17 02, 2014

Impressions from the MCPC 2014 in Aalborg!

By | 2018-06-14T06:33:36+00:00 Februar 17th, 2014|Customization Trends, Events, MC/OI on the Web, MCPC2014|

The past week were a highlight for every mass customization enthusiast as our colleagues from Aalborg University hosted this year’s edition of the MCPC Conference. We were there, of course, and, as always, a lot of tweeting and image-sharing took place. We will post more about some hot topics of the conference within the next days. Until then, here are some great impressions and voices from attendees some of you might recognize…

 

aalborgaalborg2

 

8 07, 2013

Amoonic Continues to Excell in Custom Jewellery, Pulled In Huge Investment

By | 2018-06-14T06:46:54+00:00 Juli 8th, 2013|Cases-Industrial, Design, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

AmoonicLast year at pretty much this time we published an interview with Sabine Linz of Amoonic, a company offering customized jewellery from all price ranges online. Fortunately, Amoonic has not suffered the same fate that many startups do, making critical mistakes and disappearing after a short period of existance. In fact, Amoonic just announced that Business Angel Marlon Ikels, the man behind galleryy.net, has invested a six-digit amount into the future expansion of the company. You can download the official press release here (in German).

Sabine_linzThis gave us the opportunity to interview Sabine once again, asking about the development of the past year and the future of mass customized jewellery.

FTP: Sabine, it has been about a year since our last
interview about Amoonic. How have things developed since then?

SL: In the
meantime we broadened our designer product range by a huge variety of jewellery
pieces. In addition to that, the technology in the background was enhanced a
lot. For example an open configurator was added to simplify the customization process
for our customers. Another example is the new 3D product preview. We developed
some great cooperations within the jewellery online market. Besides we tested a
lot on our website and developed a new system for producing jewellery in a
digital way.

FTP: How do you see the market for mass customized
goods today?

SL: I think,
today mass customized goods are not simply a trend anymore, you can find them
everywhere and people love them. Customization is now a well-established
approach and customized goods have become more or less mainstream. People nowadays
expect to be able to customize their products.

FTP: Can you go into a bit of detail on what you
want to do with the huge investment you got? What are your plans?

SL: Since a lot
of work on the technology side was done over the last year we are in the lucky
position to be able to invest most of the money in Marketing. We like to see
Amoonìc expand more and more to be internationally known as soon as possible.

FTP: You mentioned that Amoonic now offers
individually crafted jewellery on request. Can you tell us which diamond dreams
you can make a reality?

SL: In
principle, everything is possible. Our motto is: “If you can dream it, you can
do it”. But of course, any technical details have to be considered J . Our customers enjoy the freedom to
make their dreams come true and our designers are ready to assist them in case
of questions. More and more people use this opportunity and also the B2B sector
is highly interested in purchasing customized goods for their clients.

FTP: Any tips you can give entrepreneurs who want to
venture into any niche of mass customized products or services?

SL: Keep
smiling, be smart and exhaustless. Honestly, it is important not only to focus
on a configurator. Show all products on your web presence, give examples and
don´t let the user think. Furthermore, in my opinion, an extraordinary customer
support is more than a requirement today!

FTP: Are you looking for any specialists to expand
your team within the next time?

SL: We are
always looking for specialists. Good people are hard to find. Our new partner
and Business Angel, Marlon Ikels, is an ecommerce expert and we are more than
happy to have him in our team. Among others, he is founder of www.galleryy.net. He´s great and it is always good to get more
knowledge. We love to work with him.

 More about Amoonic on www.amoonic.de

9 04, 2013

[Featured Research] Technology Innovation Management Review on Local Open Innovation

By | 2018-06-14T06:47:50+00:00 April 9th, 2013|MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

TIMR_logoThis month's edition of Technology Innovation Management Review focusses on Local Open Innovation. There are some really interesting articles featured in this issue, which is available as a PDF file from the official website as well. It especially provides great background information on the "Seeks Solutions" (or "problem conference", as I use to call it) approach!!! To experience this method live, participate at the ISPIM Seeks Solutions!

3 04, 2013

[Interview] Matt Peterson of Big Shot Bikes: Customizing the Fixed Gear Trend

By | 2018-06-14T06:48:02+00:00 April 3rd, 2013|Cases-Consumer, Interview, MC/OI on the Web|

BigshotbikesWith plenty of bling and over-featuring of many products, in many industries now a counter-trend has started to emerge: "back to basics", advocating simplicity over sheer amounts of features.

This also has happend in the bike industry. While traditional bikes with many gears are certainly still in high demand, the opposite side of the scale has a growing fanbase as well: The single-gear bike, or the "Fixie". Being a popular and trendy product, it was just a question of time until somebody specialized in offering customized fixies to a growing customer base.

Matt Peterson Big Shot BikesOne such vendor is Big Shot Bikes. The Fort Collins, CO based company has been founded and is beeing run by Matt Peterson who we met for an interview on this special sector of the mass customization market and his role in it, his views on MC in general and the benefits of only having one gear.

FTP: Matt, you are the owner and founder of Big Shot Bikes.
Can you tell our reader a bit about yourself, your background and your passion
for quality bikes?

MP: Well, growing up in Colorado I had always been
active in the outdoors; traditionally I am a software engineer by trade and I
had worked for quite some time for a large telecom company. Having rode out the
tech and telecom bubble, I had become burnt out on the corporate
environment.  So in 2009, I saw an opportunity
to merge two of my passions, software and cycling. I had noticed a trend
emerging in single speed bikes with bright colors that people had built up
themselves. I
thought this was a natural fit for customization. With a small
initial investment, I dove in, leveraging my skills in software and ecommerce
to create a company and brand that is doing quite well and gaining market
share. 

FTP: Big Shot Bikes offers customized bicycles. While there is
competition on that market, what is special about your bikes?

