1 09, 2012

Interview: Sound Designer Max Kickinger about how personalized sound branding can improve sales

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:10+00:00 September 1st, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

In my wrap-up post about the MC2012 conference in june I mentioned Max Kickinger, a professional sound designer, or, better: sound brander. At the MC2012-Salzburg, he gave a very insightful and entertaining presentation about what professional sound design is, how it is being done and, most important, how it can majorly contribute to making your company stick out and being remembered in a positive way.

Copyright Max Kickinger, all rights reserved!Sound branding, to me, is one of these (actually not so) little aspects of marketing that sourrounds us every day, yet we never think about it. Things like the famous Nokia-ringtone come to mind, which was omnipresent until a few years ago. Nowadays, if a certain ringtone sounds, five people in the same room instinctively reach for their Apple smartphone. Just two examples of what soundbranding can do.

Max Kickinger was kind enough to give us a pretty detailed interview in which he explains the concept in detail and stresses the importance of audible recognizability for all sorts of companies – including mass customization ventures!

FTP: Max, at the MC2012 you presented the concept of soundbranding. Since certainly not everybody is familiar withthe exact implications of that term, can you, as a professional, give your definition of what sound branding realyis – and what it is not?

MK: Sure! Soundbranding is a process of defining, creating and implementing a unique and recognizable soundprofile for a brand. Just the same as brands are used to do in the visual domain. Like most brands have a distinct typefont, colors,images and so on, we believe that every brand should have it's own sound. Having your own sound is an indispensable part of every brand.

FTP: What can sound branding do for a company? Do you deliver more or less a recognizable jingle?

MK: Well, it goes far beyond a single piece of music. Finding the right music in particular, for example a jingle, is an aesthetic process. Defining a Sound Identity for a brand is a much more strategic objective for the brand. This means defining ground rules how a brand deals with it's sound. The basic questions are: where does a brand sound, how does it sound and in which situations silence is more appropriate. We make sure, that everyone dealing with the brand has the framework for the right sound at the right time.

FTP: Can you give/ do you know of any numbers/ examples of how soundbranding notably increased sales/revenues for companies?

MK: Just think of T-Mobile Soundbranding for example. Their Soundlogo consists of two notes and is in it's shortest under one second long. With just one second of sound we, the consumers and listeners learned a whole set of values and propositions the brand stands for. Not that I am saying, that this comes all out of the Soundlogo itself, but the brand acted accordingly to combining it's sound to it's values. Something like this has to be built up and doesn't come overnight – so at first it is an investment into your brand, that pays of when it lowers your cost of music in the following years.

Times are getting more complex. I think brands create orientation in a complex world. Having your customers recognize you in this world pays off for every brand. So I think it‘s not easy to say how much money let‘s say T-Mobile made by having a distint visual identity, but I can tell you it would be less if they hadn‘t. It‘s exactly the same with the sound.

FTP: And how does the process work? Imagine I would ask you to sound brand my MC company, producing, say, customized handbags?

MK: It would be a pleasure. The process workes in modules. First we analyse your brand soundwise. Where does your brand already sound and what does it sound like. Then we take a look at other brands in your market segment, because we sure don't want to sound like they do. Once we've done that together we work on the question "What do we want to sound like?" After these Soundworkshop there will be the creative compositional brief for the composers. In most cases this would be me or a team of talents, that are just perfect for a particular music style. Of course everthings gets documented in the Sound Guidelines and stored properly in your own Sounddatabase. So that everyone working on and with the brand is involved and informed how to get the right sounds for the right occasion. From that point on, we accompany your brand to check if everything works smoothly.

FTP: How important do you think sound branding can be especially for our readers being interested in or professionals on the mass customization market?

MK: It think brands are about the experience. First and foremost music is somehow the customisation of your life. Many people show who they are, by playing you their favorite music. Brands can open up to this and deliver customized music experiences for their consumers, that just fit's their taste perfectly. Of course also in a formal approach, that allows you to be still recognizalbe as a brand soundwise.

FTP: Are there differences between a traditional company and an MC one in terms of sound branding? Do you recommend / have to take a different approach when it comes to designing and establishing their sound brand?

MK: I think every brand or company has it's unique DNA. And companies can be a very complex thing. In every case the process of creating a Soundbrand is of course defined by the brand itself and in most cases it is only as good as the brand knows who they are and what they stand for. We make sure, that our process works fine in finding what makes your brand special and build something, that is unique to you. Of course there a numbers of possiblities, that you can open your Soundchannels for your customers. Just look at the example Nokia Own Voice. People can record there own and others voices for the commands of the navigationsystem on their mobile device. It's just a perfect example of how customziable sound and product go together.

