand name and customer service. Production is outsourced to cooperating manufacturers across Europe.

I really liked by the offering, as we saw so many food and t-shirt startups in the last year, but very little in other categories. The configurator is well done and allows one to easily explore the variety (even if I can imagine that some people would like to touch the real wood before buying — for this, you can order material samples).

I am curious to see how this venture develops, and how people adopt the offering. I believe there are larger hurdles for adaptation for this category, as consumers have no experience in purchasing these products online. For me personally, Woonio came a bit late on the market (I am very happy with the table I finally got), but for our next home, this is something worth considering.

Context (update). Nice list with online configuration tools in the home and furniture industry

29 05, 2010

MC Alternatives: Hipstery adds a new twist to t-shirt personalization – and Additik pimps your IKEA furniture

By | 2018-06-14T09:46:20+00:00 Mai 29th, 2010|Customization Trends, Furniture - Home, MC Alternatives, T-Shirts|

I am still finalizing a report about the SCS 2010 (in one word: it was great!), but before, here a posting with some alternatives to mass customization, i.e. business strategies that also build on the fact that people are different, but follow a different model than customizing an item for an individual consumer and fulfilling it with on-demand manufacturing. I recently got notice of two good MC alternatives:

MC Alternative I: Hipstery's match-to-order system

Hipstery_sticker_thumb Long-time readers of my blog will remember Adam Fletcher (and everyone interested in t-shirts will know him anyway). We had a wonderful cooperation when he was still working for Spreadshirt and directed the OpenLogo contest (and before, when he was writing his master's thesis on a very educated comparison of customization of shirts and Threadless' crowdsourcing model).

After some time travelling, Adam came back and opened Hipstery.com, a small venture that is very anti-customization in a way, but also somehow very pro-personalization in another.

His idea: Head to his nice retro-design website, answer a brief questionnaire on the net, and his magic algorithm (his stomach, I suppose) will pick exactly the graphic t-shirt that is right for you. He wants to take away the burden of choice (in a standard t-shirt shop) or the burden of co-creation (on a mass customization site) and to substitute it with a short survey on your needs.

I participated and got a really nice shirt I like. Calling this model "consumerism criticism", as the German weekly DER SPIEGEL did, is probably wrong. On the contrary, it is a very nice business model: Adam get's the overstock from nice t-shirt companies, adds the personalization magic and a very well done, very humorous and nice shopping process, and creates a great customer experience – and sells the shirts at a premium.

A similar (if more technical) personalization system (also called: "match-to-order" or "virtual build-to-order) employs Zafu (jeans). Also in the case of Dell Computers, it has been shown that such a need-based personalization is superior to parameter-based configuration: Instead of picking your hard-disk model and process speed, the system just asks you which software you want to run and what is your price range, and then automatically suggests you the best fitting product.

This kind of recommendation systems is a growing species on the internet, and when well done, it also can provide a great alternative to "hard" mass customization, i.e. mass customization that requires a flexible manufacturing system for fulfillment. In many industries, the existing assortment is large enough to fulfill each individual's need. The problem is just to find the right item – and to know on the first hand what the right item is. Here Adam comes in place!

MC Alternatives (II): Additik tunes your IKEA furniture

Additik-stval02 A long time ago, I wrote about Bemz, a Swedish shop that offers its customers to tune ("pimp") their IKEA standard sofas with customized covers. It is a great idea, using the de-facto standard of IKEA and adding some personal touch. In the meantime, an entire industry of IKEA improvements came to the market.

A new player is Additik from France who offers stickers for IKEA furniture. While the basic idea is good, the design quality (in my subjective opinion) does not matches Bemz' sophisticated Scandinavian design. Another nice alternative to traditional mass customization.More on the business model in my older posting.

So while mass customization in form of "co-creation" and "build to order" still is growing rapidly, we will see more alternative models that also want to profit from heterogeneity in the customer domain.

25 03, 2009

Interview: The Next Generation of Architectural Design: Daniel Smithwick from Physical Design Co on a great way to build the garden house of your dream … and much more

By | 2018-06-14T11:10:07+00:00 März 25th, 2009|Co-creation, Fabbing, Furniture - Home, Interview, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

Daniel Smithwick
Daniel Smithwick
is the co-founder and CEO of Physical Design Co., a Cambridge, MA, startup that wants to start a revolution in building structures. His vision: To empower every consumer to transform nearly any custom design into easily assembled physical structures delivered to your backyard! This could be your next garden house project. Before, you either had to purchase an expensive standard house at Home Depot that was not only labor intensive to assemble, but often ugly and not fitting exactly your requirements. Or you could get your hands dirty and start a complicated DIY project, constructing it with 2x4s and nails. As a last alternative, you could hire a contractor to build you your dream house … but this comes with a heavy price tag and often delays of the construction crew.