MP: Hands down the most appealing part about our bikes
is the customization and sense of style that comes with owning one of our
bikes.

People love the opportunity to create a design that
matches their own personality. We get quite a few emails from customers telling
us how they have been complimented on their bike and how they take a sense of
pride in the color scheme that they created.

FTP: What makes a single speed or fixed gear bike so
desirable? Does it not limit you to have only one gear?

MP: Single speed bikes have become a recent cultural
phenomenon. Sure, there are some limitations to having one gear, but there are
also advantages. The simplicity of going back to basics is what is drawing many
riders. No gears to tune or clicking derailleur to worry about.  This low maintenance factor means you can
just get on and ride.

FTP: Who is your main customer group? Are these bikes just for
the younger ones amongst us?

MP: The majority of our customers are definitely
younger, mostly college aged. But we sell to all age groups. In fact, we recently
sold a bike to an 81 year old ex-racer in Arizona. So really our bikes are
for anyone with a sense of style and just wants a fun bike to ride, no matter
what age or background.

FTP: Can you outline your customization, ordering and delivery
in a few sentences? How does everything work together?

MP: Sure, our system is designed to be fully
integrated with our inventory management system. If a color or part is
available on the build tool, that means it is currently in stock.  Once an item becomes out of stock, it
immediately disappears from the customization tool; this is critical in being
able to effectively fill orders. Once an order is captured, our inventory
system is updated and the order goes through a series of status change.  Customers will receive three notifications:
one to confirm the order, another to let them know the bike is being
built
.  The final notification is
integrated into our shipping software and a final notification containing the
tracking information for the bike. Lastly we integrate right in with our
shipping software and tracking provided once the bike is shipped. We also have
the ability to track and attach customer support tickets to orders that have
shipped just in case we have any issues once the customer receives the bike.

FTP: Especially interesting for our non-US readers: Do you
deliver worldwide?

MP: We do. We ship to just about any country that
FedEx will service via international economy air. We have shipped to most of
Europe and a few more exotic locations such as Egypt and South Africa. Granted,
the shipping charges are steep, averaging about $200 USD for international
shipping.

FTP: What do you think will the future hold for the mass
customization landscape? Will it stay a trend, become a standard or even redefine
how we sell and buy products in the future?

MP: Honestly, I feel it will stay a trend, or more
appropriately a new established niche in commerce. Mass customization is  ideal for direct to consumer sales model.
But
I feel that traditional product manufacture and distribution will remain the
dominant form of commerce while mass customization will supplement it.

FTP: What are your plans for the coming five years?

MP: If the next five years are anything like the last
three years, we will continue to see strong growth in both our brand and
business. We plan to diversify our product line offering more bike models and
styles. From a technology standpoint, we have invested in HTML5 becoming the standard
in web based development
and will continue to stay on top of technology that
will allow us to offer the best customization experience we can.

FTP: Some of our readers might be looking for a job
opportunity in your branch. Are you hiring?

MP: We hire seasonal bike builders each spring/summer,
but these positions tend to be filled by college students looking for temporary
work.

But where we do have significant opportunities is with
international distribution
. We are continually looking for individuals or
companies that feel they could effectively sell and distribute our bicycles in
their country or region. We have designed our customization tool and website to
be easily translated into almost any language. So the opportunity exists to
establish international distribution points and country specific versions of
our site.

Thank you very much for the interview, Matt! It will be interesting to see whether your predictions regarding MC as a trend hold true in the future or not. In any case, best of luck for your business!

And here are some really nice impressions of single gear bikes and the configuration process (even on iPad) in the official video demo:

 

Big Shot Bikes – iPad Bike Customization from Chris Bourke on Vimeo.

10 01, 2013

Competivation Consulting Founded to Meet Innovation-, Technology- and Strategy Consulting Needs of Industry

By | 2018-06-14T06:48:44+00:00 Januar 10th, 2013|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), MC/OI on the Web, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

I frequently receive requests by companies for innovation counseling and consulting on open innovation, mass customizuation, and technology management.  While we do not perform any consulting for individual companies with our RWTH-TIM institute, there are a number of opportunities for consulting.

Competivation Consulting & EducationTo meet the needs of industry, together with an experienced executive consultant, Prof. Hans-Gerd Servatius,  we have founded Competivation Consulting, a dynamic innovation and strategy management consulting company from innovators for innovators. 

Combining decades of innovation research, teaching and consulting, COMPETIVATION's team of experts supports your company with

  • Management consulting in innovation and technologymanagement,
  • Strategy and innovation workshops,
  • Strategic and technology roadmapping,
  • Trend analysis and strategic foresight,
  • Technology, market and benchmarking analysis,
  • Implementation counseling,
  • Networking with intermediaries and IT-partners,
  • Executive education programs and corporate speaking

Special areas of expertise are open innovation, customer co-creation, mass customization, but also the development of comprehensive strategies for innovation and technology managememt.

ServatiusProf. Hans-Gerd Servatius has met our Editor in Chief for a brief interview, outlining the USPs of Competivation Consulting and what can be done especially for the open innovation strategist.

CG: Some of our readers will know you as the author of your latest book, touching a pressing matter of our times, Smart Energy. Can you tell a bit about yourself and your experience in technology and innovation management consulting?

GS: We created the term technology and innovation management in the early 1980s at Arthur D. Little, where I led the German TIM practice. For me this was a great opportunity, to put the concepts, which I had developed in my Ph.D. thesis on strategic management of technology into practical work. During the following decades I tried to anticipate the next TIM waves like corporate venture management (which has a lot in common with open innovation), process and business model innovation, knowledge management as well as sustainability, to mention some examples. Today I think technology and innovation management is more important than ever and looking back to its roots helps to better understand the future.

CG: You have over 30 years of experience as a professional consultant, having been anywhere from an entrance position to partner level and managing director in internationally reknown firms. What sets Competivation apart from the existing competition?