FTP: Many MC ventures are small(er) ones. Do you think sound branding can lead to a significant competitive advantage for small companies (MC and traditional alike)? Are the costs worth it, at that stage, so to say?

MK: Even the smallest companies have sound – think for example of your voicemail on your telephone. Even if you are a one man or woman brand. When it comes to costs it of course makes a substancial difference if you hire us for a whole soundbranding or for creating the right tonality for your voicemail.

FTP: What do you think about mass customization in general, will it be "just a trend" or become the business model of the future?

MK: I think mass customization is a huge opportunity to give your customers the chance to be a part of your brand. In the end it is a good proposition to make, since you as brand always try to be a part of your customers life as well. So why not open up and give your customers the chance to do that? I think as a brand now more than ever you have to be relevant or useful to your customers and I see a huge set of opportunites for the mass customisation market to play a role in this endeavor.

FTP: Max, thank you very much for this interview! It will be interesting to follow development in this field and I hope to write about some MC related projects of yours in the future.

More information about Max Kickinger and your options when deciding to get your own sound branding can be found on the official company website.

14 08, 2012

Interview: Edward Witlox of RHIEM Services: Logistics for Mass Customization … for Build-A-Bear Europe and others

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:29+00:00 August 14th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Interview, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Courtesy of RHIEM Services, www.rhiem.com. all rights reserved!Mass customization companies are different from "normal" ones in a number of ways, like their need for a very well working webshop/ configurator that lets the consumer configure his dream-product in an easy yet powerful way. Or the special logistics setup required to produce/ assemble a customized product right after the customer submitted his order and to ensure timely delivery to his doorstep.

From my experiences with MC companies, especially small and medium sized ones, these logistical matters can be a serious barrier when ventures reach a critical number of sales and need to scale up their fulfillment and/ or webshop system.

Witlox, EdAt the MC2012 conference in June I had the pleasure of meeting Edward Witlox, Director of Business Development & Sales at RHIEM Services, a German company originally founded as a printing service provider which has since then successfully evolved into an alround e-logistics expert. As part of their efforts to positon themselves as a partner for MC companies they are, amongst others, responsible for a lot of steps in the logistics chain of Build-A-Bear, famous seller of individualized plush bears.

Edward was so kind to agree on giving us an interview about his views on the logistics aspect of MC, barriers faced and ways to overcome them, and why it can be mission critical for expanding companies to get a strong (e-)logistics partner in time.

FTP: Edward, you told me that RHIEM Services sees itself as a B2B service provider for all logistical needs of mass customization companies. This is an interesting value proposition. So what is it in more detail?

EW: RHIEM is a so called 3PL+ or Value Added Logistics Service Provider, offering, directly and indirectly, a complete of set of logistic services, e.g. (bonded) central warehousing incl. B2B & B2C fulfilment (pick, pack & ship), handling of returns, and of course all shipping. But we also developed into offering customized assembly and production of products for each individual consumer of our clients. And we can manage the complete e-commerce platform or a shopping cart plugin for existing web shops.

FTP: This sounds impressive, but how scalable are your customization services?

EW: Based on a very robust logistic process design (in terms of structure, systems, skills, staff, strategy, style and shared values) RHIEM offers services, scalable to the changing needs of its customers, allowing organizations with no warehouse capacity or without a large enough staff or expertise to manage inventory and orders, saving them costs, while offering a degree of flexibility. As a result, companies of all types are serviced with unlimited scalability.

Several of our current customers which started working with RHIEM while they were a start-up considerably grew during the years, also due to a very good cooperation between parties.

FTP: Pretend I was an entrepreneur on the MC market. How do I profit from contracting with a large company like yours?

EW: Entrepreneurs acting on the MC market will face a momentum to consider whether they remain doing the logistics themselves or decide to outsource. In the later case they will need a partner with a robust logistic process being capable of seamlessly aligning to the processes of the customer company. Being scalable in every facet, without any minimum restrictions to organizational size, turnover or storing volumes to start the cooperation, RHIEM guarantees entrepreneurs an enduring long term logistic solution. RHIEM is such a Service Provider.

As an ecommerce company, MC companies are still acting as a niche player, because their customer base will be mainly exist out of early adaptors of their products. These companies might extend their market, by going cross border. In those cases there are very few LSP’s, offering a scalable ecommerce platform with payment methods for every European country with features like multi-languages, multicurrency and VAT handling; completely integrated with a warehouse management system.