PHYSICAL DESIGN CO_logo
Daniel wants to offer another alternative: You design your dream in SketchUp, the free CAD software by Google, and his company will translate your uploaded design in a custom kit of interlocking CNC-cut parts that you can then easily assemble after delivery. His promise: "With Physical Design Co Web Platform anyone can design, remotely manage production, and assemble their own full-scale inhabitable creations!"

In an interview, Daniel shared more information about his project and company and what he regards as the future of mass customization.

Daniel Smithwick is an architectural designer by training and he is currently a graduate researcher at MIT where he is a member of the Smart Customization Group and the Digital Design and Fabrication Group.  Daniel co-lead the latest research project by the Digital Design and Fabrication Group called, “Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans,” a project commissioned by and exhibited at the MoMA in New York for their 2008 show, Home Delivery, Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.  Before coming to MIT, Daniel worked professionally as a designer for leading architecture and design firms including: Pompei Architectural Design in NYC, Loom Architects in Minneapolis, MN, and Howeler + Yoon Architecture in Boston.

FTP: Daniel, what is the idea behind your startup, Physical Design Co?

1 PHYSICAL DESIGN CO_Get Physical Process
DS: The central idea behind Physical Design Co. is to provide consumers with easy-to-use online tools that engage them in the design and manufacturing process and enables them to become the producers of their own architectural-scale designs.  Our web platform also allows consumers to utilize local manufacturing via our distributed fabrication network which not only reduces carbon emissions, but it also strengthens local economies.  Essentially, we’re re-thinking how our built environment is designed and constructed – with the Physical Design Co, online users, whether they live in rural China, or they are busy professionals interested in design, they can now play an active and participatory role in the built world around them.  

Through our web platform, anyone can upload and transform their digital design – any inhabitable accessory structure, from doghouses to backyard art studios – into a customized kit of interlocking parts that are locally manufactured and that can be easily assembled.  Consumers no longer need to rely on the traditional labor-intensive and wasteful construction process: with the Physical Design Co all you need is a rubber mallet to assemble your creation.

FTP: How is this different to existing companies in the field like Ponoko, Replicator or Shapeways?

DS: The Physical Design Co distinguishes itself in two ways. First, we provide consumers with the ability to custom design, and have fabricated, life-size and inhabitable scale structures, as opposed to only hand-held items like fashion accessories and table-top objects.  We’re interested in offering consumers more than just personalization; our web platform engages the consumer in the design, manufacturing and delivery process – giving them the tools to make smarter decisions about how they impact the built and natural environment.

Second, we have developed a patent-pending technology which automatically translates the user’s design into a unique kit of interlocking, easy-to-assemble parts.  For example, let’s say you wanted to design a backyard shed.  Instead of having to digitally model all of the individual parts, consider how they all attached together, worry about the structural integrity and verify that it is indeed possible to put it all together, with the Physical Design Co., all you have to do is model the shape of your design.  Our technology automatically and digitally translates the design shape into a kit-of-parts that can then be CNC fabricated and subsequently interlock together without the need for nails, screws or any additional hardware.  

PHYSICAL DESIGN CO at the Maker Faire 2008
FTP: Dan, you recently presented your company and some creations at the Maker Faire of MAKE magazine, a large gathering of hardware hackers and DIY enthusiasts in Austin, TX. Can tell us some more about this exhibition and the feedback you received?

DS: In October of 2008 the Physical Design Co., in collaboration with ShopBot Tools (an innovative manufacturer of user-friendly CNC machines) designed, fabricated and exhibited the ‘Austin Shed’ for the Maker Faire in Austin, TX.  This is the world’s first digitally fabricated shed.

The feedback we received from the Maker Faire attendees was incredible.  Most were simply amazed at how structurally strong the shed was without any nails, screws or hardware holding it together.  However, the most rewarding feedback we received was from children.  At the faire, we pulled a few of the ‘skin’ panels off to reveal the grid structure of the interlocking ribs so that visitors could understand how it was assembled.  What surprised us was that 10 year-old kids would pick up the removed parts and correctly replace them back on the shed without any knowledge of how the system worked.  We were delighted to find that our assembly process is intuitive enough that children could put it together!

FTP: How do you master the manufacturing process; who are your cooperation partners?