GS: I would like to mention three points. First: Competivation is a young firm with very experienced founders. This helps us to create a unique culture. Second: The founders have an excellent reputation as scientists and management consultants. We have a strong international network. Based on these competencies we can be more innovative in our field than many others. And third: Our combination of executive education with consulting offers possibilities for differentiation that satisfy the needs of many clients, who are looking for more sustainable results.

CG: Our readers are especially interested in open innovation. Do you see OI to be the method of choice to solve many of the (technical) problems that companies usually struggle with solving on their own? Why?

GS: Open innovation has proven that it can generate great ideas and solve many problems. Roughly ten years after the term has been created the experience of leading firms with different OI methods is growing. One of the reasons for this success is the increased connectivity potential of a company, its stakeholders and non-obvious others, who can play a role in the innovation processes. A challenge many companies are still facing today is the integration of open integration into an emerging enterprise 2.0 concept. This means that both internal and external innovation must become more cooperative.

CG: Do you think that corporate culture is key element in (remodeling) innovation management, as part of an integrated approach? If so, can you give some examples from your experience?

GS: Corporate Culture is clearly a key element for innovation. It always was and new forms of innovation require cultural adaptations. The cultural challenge today is to find the right balance between closed and open innovation, individual talents and cooperative success as well as trust in others and securing intellectual property. The answer is not black or white. Success formulas are more complex and need to be tailored to specific situations. In our assignments we help organizations and their managers to improve the specific competencies needed to compete in this new era of innovation. An example is an international automotive company, which we support on its way to become a provider of mobility solutions. This requires new business models combining open and closed innovation as well as improved leadership skills as orchestrators of different partners.

CG: Can you give a little insight into your network? What is Competivation`s special competence mix?

GS:  Our network consists of partners in the academic world, complementary service providers and experienced practitioners, who work together in a trust-based way. One example is the Business Transformation Academy, which is sponsored by SAP. On their international conference in October in Budapest we presented our new study of a changing energy sector based on innovative IT enabled business models. If I have a special competence it perhaps is to put technology and innovation management not only into a strategic, organizational and cultural context but also to translate new findings from complexity theory into practical solution sets. In a volatile world this is what many clients are looking for.

 

GermanWhile Competivation Consulting´s core market is the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland), we are also open for assignments beyond these ountries. You will find more informationen on Competivation and our service portfolio at www.competivation.de (in German language only!) or contact us directly!


18 12, 2012

[Market Watch] CowCrowd: Wear Your Friends On Customizable Wooden Tags

By | 2018-06-14T06:49:15+00:00 Dezember 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

CowCrowd_3In conjunction with the MC2012 conference on mass customization in June we reported on CowCrowd,  a customization project by Viennese media agency cyLEDGE. Since our posting back then was in German only (as was the conference), here is what CowCrowd does. 

CowCrowd.com is an online configurator where users can create small wooden pendants with individual messages. These messages contain text or symbols and even photos, which can be uploaded an placed on the „cow tags“. As a special feature, users can directly connect to Facebook to engrave the profile pictures of their friends and family onto the tags.

cyLEDGE, being an innovative media agency, also does its best to make the project as customer-interactive as possible.  Users are invited to share their designs and use cases on Facebook to inspire others and spark new ideas. Via social networks the company stays in close contact with its fans and posts regularly on new infos and funny internet memes, most of them cow themed.

Now, part of being a customer-centric venture is to closely listen to customer wishes and to adapt one's own processes and portfolio to make the one individual happy that really counts: your client. Hence, for the holiday season CowCrowd created two new shapes to give the users more alternatives for their individual pendant. The new shapes are a Christmas tree for last minute presents and a simple round tag to meet the user's demands for more neutral forms than the classic „cow tags“.

CowCrowd_1

Provided, when we first heard about CowCrowd, we were a bit hasitant about wearing a tag formed like a cow's head. However, when we got a chance to see and feel them live on the MC2012 conference, we were all charmed by their cuteness and surface quality. They certainly make a nice gift and there is no real risk in giving it a try yourself since the customizable pendants are available for under 5 EUR.

More about CowCrowd on the official project website

23 10, 2012

[Interview] One Just One: Unique 3D Printed, Very Individual Jewelry by Generative Design

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:07+00:00 Oktober 23rd, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

Sivam Krish, one of the veterans of the mass customization movement, is back with a new venture, building on generative design. HIs idea: a new toolkit to customize individualized jewelry.

This is not a new category In the old days, wealthy people went to their jeweler of choice and ordered a piece of earrings or such, matching their individual taste. With the concept of mass customization, customized jewelery has become a bit more affordable and accessible to "the masses". Usually, customization in this sector happens by picking a base model (online) and then changing materials, gems, color and so on. A number of high-profile startups have been busy in this domain.

Now, there is a new approach on the market, though. One Just One has just published their new concept on kickstarter where they hope to raise some investment capital to make their ideas reality. 

Onejustone_productsThe idea sounds fairly interesting. Instead of altering a few numbers of typical base designs for a ring or a necklace, they apply a technology which they call gererative design to generate 3D printed jewelry which is as unique as possible: they only sell one piece of each variation. 

We were lucky to get Sivam Krish of One Just One to give us an online interview and tell more about the idea behind the venture and how it is different from the existing competition.

FTP: Sivam, can you give some general outline of what One Just One is, and why it stands out from competition?

SK: Ok, we are trying here to reverse the influenced of the industrial revolution – which commodotized products. Before that, ladies would go to a family jewellery and say I want something like that but made like this. The jewellery himself would have some prototype types in his mind. We call these prototypes genetic models – but they are computable models.

One of the great disadvantages in design is that there is no way to map design information except in terms of geometry color or texture. Genetic modeling allow us to map products parametrically – which then means we can map at a very high level as what people desire, so it is going to open up new possibilities.