FTP: In your company you are especially responsible for MC clients. From your professional experience in the last years, what separates a mass customization company from a "traditional" one in terms of logistics needs?

EW: From out of a logistic perspective MC companies have a more demanding, intensive and complex logistic process, which also changes over time more rapidly. In general, offering a broad variety of product attributes or combinations to realize a customized product, results in a more complex manufacturing and assembling process, demanding more resources, with a bigger risk on mistakes, resulting in higher costs.

By provisioning flexible, but robust logistic processes, RHIEM is capable of matching complex customization demands, eliminating the risks, against slightly higher logistic costs.

FTP: One of your larger clients is Build-A-Bear Germany. What exactly do you do for them?

Buildabear workshopEW: RHIEM operates the complete B2C e-logistics for BAB, hosting and managing the web shop in terms of e-fulfillment. Actually we host the complete product catalogue and shopping cart. In practice this means that we handle the orders and take care of the financial receipt. After the payment is received, we do the picking of the chosen bear and its attributes, followed by the assemblage. Before packing the product in an eye-catching shipping carton, a fully personalized birth certificate of the bear is printed and added to the bear. Finally, we take care of the distribution of the parcels in Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Besides this, we also take care of the B2B fulfilment, by replenishing the BAB stores.

Both logistic flows are being preceded by the main logistic product flow from the manufacturer towards our central warehousing, with RHIEM taking care of these flow as well as the customs clearance for entering Europe.

FTP: Can you give any other interesting examples of MC clients you are working for and what was/is special about your cooperation?

EW: RHIEM services several clients with our Full Color Digital Print-On-Demand techniques, producing high quality individualized marketing materials.

FTP: Do you see logistics as a barrier for growing MC companies which did or are about to make the jump from a few dozen to several thousand sold articles each month? What can be done to overcome this barrier?

EW: All companies jumping from a few to numerous sold articles per month will face a momentum that logistics will become a big hurdle. Especially for MC companies, offering a large variety of product attributes, this hurdle is becoming an even larger barrier. To overcome such a barrier, MC companies do have to make a strategic decision, to ‘make or buy’. Because for many MC companies logistics are not their core competence, seriously hampering their organizational growth, it is wise to consider outsourcing in an early stage or invest heavily in resources and gaining logistic knowledge to do themselves.

FTP: MC is definitively a trend. What does it mean for logistics companies like RHIEM?

EW: With its ambition to become a Mass Customization Logistics Expert, RHIEM will have to extend their e-manufacturing and e-assembly capabilities, like embroidering and engraving to align with several kinds of modularity methods.

FTP: Which changes are you awaiting in the coming years and how do you adapt to best position yourself?

EW: While Europe is still experiencing a delay in cross border ecommerce (on avg. 4-6% of total sales) this situation is changing due to the reduction or even elimination of cross border barriers. RHIEM already has a major competitive advantage in handling cross border fulfilment. Now also optimizing its reverse logistics capabilities it will cover the complete forward & reverse logistics internationally.

Specifically on the MC trend we will face more and more companies adapting any type of mass customization, emerging from segmented standardization into tailored or even pure customization. RHIEM will align with these developments by anticipating and proactively investing in the resources, essential for deploying its manufacturing and assembling activities efficiently and effectively, resulting in the fact that RHIEM continuously will be able to stay tuned with changing customer demands.

FTP: Did you (have to) adapt a lot to satisfy the needs and wishes of your MC clients?

EW: Adapting to satisfy the needs and wishes of our clients is one of our core competences. Historically RHIEM transformed from originally a printing company into a Value Added LSP by adapting to changing customer demands. Nowadays this is one of RHIEM’s values, actively investing based on customer demand or trends to ‘Stay One Step Ahead’.

FTP: From your observations and experiences with MC companies so far, which tips and advises would you like to give in regards to the logistic challenges they are/ will be facing?

EW: The success of MC is in the execution

[not only in the concept]. The logistic process is essential in this stage and crucial for satisfying the customer. Due to the fact that technologies follow each other even faster and customer demands are changing more rapidly in the future, it will be mandatory for a MC company to adapt to these developments. Logistics will thereby become more and more one of the key differentiators between success and failure of a MC initiative.

By focusing on marketing, sales and customer service, MC companies will have a daytime job to deploy these activities well. In those cases, they need to rely on a proactive flexible, but robust logistic partner. RHIEM is ready for it, to fill in this role successfully on behalf of the customer!