DS: The great thing about the Physical Design Co and our manufacturing process is that we don’t need to build any new large and energy-inefficient factories to produce our users’ designs.  In fact, the manufacturing infrastructure already exists worldwide – it’s the tens of thousands of individual CNC owners around the world whose machines are online.  These are our cooperation partners.

Through our web platform, these CNC owners become members of our distributed manufacturing network through which they can promote their existing and on-going services.  This is how we enable the users and designers on our web platform to have their structures locally manufactured – which greatly reduces delivery costs both in terms of money and energy use. 

FTP: What are the next steps for your company, and how do you expect to grow it in the coming months?

DS: This summer, in collaboration with ShopBot Tools, Make Magazine and Google SketchUp we’re hosting a competition called the Get Physical! Design Competition which will take place at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.  The top 3 winners will have their designs digitally fabricated using our web platform, assembled and showcased at the upcoming Maker Faire.  Keep an eye on our blog for more details over the next couple of months.

FTP: What are other trends you see with regard to mass customization?

DS: When answering this question I like to quote Eric von Hippel from his book, Democratizing Innovation:

“When the cost of high-quality resources for design and prototyping becomes very low, these resources can be diffused widely, and the allocation problem diminishes in significance.  The net result is and will be to democratize the opportunity to create.”

I think we’ll continue to see an increase in user-engagement not only in the design process but also in the production process of our built environment as the availability of digital fabrication equipment exponentially grows.  In addition I think we’re just beginning to understand the power of online user communities and crowd-sourcing.  Rather than just offering product mass customization to isolated individual users, we are starting to see that by enabling them to interact with each other through a web platform, their collective intelligence is boundless.

For more information, contact Daniel at dan@physicaldesignco.com

http://www.physicaldesignco.com/


http://www.physicaldesignco.com/blog/

27 10, 2008

Hard Copies: New Open Designs by Ronen Kadushin

By | 2018-06-14T12:53:15+00:00 Oktober 27th, 2008|Customization Trends, Design, Events, Furniture - Home, MC & Art, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

An exhibition at Appel Design Gallery, Berlin 1-22 Nov. 2008 — and an invitation to download all design and place it on your local CNC machine.

Exhibis at the Open Design Exhibition by Ronen Kadushin
Now we have Ponoko, eMachineshop, JuJups, Shapedays, etc to produce what ever come to our mind in an easy way. But still, at least I don’t have every day a nice idea for a great coffee table in my mind.

This is where Ronen Kadushin comes in. I wrote about this Berlin-based designer before. Ronen’s idea is to publish all his designs under a CC Creative Commons license( by-nc-sa). So whenever you have access to a CNC cutting facility, you can get his designs:

As Ronen describes: 

„Open Design products flow with an essential cultural wave: towards freer information, Web-based collaborations and open-source methods. In Open Design anyone can download and produce my designs for free. Open Designs encourage modification, redistribution, and direct contact with the designer. I would only ask producers to share with me revenues from commercial uses. This means that with no tooling investment, you can produce Open Design products independently.“

All object rely on a very clever 2D digital start point, which makes them easy to alter into new shapes and uses, and they are flat packed. “Hard copiesof the designs can be ordered from any CNC cutting facility that’s local to you, your consumers, or distributors. Ronen’s idea is that designs that typically live only a few years in the marketplace can live on and develop.

Still, at the same time, Ronen needs to earn some money. Generating fame and buzz and getting his name out is one of the intentions of the Open Design project. But he also produces some of his collections in high quality and exhibits (and sells) them in an annual exhibition at a Gallery in Berlin.

He says about his new exhibition: 

„This Open Design collection of lighting and furniture limited editions is playing a double role. As gallery pieces, they express my personal style: simple, effortless and humorous. But they also relate to wider cultural issues and offer a designer an alternative course to consumer products, especially relevant in economically troubled times.

There is a feeling about Open Design I would like to convey. Making products this way is, for me, mind clearing and fun. You can feel as good about the Open Design production process, its low environmental footprint, and what it stands for, as you do about the objects themselves.“


Context information:

– Freely download the Open Designs and more from www.ronen-kadushin.com
– Order them at Appel Design Gallery, Berlin, www.appel-design.com

Exhibition at:
Appel Design Gallery
Torstr. 114, 10119 Berlin, Germany
phone: +49 (0)30 32 51 81 60
info@appel-design.com

1 03, 2006

Pimp my IKEA: Bemz Furniture Customization

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:31+00:00 März 1st, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Furniture - Home, Long Tail, MC Alternatives|

Bemz_custom_ikeaGive your sofa a second chance.