We should be able to do
what amazon does with books, in terms of not only what customers are likely to
like, but be able to generate from previous purchase patterns designs that are
they are more likely to like; that is, generate designs within the envelope of
consumer preference.

Before mass production a wide variety of designs emerged from the craft tradition, and it evolved. Only mass production created a fetish about  a single representation of design. We take a genetic view of design – in that we look at designs as belonging to families, as biologist do.
 
FTP: Can you go a bit in depth about the technical side of the design process? Can the potential customer influence the design process? If so, how much?

SK: We think that designers have a new role. That is to create genetic representations of designs rather than a single instance of it. Once this representation is made, we use genoform to create 1000s of variations, but many of them may be not manufacturerable or desirable. We leave it to the designer to use their expert judgment and taste to set the bounds of variations.

The buyer then selects within such bounds. One just One is a designers brand – and we believe that a good part of design is about selection.Evolutionary biologist would agree with us here. So the role of the designer is critical here. But unlike before within a larger range of design possibilities buyers may choose according to their own taste.

We are not in favor of customers designing. The rest of the 3D printing community may be into that, but we are not. We belive that the next generation of designers have a role to give designs form and meaning but gentic form not static immutable form.
 
FTP: You are getting your starting capital through a kickstarter campaign. What are your plans for the future if the business model heads off?

SK: We have set a very small maximum amount of 3000$ and a maximum number of products to 400 – which we can meet. I am a great believer in lean bushiness model and not wish to subject this little venture to the trauma that capital brings. Yet we need to raise some amout of capital. The less investment we have the more we can share with out design community. Out intention is to make it the most attractive platform for the most enlighten and talented designers who are willing to take leaps that others cannot contemplate.

How we are going to do this, I really do not know.

FTP: Thanks a lot for the interview, Sivam! I am sure you do already have some ideas how to approach these rather ambitious goals and I am looking forward to keep our readers updated about its future development.

More Information about One Just One can be found on their official website as well as from their ongoing kickstarter campaign.

22 10, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 19): Beaniebees: Custom Shirts, Sweatters, Ties, Bags…

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:15+00:00 Oktober 22nd, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Nice Idea, Slightly Limited Solution Space

Personalized fashion is a great way to express yourself. It's also very well suited to add a touch of "I really though about it" to any gift you give. And especially for children it's a good opportunity to break out of the usual spiderman-look.

Amongst others, German online-customizer Beaniebee has exactly that approach covered for you. Offering fairly easy personalization of everything from t-shirts for kids and adults, ties, sweathsirts, bags, even teddy bears.

Their easy to use configurator lets you place both custom text and images on your product of choice, however – and this is where I find the process to be lacking – the amount of images that they offer is relatively limited. There are some theme groups like animals, seasons and so on but each one has a fairly small number of actual images, and the ones availible are often not too creative.

Of course, you can upload your own photo to place on your child's new t-shirt. But from a technical point of view, their configuration space could have contained a little more diversity.

Beaniebee 
Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

28 09, 2012

Interview: Glubal: A configurator for university-level education to solve the complexity of choice of study programs

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:46+00:00 September 28th, 2012|Customization Trends, Interview, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization, Service Customization|

Glubal logoWhether that be as a regular student, starting to dive into a chosen field of knowledge, or as a professional, taking the next career step by gaining additional skills, creating a matching a student`s very own situation of life  is very important.

However, there always have been a dis-connect: too many offers, and too much confusion. Since more than ten years, I am talking about the idea of an "education configurator".

Now this configurator finally came true.

Glubal wants to make flexible, individual university-level learning happen . The venture is just about to go live with their online configuration system and represents an educational network, connected to an online configurator.

Very simply put, learning interests (to-be students, professionals seeking promotion etc) will be enabled to configure a list of academic programs by the means of the configurator frontend. The programs offered are provided by the universities and other education facilities connected to the glubal network. The opportunity to filter avilible offers to match one`s own life situation best sounds like a compelling idea in theory.

 

Global configurator

Glubal Configurator: Beta version. Click to enlarge

Glubal results

 

Marc DrünerProfessor Marc Drüner, glubal CEO and partner at trommsdorff & drüner consultants, kindly agreed to engage in an online interview and explain the concept in more detail.

FTP: Professor Drüner, first. Congratulations to this great idea and realization! You have created glubal as an
intermediary to support a new kind of individual studying. Can you tell our
readers a bit more about the concept behind glubal and what makes it unique?

MD: Our brand glubal stands for global university network. We provide an online
platform (www.glubal.com )
making accredited study and training opportunities available online to students
and business in collaboration with international universities.

The idea of
glubal
derives from the background of the Bologna Reform ten years ago. The
establishment of the common credit point system (ECTS) and the
three-cycle-degree (Bachelor, Master & Doctor) in Europe makes a more
flexible and more international study possible.

As professor at the Steinbeis Hochschule Berlin for ten
years and director of an international management consultancy, I have gained
insights into economic as well as academic life. There is a problem on both
sides: Even though the employment market demands increasing flexibility from
employees and employers in terms of education and training, the current
mainstream educational system is just too rigid for many people and does not
support life-long learning. With glubal, we want to tailor study programs to
people’s individual, unique lifestyles. This is the way to ensure a smooth
entry into the jobs market and to guarantee chances of promotion by combining
working with studying for a qualification.

glubal’s USPs are individuality, flexibility and
internationality
. The unique feature of our concept is the glubal study
configurator (https://www.glubal.com/en/glubal-configurator ) . Dependent on a student’s personal requirements,
fields of interest, personal budget and chosen method of study, every course
component of our global university network can be combined flexibly and
individually with other components from elsewhere to create a study program
lasting as long as personal circumstances dictate. We ensure that the module
combination selected by a student will lead to a recognized degree.

FTP: Do you consider glubal’s target group to be more the
regular student, trying to go a more flexible way of studying or the “lifelong
learner”, the professional aiming to get additional qualifications?