FTP: Edward, thank you very much for these interesting insights and outlooks! Im definitively looking forward to follow your work in the coming years and see which ways you come up with to improve e-logistics for MC companies.

More information about RHIEM Services at their company website and also on twitter.

27 07, 2012

Updated and realistic market data on personal 3D printers

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:42+00:00 Juli 27th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Design, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

3D printing or additivae manufactuing is a hot topic today. Recently, I found this absurdly expensive market study on 3D printing (never had the idea that you can charge $100 per figure). But since many year, my best source about this topic has been Terry Wohlers.

TerrywohlersTerry is president of Wohlers Associates, Inc., an independent consulting firm he founded more than 25 years ago. Through this company, Wohlers has provided consulting assistance to more than 170 organizations in 23 countries. Also, he has provided lots of advise to the investment community. And on top, he really is a great guy!

On his blog, Wohlers Talk, he regularly posts interesting news from and views on how the industry evolves, put into perspective by matching it with his years of professional experience.

Recently he published some interesting thoughts on 3D-printers. As can be seen from the latest Wolters Report on the state-of-the-art and development of additive manufacturing and 3d-printing, sales figures of said 3d-printers have been dramatically increasing over the past years.

The report states that especially personal 3D-printers sales have grown by 289% in 2011. Yet, this is said to account for not more than about 26 million USD so far, making this market appear to hold a lot of potential.

However, in his post, Terry describes the market potential for presonal 3D-printers in a rather disillusionating yet more realistic fashion:

Wohlers Talk: Why Most Adults Will Never Use a 3D Printer

Many have speculated on whether everyday consumers will purchase and use a 3D printer. With prices dipping to $350 for a kit and $550 for an assembled system, they are certainly affordable. Some believe that a 3D printer will someday be in every home and used to produce replacement parts as household products break or wear out.

As shown by Shapeways, Materialise, FutureFactories, Ponoko, and others, consumers are definitely interested in products made by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Shapeways claims to be producing more than 90,000 parts (about 25,000 products) per month by AM, with a high percentage going to consumers. For years, Materialise’s .MGX division has offered striking lighting designs, sculptures, and other products, with consumers paying hundreds of euros for one of them.

Indeed, consumers have an appetite for products made by additive manufacturing. However, most consumers will never own or operate a machine to produce these products. Instead, they will go to Shapeways, Amazon, or to another service or storefront to purchase these products. Most will not know, or even care, how the products were made—no different from the way they now purchase products. Consumers only care about receiving good value.

Someday, a company will offer a very low-cost, easy-to-use, and safe 3D printer targeted at children. This market opportunity, I believe, is very big because children like to imagine, create, touch things, play, and entertain themselves. These kids will be producing vehicles, action figures, puzzles, and just about everything imaginable. They are our future designers, engineers, and manufacturing professionals.

Most parents and adults are not candidates for a 3D printer. They do not want to mess with the data, manufacturing process, clean-up, and finishing of parts and products. Even if they owned or had access to a machine, it would probably not be capable of producing parts in the right material with the mechanical properties, color, surface finish, and texture needed for the part(s) they are trying to create or replace. These types of parts will continue to be produced by industry professionals and that’s why most adults will never use a 3D printer.

Source: Wohlers Talk, http://wohlersassociates.com/blog/2012/07/why-most-adults-will-never-use-a-3d-printer/ (July 26th 2012)


26 07, 2012

Interview: Andreas Krönke of Stickvogel: A Promissing B2B Approach to Service Customization

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:47+00:00 Juli 26th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Interview, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright Stickvogel, www.stickvogel.de, all rights reserved!Most mass customization happens in the world of B2C, where a business sells its products to consumers which they have individualized to tehir needs. However, there are a number of B2B approaches as well, MC-companies offering customized services to other companies. I have called these business models "MC platforms", and they are one of the strongest developments in the field.

One of these MC platform is Stickvogel. The venture from Berlin, Germany, has been in the market of embroidery for almost 10 years now and has recently signed a deal with Butlers, a leading German "stuff" retailer (think of IKEA without the furniture, and located on high street). Certainly is a big success for a small MC company! Like with Butlers, Stickvogel enables vendors of embroidable goods to offer their consumers individualized products.

Copyright Stickvogel, www.stickvogel.de, all rights reserved!Core piece of their portfolio is a specialized configurator which can be integrated into the vendor's own web presence. Furthermore, Stickvogel takes the burden of production, logistics and backoffice services off their partner's shoulders, significantly lowering the barrier for companies to enter the market of mass customized products. 