Combine mass production and mass customization in a clever way — and you have a great business idea. This is exactly what Bemz, a Stockholm, Sweden, based company is doing. Founded three years ago, Bemz sells removable, washable slipcovers fitting the most popular models of IKEA sofas and chairs.

Bemz has chosen to focus on one specific competitive advantage: to offer their customers a unique product that they could not get easily in another way. The whole process is very lean and well crafted:

Products are sold exclusively on the internet, and all products are made to order. Customers choose from a huge selection of colors and patterns for the most popular IKEA sofas and armchair. Pricing is rather competitive compared what you would have to pay if you order these goods with a tailor, given that they have high quality fabrics only (Bemz is 100% private owned and not affiliated with IKEA).

Bemz focuses on the part of customization that is really important to customers: the design. To do this, they use a great standard platform: an IKEA sofa (given the market share of IKEA in Europe, this is a real standard platform). Bemz just produces a high-value upgrade for your sofa which you can „assemble“ by your own – no tools required.

But this is also a win-win situation for IKEA: Their products are getting more interesting and valuable for consumers, but IKEA can focus on their main skills (mass marketing, distribution and design), but does not has to bother with an exploding complexity of custom designs.

What could be improved: Given the strong focus on customization on Bemz’s web site, they could offer a bit more customization. While choice is not always valuable, for this product more fabric options could offer more value — given that this is a product for the after-sales market where people may have very specific needs for decoration. And with regard to Bemz‘ limited customization options today, the delivery time of four weeks seems to be rather long, given that the actual throughput time in manufacturing is probably very short.

But overall, I really liked this example as a very lean and clean mass customization offering. Just imagine what you could get if you combine Threadless‚ user innovation and design capabilities (their sub site nakedandangry.com has wonderful patterns – just made for sofas!) with Bemz‘ custom manufacturing skills and IKEA’s standard platform: this could become furniture mass customization 2.0.

22 02, 2006

New Special Issues and Web-Publications on Mass Customization and Open Innovation

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:36+00:00 Februar 22nd, 2006|Books, Clothing, Furniture - Home, General, Guest Articles, MC/OI on the Web, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Within the last weeks, several print or online journals have dedicated special issues to mass customization and open innovation. They contain some really great contributions on different aspects of these themes. So start browsing with this little collection:

WooddigestWood Digest – Mass Customization in the furniture industry. Wood Digest magazine is a monthly publication reaching over 51,000 woodworking professionals including those who manufacture cabinets, millwork and specialty wood products. The magazine provides global coverage of technical advances in equipment and supplies to assist its readers in overcoming productivity challenges.

The journal’s January 2006 issue is dedicated entirely to the topic of mass customization – and I highly recommend to browse though it and read these articles. Especially the opening article by Don Shultz provides a great background story and general analysis. Other articles report about special application, case studies form the furniture industry or IT support.

Read the whole issue here.

OsbookHow Open is the Future? A book on the Economic, Social & Cultural Scenarios inspired by Free and Open Source Software. This book offers a constructive and innovative look on the boundaries of intellectual property, as well as new and open forms of collaboration, not only situated in an academic and industrial context, but in musical and artistic spheres as well.

The book is released under a Creative Commons License – this means it is freely available online as full text — and presents an interdisciplinary perspective how open source spftware can serve as a role model for many more ideas beyond software.

From the book’s jacket:

„There are two reasons why the free and open-source software issue has become such an inspirational and powerful force today: the rise of the Internet and the growing tendency to protect all intellectual property. Internet technology made it possible to handle massive decentralized projects and irreversibly changed our personal communication and information research. Intellectual property, on the other hand, is a legal instrument which – due to recent excesses – became the symbol of exactly the opposite of what it had been developed for: the protection of the creative process. As a result, free-thinking programmers, scientists, artists, designers, engineers and scholars are daily trying to come up with new ways of creating and sharing knowledge. In 2003 Vrije Universiteit Brussel launched its university and industry network called CROSSTALKS, aimed at developing a new interdisciplinary exchange dynamic for key players in society. This first CROSSTALKS book provides an open, constructive platform for a wide range of researchers, lawyers, artists, journalists and activists invited to air their complementary – and sometimes contradictory – views and discuss future prospects for the driving forces of our time.“

Read more and get this really interesting book at http://crosstalks.vub.ac.be

Kpmg_1KPMG Study „Retailers Find That Customized Clothing Is the Right Fit: Apparel retailers are waking up to the reality of mass customization in clothing.“ This is the title of a KPMG study which is summarized on the „KPMG Consumer Markets Insider“ web site. Worthwhile analysis and some nice figures:

„Mass customization isn’t just about customer satisfaction, but also about pumping up margins. About 20 percent of the population wants custom apparel — and they’re willing to pay an extra 30 percent or more for it.“

„Retailers have been developing sizes based on standards that date back to body measurements taken before World War II. But the United States has become taller and heavier than previous generations, and only 10 to 20 percent of Americans fit the national standards.“

„About 54 percent of consumers have difficulty in finding clothes that fit and 68 percent don’t bother to try them on because they find it such an unpleasant experience. Retailers that provide consumers with the ability to customize their apparel size, could earn up to 25 percent more per purchase.“

Read the whole story here.