MD: There is no conflict between students and
professionals for glubal in terms of the target group. Our service is aimed,
above all, at graduates and employees interested in promotion. We also offer an
attractive alternative for current students who need more flexibility and
individuality in their study.

Besides potential students, companies and colleges can
also benefit from our service. For companies, glubal offers not only a whole
new way to access the talents of tomorrow, but also the connection to the
university sector. For colleges and universities, we make it possible to take
on a growing number of students, to fill more places on existing modules, to increase
international brand recognition and improve access to business.

FTP: Establishing a network that allows to (more or less)
freely combine courses from different universities and nations with each other
sounds like a really challenging task, especially given the fact that the
awarding of academic degrees is regulated by national law. How do you ensure compatibility
between all these different modules?

MD: The given background
of Bologna Reform I mentioned before is the corner stone of mutual recognition
of credit points and academic degrees between colleges and universities in
different countries. People have been working on a more transparent and
compatible education system in the international context since more than ten
years.

I think we have reasons to believe that this trend will carry on and
evolve further in the future and that glubal will be able to promote this
process. However, glubal will not interfere with the given administrative and
approval processes for academic modules at our glubal partner universities. The
degree-granting universities stay in the driver-seat and stay completely free
to define, which modules of other universities they do accept under their given
examination regulation.

FTP: The Bologna Process intended to do what could become a
reality with glubal: Allow to study internationally, not just in your country,
and in a way that works best for your interests. Yet, many politicians,
academics and students say that the ideas of Bologna have not been implemented
well enough to really work. What makes the glubal approach more promissing to
achieve better results in comparison?

MD: Of course there are still
dozens of problems to solve even after ten years reform, especially in terms of
the compatibility between the qualities of modules in different universities.
But you cannot deny that the mobility of students inside Europe has greatly
increased at the Erasmus program for instance. We believe in the vision of a
more tolerant education system in the future in the scope of Bologna Reform.
With glubal as an educational initiative we would like to contribute to the
process of harmonization between universities and help shaping a more flexible
education system in the future.

FTP: The idea of highly customized academic learning is not
new. Until today one of the great bottlenecks has been the lack of a
well-designed configurator, allowing (future) students to select the right
modules for their individual life situation and learning goal. Can you tell a
bit about the process in which your clients will select their individual
courses? Are they being guided or just presented with a configurator?

MD: We have been working the whole time on the more simplified and clearer
configuration process. Basically, a student only needs
to visit our online platform, choose his preferred subjects and other options
in our configurator and he will get the suggested study combination from the
system. Of course we also offer personal study consultancy through free hotline
with our professional study advisor, who will accompany the applicants along
the whole way of application.

Our first course begins this
autumn and the application has already started. Our glubal team will do the
best to cover the individual needs of our applicants. With the further
expansion of our global university network, we will be able to offer even more
flexible configurations in the future.

FTP: Developing a system that, if it works, could do a lot
to make flexible life long learning a reality is certainly no easy process. Can
you tell a bit about how you worked on designing the system? Did you work
closely with students and lecturers to get an idea of what they really desire
in a sort of customer co-creation?

MD: I am director of an international
management consultancy and professor at the Steinbeis Hochschule Berlin for ten
years. This kind of career combination enables the possibility to exchange
opinions with students, lecturers and companies for me. I have realized that
there are huge demands from both economy and academy in increasing flexibility
of the education system. The idea of glubal derives exactly from these demands.

FTP: Studying for a master's degree takes about five years,
often more. glubal is a private profit venture and as such is subject to the
laws of the market. How can you guarantee that students will be able to
complete their studies as planned in case of, say, glubal (or HighEd Solutions)
becoming insolvent?

MD: glubal is an aggregator of
studies and does not grand degrees. glubal students will enroll in and enter
study contracts with the chosen universities, and earning real credit points as
every other normal student. In this sense, they don’t carry any market risks in
terms of the possible fluctuation of glubal’s profitability.

FTP: Can you tell about your network of educational
institutions (universities, online course academies,…)? Which and how many
partners does glubal have so far and where are they from, geographically?

MD: glubal stands for global
university network. We have been in contact with universities from the USA, Great
Britain, Australia, Turkey, France, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Chile and of course
the so-called DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Many of them
are already official members and many other have given very positive feedback. We
are optimistic that our network will successfully expand to these regions. We
have also planned the market entry in BRIC countries in the future, starting
with Asia in 2013.

FTP: glubal offers scholarships as well. Can you tell a bit
more about these?

MD: We have already announced
the first three scholarship students for a bachelor’s, a master’s and a
doctoral degree at one of our first partner universities, the Steinbeis School
of Management in Berlin. With the growing membership of our university network,
applicants can expect more attractive scholarships at glubal in the future.

FTP: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see glubal
heading in the next 10 years and what do you think can (and should) still be
improved about the system/process as it is right now? Can we expect more
integrated services in glubal in the future?

MD: Like I mentioned before, we
are now already active in many countries. The intention of internationalization
will increase in the future. We have already planned the market entry in the
BRIC countries (Brasil, Russia, India and China) in 2013. Of course there are
still a lot to improve in every aspect, for example a bigger university
network, more personalized configuration, more optimized platform usability and
so on. The driving force in our team is to provide high quality education with
unprecedented flexibility to all students of the world.

FTP: Professor Drüner, thank you very much for the insights into the concept on glubal. Much success!!

16 08, 2012

The MC Graveyard: Ideas that did not make it: YouTailor & Shirts Onthefly

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:26+00:00 August 16th, 2012|Clothing, Customization Trends, Failures and Flaws, General, MC Graveyard, MC/OI on the Web|

Graveyard_by_flicr_CC_open_LicenseAlthough mass customization has proved to offer great opportunities to companies of all sizes, there also have been quite some failures. We will try to look into some of the companies that did not make it in a new series of posts.