Motivated by the great successes of the past years, the team around CEO Philip Siefer has expanded their offerings to engraving and canvas printing and are planning to broaden their portfolio further. 

All rights reserved!At the MC2012 in June we had the chance to talk to Andreas Krönke, head of public relations at Stickvogel, who kindly granted us a lot of insight into their business experiences, plans for the future, and views on mass customization in general

FTP: Andreas, Stickvogel is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. Can you tell a bit about the evolution of your business?

AK: Philip, our CEO, had the Stickvogel idea in 2003. Later Stephan joined Philip and they both started the whole business in Ilmenau, where they were studying media technology at the Ilmenau University of Technology. In the first years Stickvogel was a manufacturer of personalized textiles. The focus of the company was B2C.  Then, we got IKEA as our customer. In 2006 we started with embroidering in-store in more and more IKEA stores, primarily during the time before christmas.

Last year, our cooperation with the German retailer Butlers began and we turned more into a software startup. We developed a configurator which easily enables the user to personalize a broad range of products in a very qualitative way. At the moment we offer, of course, embroidery, but also engraving and canvas print.

FTP: Your approach is (now) one of a B2B service provider. Can you outline what exactly you offer to companies?

AK: Our most important product has become our configurator. We offer the whole software package to companies which then use it in the B2C market. But not only we offer the software with back-office. Also we produce all personalized products with our very own machinery. However, it's also possible for our partners to produce products with their own machines. You see, our processes are very flexible. Finally we can overtake the complete logistics and cover the whole service like storage, customization and shipping.

FTP: You offer full service, and deal with big players. But your team seems not to be very large. How do you handle both the workload and the risk of peaks during which your capacities might not suffice to deal with all the orders? And how scalable is the package you offer?

AK: Good question. What is very important for us, is automation. All processes have to be really optimized and we always try to make it even more easy for our team in the production. Everything should happen in the quickest way possible.

Our package is very scalable and flexible. We can satisfy big customers as well as small ones like Sox & Boxers. They sell, as one could assume by the name, socks and boxer shorts. With our service they're able to personalize their textiles. And we take care of everything: storage, embroidery, pick and pack, shipping.

FTP: Besides embroiding you do also offer printing and engraving. Did that open up new markets for you? Does it work with your existing infrastructure or are major changes needed to add these techniques to your product portfolio?

AK: Everything starts with a challenge. It's always exciting to add a new product to our portfolio. But our system is so adoptable that it was no problem to integrate these new techniques. In the future we can fulfill even more wishes of our customers and, like that, explore new markets.

FTP: With Butlers you have a rather large vendor as a business partner. Can you tell about how cooperating between a company your size and their size works out in every day business?

AK: Butlers is an exceptional company with a flat hierarchy. Furthermore they are really open minded. That makes it really easy and pleasant to work with them quite close.

FTP: Many smaller MC businesses will be eager to ask one question: How did you manage to establish contact and get into a cooperation with such a large partner?

AK: Actually we were quite lucky. We had a sales promotion at IKEA, where people could experience embroidery live. There we also attracted the attention of Wilhelm Josten, the CEO of Butlers, actually more the one of his wife. By chance Philip himself was there at this very day and so the contact was set up. Philip and Wilhelm Josten kept on talking over many weeks. Don't think that pitching only lasts ten minutes. Adjustments to fit into their value creation chain were not necessary, though. By the way, the same thing happened with IKEA, they saw us during a sales promotion at Breuninger Erfurt.

FTP: Can you talk about some of your business figures and their development over time at all?

AK: We could double or triple our turnover almost every year. In 2011 it was by 300.000 Euros. But please don't tell anyone!

FTP: Which advise would you give someone starting their own MC business?

AK: At first, be passionated about what you do. If you don't love what you do, don't do it. Always stay focused and keep the overview. And don't spend to much money. Of course, we sometimes were in difficult situations, but they've never been an obstacle for us.

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?

AK: Social media is definitely a key topic. Social media is MC in the internet. We're using many social media channels like of course Facebook and Twitter, where we post contributions about twice a week. But we want to increase our communication more and more, provided that our fans and followers like that. We also really like to get feedback or messages via Twitter and Facebook. But we do not only use these services. We also like YouTube to give people the possibility to peek behind the scences of Stickvogel. And we have a corporate blog that you can find on our website stickvogel.com. The use of social media is very naturally to us and it became completely common. We also use social media for internal communication. In one sentence: We love social media.