PomontlyPO Monthly is a website for people interested in operations management. They regularly run special theme issues, and the latest was dedicated to mass customization. Topics include a general overview and discussion, a look on MC web design, and a great case study on mass customization in architecture. See the full issue here.

The Manufacturer, another online magazine for the manufacturing community, recently run a focus article on manufacturing, too. Pamela Derringer reports on general mass customization issues and explains the systems of Dell and LEGO in more detail.

IjfmsThe International Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems just issued a special issue on mass customization. Number 4 of Volume 16, guest-edited by Ashok Kumar and published by Springer, has four long academic papers on different mass customization aspects: Mass Customization: Metrics and Modularity, by Ashok Kumar; Mass Customization: Reflections on the State of the Concept, by Frank T. Piller; Process Variety Modeling for Process Configuration in Mass Customization: An Approach Based on Object-Oriented Petri Nets with Changeable Structures, by Jianxin (Roger) Jiao, Lianfeng Zhang and Kannan Prasanna; Mass Customization in Videotape Duplication and Conversion: Challenges of Flexible Duplication Systems, Fast Delivery, and Electronic Service, by Gregory R. Heim. Check the abstracts of all papers here.

However, to read the full text, you have to pay a VERY heavy price for each paper, so I do not advertise this more as it just supports an old and outdated business model (but the papers are worth it and great contributions to the field!). Check if your local university library has subscribed to the journal or if you find a full text database with its content.

Talking about outdated: The issue officially has the date „October 2004“, which is strange as I wrote my contribution for this particular issue in summer 2005. There are probably good reasons of the publisher for this, even if these are beyond the understanding of their customers. But this is just another reason why open access publishing as proposed in the Crosstalks book mentioned before is a more sustainable model for the future.

OscarFinally, a special issue on mass customization in GERMAN LANGUAGE only: OSCAR, eine hoch professionelle Studenteninitiative an der Uni Köln, hat ihren neusten OSCAR Trend Newsletter unter das Schwerpunktthema Mass Customization gestellt. Die im Web verfügbare Ausgabe enthält viele spannende Beiträge:

Mass Customization: Definition und Charakteristika von Detlef Schoder und Stefan Grasmugg geben eine Einführung in das Themengebiet und stellen einige der entscheidenden Merkmale heraus.

Exklusive Meisterwerke – vom Massenprodukt zum Unikat Professor Bruhnke ist Geschäftsführer der BMW M GmbH, einer 100%igen Tochter der BMW AG. Er ist neben den M Fahrzeugen und dem Fahrertraining auch für den Bereich BMW Individual verantwortlich – die wirkliche Individualisierung im Hause BMW (jenseits von Mass Customization). Bruhnkes Beitrag stellt die Historie und das aktuelle Angebot von BMW Individual vor und gibt einen Ausblick in die Zukunft.

Mass Customization: Prinzipien und Erfolgsfaktoren. Mein Artikel in diesem Newsletter beschreibt einige Mechanismen und Erfolgsfaktoren von Mass Customization.

Von der Mass Customization (MC) zur Seriellen Unikatfertigung (SU). Kristin Müller ist Geschäftsführerin des Möbelherstellers InVIDO GmbH. Die dort praktizierte „serielle Unikatsfertigung“ ist ein Modell von Mass Customization in der Möbelindustrie. Müller beschreibt aus praktischer Sicht, wie sich Mass Customization in ihrer Branche darstellt und welche künftigen Entwicklungen sie für möglich hält.

Mass Customization – Kundenwunsch vs. Massenramsch von Nils Holle, Trend Recherche der OSCAR GmbH. Während seiner dreimonatigen Recherchetätigkeit für das Magazin hat er unterschiedliche Tendenzen und Strömungen der Mass Customization kennen gelernt. Vom Standpunkt des Beobachters zeigt er, mit dem unvoreingenommenen Blick des Verbrauchers, Grenzen dieses Themas auf.