And there are many of these failures! When conducting the research for the MC500 study, we learned that over the period of just one year, 17% of our original sample population went out of business. Analyzing the failure reasons showed that these startups on the one hand face "common" challenges of startups like not progressing out of the bootstrapping phase into a scalable business due to undercapitalization, wrong investment policy, overconfidence, and an insufficient business model as well as problems within the team, such as the loss of key employees.

But on the other, there are two more specific reasons for failures of MC companies, according to our research:

First, difficulties encountered by the studied MC companies may be ascertained to possible inadequacies of their toolkits. Many of the toolkits that we studied do not follow the design principles suggested as success factors by previous research: Only 55% instantly visualize consumer input, less than 20% of vendors make use of peer input in the design process, 61% do not provide information on progress of purchasing process. Only 22% allow customers to share their creations with others, just to mention a few shortcomings. The reality of toolkits clearly falls behind the academic research on design parameters of successful toolkits, suggesting a large shortcoming in transferring research into practice.
   
Secondly, problems in making mass customization work may also lay elsewhere. In an exploratory survey of 68 entrepreneurs and consultants active in the MC business (conducted in Oct. 2009), for instance, we discovered that detecting customer idiosyncratic needs and creating flexible fulfillment processes are considered as more serious concerns (average score=4.0/5 and 3.9/5) than creating toolkits that support the sales process (average score=3.5/5). This  research, the preliminary results of the Customization500 study, and many interactions with managers during case-study based research show that profiting from mass customization is not an easy task!

Two current examples have been the market for custom tailored men's shirts. The German MC blog egoo.de recently reported on two consecutive insolvencies of companies believed to be promising ventures.

First company to be hit by bankruptcy was German start-up YouTailor, one of the leading entrepreneurs in the field of online custom tailors. Despite a number of potent backers like Holtzbrinck Ventures, Tengelmann Ventures and myphotobook, YouTailor CEO Michael Urban had to file insolvency mid-June caused by financial irregularities, as eggo.de reports.

Just two weeks later, another mass-custom shirt company, SHIRTS ONTHEFLY, had to strike colors or, as egoo.de quotes the company's announcement, to declare "the mission to make high-quality bespoke shirts available for everybody" a failure. Very sad indeed, seeing how they had announced to team up with Berlin-based venture Upcload, enabling customers to measure themselves via webcam capture technology.

May there be a trend indicating that custom tailored shirts are not very high in demand? Or may it be more likely that these two did not do one of the most important things when establishing a new MC company: Seek qualified expert advise and connect with other founders and MC entrepreneurs to share experiences.

Egooo.de is speculating that the heavy use of Groupon may have facilitated the bankruptcy of YouTailor. No other company in the mass customization domain has used Groupon so often, sometimes with discounts of 50% (which makes no sense at all for me if I consider the economics of mass customization manufacturing — there you wanted stable sales, no sudden peaks!)

For the full stories about YouTailor and SHIRTS ONTHEFLY, head over to egoo.com by blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang!

6 08, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 13): Alphabetplates.com: Individual and fun from breakfast to dinner

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:34+00:00 August 6th, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: The right plates to complement your customized food

I have been posting about customized food in the past. From mymuesli to chocri, personalized food is one of the large trends in mass customization. However, if you chose to individualize what you eat, you should be as picky about what you eat it from.

Alphabetplates offers exactly that, at least for the younger (or young at heart!) amongst us. Utilizing their simple yet efficient configurator your can personalize a number of really nice plates, placemats, lunchboxes and waterbottles. Depending on the chosen base model you can add your (child's) name, an individually configurable face (you should try that one out!) and more details. Conclusion: a nice product line to spark the interest of the next generation of customization researchers.

All rights reserved!

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.

24 07, 2012

MC2012 Recap: Custom pasta live on location by Pasterie

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:50+00:00 Juli 24th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

2012-06-29 11.09.01A while ago I posted about Pasterie, a promissing mass customization company offering individualized pasta.  At the MC2012 conference their team gave us a great live demonstration of what they are able to produce.

While definetly the novelty of custom pasta ordered online is much larger than a customized meal prepared in fornt of you, their demonstration was a nice blend of pasta-cooking expertise and aesthetical design.

The live event however provided a good "offline configuration" experience as it (still ) is not possible to transport taste via the internet. But to see how they solve this problem, head over to their website or facebook page.

Here are some impressions of their live performance at MC2012.

2012-06-29 09.30.20

2012-06-29 11.08.52

2012-06-29 13.17.23

 

19 07, 2012

Interview: Sabine Beck of Amoonic: Custom Jewelry for Every Budget

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:58+00:00 Juli 19th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Interview, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

Copyright Amoonic, www.amoonic.de, all rights reserved!Amoonic has been a presenter in the startup panel of the MC2012 conference in Salzburg. Founded in 2011, they are striving to give the market something that it does not already have in excess: customized jewelry at an affordable price

"Affordable" is, however, a rather relative criteria, depending on one's own budget, and so Amoonic's products range from 150 to 2.5 million Euro. That being said, the majority of products do, of course, feature a significantly lower price tag than what they ask for their masterpiece, the La Fleur.  Besides rings in all shapes and materials, holding all kinds of gems, Amoonic also offers earrings, brooches, necklaces and, for the male customer, cufflinks.

Custom jewelry has been one of the best funded and prominent applications of MC in the net, with large and successful players like GEMVARA in the US or investments from the German Sammer brothers in the same field.

Copyright Amoonic, www.amoonic.de, all rights reserved!Like their competitors, Amoonic's portfolio is rather large,  with over 6000 rings, about 900 earrings and nacklaces each and 300 cufflinks. All designs are made on-demand and hence do not require any upfront investment with the risk of losing money if they do not get sold. Storage costs are also extremely low, granting better chances to prevail on the tough market for jewelry. 

Amoonic is also constantly trying to optimise customer experience. For example, Amoonic has just adjusted theit website, now making it a lot easier for the (potential) customer to recognize the individualization potential and to get to configure his/her own jewelry.

All rights reserved!We had the chance to talk to Sabine Beck who founded Amoonic together with Olga Dick. In our interview she gave insight into the specifics of the mass custom online jewelry market, how Amoonic overcomes some of the hurdles MC-entprepreneurs are confronted with and gives valuable tips for others who play with the thought to enter the world of individualized online commerce.

FTP: Sabine, you gave a great presentation of your jewelry business Amoonic on this year's MC2012 conference. Being a relatively young venture, how have your experiences on the MC market have been so far and how do they compare to your expectations when you decided to start Amoonic?

SB: Our experience so far shows that individualizing jewelry is definitely a trend in the mass customization market. The demand, to suit jewelry to ones own need is consistent with our expectations. In fact, it was difficult to clearly illustrate or demonstrate at first glance on our website that at Amoonìc jewelry can be customized without losing on design. We had to overcome the gap between a visually elegant and exclusive shop for the premium range and an easy recognizable display site that is about customizable jewelry.

Since last week, you can see at once that this is an exclusive shop in the premium range of mass customization. We have made it clear on our home page as well as on our category pages that you can customize each product. It was important for us that Amoonìc is not to be seen as a standard online shop but as a high-quality "online jeweler".

FTP: Your business model differs from many others insofar as it does require very little storage of raw materials and components, equaling lower fix costs. Does this allow you to compete with other non-MC vendors in terms of price?

SB: We cannot produce as low as companies that manufacture their products abroad. To ensure the highest standard in terms of quality, we produce only in Germany. Nevertheless, our prices are similar to the ones in a traditional jewelry store because we do not have to bear the risk that a collection is not sold. We also don’t provide the usual in store customer service or have expensive store costs so we can maintain prices similar to store prices.

FTP: How do you guarantee timely delivery of products to your customers, seeing how every piece of jewelry has to be produced individually and that the number of orders can fluctuate?

SB: In the background, Amoonìc  has already a very well-functioning supply chain which runs smoothly and partly automated. Thus Amoonìc ensure that even with a higher order volume delivery time can be maintained easily and we have access to flexible resources. Also, we already included a time buffer in our delivery time to avoid delays.

Due to our good contacts to suppliers in the jewelry industry, we can procure our materials in the shortest possible time. Especially in the jewelry industry it is difficult to set up such a flexible supplier network. One advantage is that we are very well networked. We have a flexible price model which allows us to update the prices quickly in frequent intervals.

FTP: Jewelry is typically a product that customers want to see and feel in reality before they buy it. Has this turned out to be an obstacle for your business? How do you (plan) to overcome it?

SB: For Amoonìc the sense of touching jewelry has become a solvable problem. With the possibility to see the jewelry on the own hand by photo-realistic images the customer gets an accurate idea of ​​the piece of jewelry. Being able to return the jewelry within 30 days takes away the inhibition of the customer to buy a gem without having seen it in person.

FTP: Can you tell anything about your sales figures? How well are your offerings received by consumers?

SB: The order volume has exceeded our expectations. We plan and like to reach the break-even-point in the middle of next year.

FTP: At the MC2012 conference you estimated about 40% of your sales to be pre-configured jewelry, 60% customized. How do customized rings differ from their preconfigured pendants? Are all possible combinations of gems and materials already in the preconfigured catalogue?

SB: Customized rings do not differ from the preconfigured pendants. All different combinations are shown in our catalogue on our website so that there is no real need for the customer to customize a ring, if he is not interested in doing so.

FTP: Do you have any plans to broaden your portfolio of products in the foreseeable future? Or to offer new features to your website?

SB: We plan to expand within the next year. In addition to that, we will offer an English version of our website to address a bigger market. In addition, in the next few months there will be a lot of new features available on amoonic.de. Open Innovation is our approach for the future, this means we constantly include our customers and othe experts in the innovation process.

FTP: What do you think where MC in general is heading? Will it just be a trend or the new business model for (most) vendors?

SB: In my opinion, MC address people who don´t want to buy anything from the rack. They would like to emphasize their own personality. I think right now we are still speaking of a trend, but I believe that this trend will develop and establish itself in the next few years. Especially those with middle or higher incomes make a point in buying something unique to distinguish themselves from others and to meet their own needs.

FTP: Which advise would you give entrepreneurs planning to enter the MC market? Can you tell about any mistakes you made that they should avoid?

SB: The most important fact is to consider the size of the targeted market. The main focus should not be only on the configurator. All various possible combinations of the products should also be displayed in the shop. In our opinion the passion to create a product playfully depends heavily on the target group as well as on the gender. In addition, the configurator should be easy to use. Another aspect is that you should create independent content from the SEO point of view besides the configurator, so that you can guarantee a good visibility on Google and other search engines.

FTP: How important do you rate the use of social media not only to promote ones MC-company but also interact with consumers to better position oneself in the market?

SB: Nowadays social media is mandatory and the direct interaction with customers is a real benefit. To us open innovation is the cue. Involving the customer in the idea generation phase is very important and we believe that this is the future. This may reduce intensive costs for market research In the future.

FTP: Sabine, thank you very much for the interview and your interesting views on the mass customization market. I am looking forward to watch Amoonic evolve!

17 07, 2012

Interview: Heiko Vogelgesang of egoo.de, the leading German Mass Customization Consumer Portal

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:01+00:00 Juli 17th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Deutsch (in German), Interview, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization|

Heiko_vogelgesang_09_swWhile the Mass Customization "movement" originated in the United States, the German speaking world has long caught fire about the concept. Many companies are already employing it over here, be it as their main business model or "just" a side branch. 

For all those who want to update themselves on news and trends about MC in German language, my dear blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang will most likely have you covered on his very well-written and often updated blog egoo.de.

Furthermore, egoo.de features a pretty comprehensive database of MC companies from around the world, often with a personal review of the products by Heiko. 

We had the chance to talk to Heiko about his blog, the experiences and observations he made during his years-long time in the MC community and his expectations for the future of  individual customization. So read on for what egoo.de really has to offer!

FTP: Heiko, your blog egoo.de is the largest mass customization blogs in German language, and one of the best in the world. Many people take it as an entry point to the MC world. When did your interest for MC spark up and what fascinated you so much about this topic that you decided to start your own blog about it?

HV: My interest started with my first own shirt in 1999. I loved the idea of creating your own products. Nonetheless almost eight years passed unitl I realized that there is a lot of need of information. Beginning of 2007 I wrote an article with an overview of german Mass Customization Online-Shops on my private blog. I never had so many visitors on my blog before. So I researched about this topic and saw that there is no website which informs specific about this topic. egoo was born. After round a about 1 ½ years of planning, egoo.de started in september 2008. 

FTP: What exactly do you offer? What can consumers, scholars, managers expect to get out of a visit on your blog?

HV: First, egoo is geared to end consumers. They can expect a "unique" database of mc-companies, interesting news about personalized products and special offers. But also scholars and managers will find a lot of posts with interesting news about the mc industry.

FTP: And how does this work for companies wanting to be included into your database? Can one simply sign up and fill a questionnaire or do you hand pick them?

HV: Yes, there is a simple way to sign up for free at http://egoo.de/shops/shop-eintragen. The principal goal is to have a complete database with ALL online-shops where you can customize products. To give the visitors an orientation there are hand-picked recommendations in the specific categories.

FTP: Can you go a bit in depth about the benefits of your database for consumers in comparison to, say, just googling for MC companies?

HV: Gladly! First of all the visitor gets an editorially approved overview over all mc-shops of his interest. eg. business shirts. Also, as i already mentioned, the visitors find in every category hand-picked recommendations. Additionally there are detailed information like pricing, shipping time, special offers and year of founding provided for most of the stores. 

FTP: With these services offered, your database needs to be and stay curated and maintained. How do you guarantee for up-to-date information about the companies listed in it?

HV: In Germany we call it "Alle Angaben ohne Gewähr"

[information supplied without liability]. 😉 So there is no guarantee that all information are up to date at all times. But I check the information regularly and do my very best.

FTP: All this work you invest into your blog and the database certainly costs a lot of time. How do you finance yourself, do your services cost money?

HV: No, there are no costs for customer and no costs for shops. I try to finance this project just by ads. For example companies can buy display-ads, a highlighted position in the database or other special promotions.

FTP: A more in general question: what do you think will the future of Mass Customization be? Will it just be a trend or the new businesacs model for all (or most) of retail?

HV: In my opinion it quite clearly is a new business model for retail. But not for all. You'll never will successful sell customized bathroom tissue. At least in masses. But for the most retailer there is a lot of potential in mass customization. 

FTP: From your experience with all the companies you examined for your database: What are the major errors you notice being made by MC-companies and how do your think these could be avoided?

HV: The major error was to think that to sell personalized products are easier than other ones. In the commodity boom of the MC trend in 2010, there were a lot of startups in Germany who tried to jump on the bandwagon. Many of them are closed again. E-Commerce isn't that easy. On the contrary: With personalized product you have to solve a lot of problems that you don't have with mass-products. 

FTP: How important do you rate the use of social media not only to promote ones MC-company but also interact with consumers to better position oneselve in the market?

HV: Especially personalized products are very emotional. Customers put a lot of time to create their own product so they love them. That's the perfect requirement for sharing in social media. This advantage can be exploited by the mc-companies.

FTP: Do you see any differences between smaller and larger vendors when it comes to MC? 

HV: The "small" start-ups are much more flexible and the most ones are really innovative. Some of them created completely new processes in production. The big ones are sluggish and need much, much more time to optimize their workflow or offers. Moreover I had the feeling that they are spoilt of the easy way to sell their mass-products. If there is a problem they stop the experiment mass customization or don't even start.

FTP: Do you have anything planned for egoo.de? Are any new services or projects to be expected?

HV: There are many optimizations for the directory planned. The next step is to persuade more vendors to provide a customer-friendly returning policy which will be signalized with an egoo seal and integrate customer reviews in the directory.

FTP: Heiko, thank you very much! I am looking forward to your upcoming articles and to follow your next projects!  And a note for anyone in the mass customization field: Support Heiko by cooperating with him, linking to his blog, and providing him with info and perhaps paid ads. As without a large consumer-focused portal, we will never shift MC consuption to a higher level!

16 07, 2012

Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 11): Fewsome: Affordable Custom Watches

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:03+00:00 Juli 16th, 2012|Co-Design Process, MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Personalization|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Watching Time Go By In Style

A watch can be a fairly important piece of jewlery, especially for a man who, in opposite to his female counterpart, can often not wear too many other decorative objects. An individual watch is hence a really nice addition to your individual style and sets your wrist appart from the standard (and is a great converstation starter at a party). This little bit of individualism can easily cost you upwards of a four-digit number of USD or Euro and is usually reserved for a select few.

However, if you do not mind your watch to lack the logo of a high-class premium brand, fewsome might be worth a look for you. On their website, a nice and even animated configurator lets you build your custom wristwatch by picking all the important parts like movement, case, ring, dials, hands and so on. Choice is plentiful and lets you pick both different designs and colors. The result is a pretty unique watch that you can even have engraved on its back cover.

Time will tell how this business model will evolve and it will certainly be interesting to watch it unfold. But as custom papers have been the subject of one of our first good papers on the subject (the 2004 JPIM paper), I truly believe so 🙂

Fewwatches

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data.