FTP: Are you considering to open up a B2C web-shop of your own, with a configurator like a "classical" MC company?

AK: Yes, we do! Keep your eyes open. Silberäffchen

[Silver Monkey] will go live soon. It is a web-shop specialized on engraving of silver products. [UPTADE: Silberäffchen has gone into beta and can be accessed via www.silberaeffchen.de]

FTP: Are there any other new products or projects in planning for you? What can we expect next?

AK: We will acquire lots of more customers in the next weeks and develop the next version of our configurator, an even better back-office and a magento plug-in. And we hope that we can offer more MC techniques. To not discriminate against other animals we want to launch an online shop for every animal. Silberäffchen is just the beginning. Besides we always have some fun projects. But those are mostly secret – for now.

FTP: Andreas, I hope your new projects will work out as well for you as your past ones and I am sure we will keep hearing about you.

All details about Stickvogel can be found on their company website, www.stickvogel.com! And to get a sneak peak of what their production looks like, here is a video for you!


23 07, 2012

Market Watch: Formulor: Professional-grade yet easy and affordable 3D-designing and production

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:53+00:00 Juli 23rd, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

Copyright Formulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!If you co-host a large-scale mass customization conference as we did with the Create Your Own (CYO) last year, it is delighting to learn that connections established during the event are resulting in new ventures and products. 

One result of CYO networking has been the cooperation between virtual product presentation specialist Open Experience and Formulor, a Berlin based company offering customized 3D-products. Formulor is one of the German frontend's for Ponoko.


Copyright Fomulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!

The limit is your imagination (and what a laser cutter can do). Example model. Click to enlarge!

Formulor gives its users all the tools necesary to design whatever shape and form they like and to have it laser cut and engraved before shipping it to your doorstep. The really great part of this is the consumer frontend which is about as easy to use as a "conventional" configurator and yet can do so much more.


It enables casual users and professional designers alike to quickly bring any form out of their mind onto a virtual canvas. One can do so by either uploading an existing file (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, inkscape) or by using the really convenient drawing and writing tools embedded into the configurator. 

Open Experience, a spin-off of the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie KIT and a specialist in 3D configuration,  has done a great job in designing the front end. Even without any knowledge of how to use a 2D-designing software you can easily get a nice-looking 3D object drawn and rendered in no time at all. 

Most of the work, the magic to it, if you will, happens in the background. While you draw and write on the virtual canvas the software translatest your entries into a 3D model which is presented at all times. You will always know how your design will look in "real life" once laser-cut and delivered to you. 

Copyright Formulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!

2D drawing canvas, ready for creative input. Click to Enlarge!

Furthermore the configurator automatically checks whether or not your design is actually technically producable, so you do not have to worry about that aspect at all: As long as it can be manufactured by Formulor's partner company Ponoko's laser cutters, you can design whatever you like.

And because Formulor checks your brainchild against Ponoko's personal factory API, pricing of your design is also constantly updated. 

 The base materials you chose from at the beginning of your configuration process include acrylic glass, cardboard, cork, corrugate card, decoflex veneer, felt, finnboard, leather, MDF, PET, paperboard, plywood, polypropylen, silicon and stamp rubber in a large variety of colors and thicknesses

This platform can really be of great value for all kinds of creatives, be it to visualize an idea, to prototype, to get special parts for your architectural model or just as part of your latest crafting of christmas gifts.

Besides this practical aspect it is a great example of how (conference) networking can help you identifying the right partner to get your business ahead of the competition. Formulor, Open Experience and Ponoko have created a very interesting tool for individual and affordable modeling here that could set standards in this branch.

More about Open Experience, Formulor and Ponoko on their respective websites. And to get an idea of how easy it is to use Formulor's frontend to form your own product, here is a video, too!


15 07, 2012

Personal Mobility by Daimler: New moovel platform wants to make travel more efficient

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:07+00:00 Juli 15th, 2012|Customization Trends, Long Tail, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright Daimler, www.daimler.de, all rights reserved!During his presentation at the MC2012 conference, Wolfgang Gruel from NBD at Daimler already indicated a major new offering that shall move Daimler into the nexat area of automotive transportation. Last week, this service was finally announced: MOOVEL 

It shal provide a more comnpelling answer on teh question: Why is it necessary that privately owned cars are often used in a really inefficient way, by either standing around most of the time or being driven by only one person where four or more passengers could be transported. 

One solution to this could be more car pooling. The idea is not new at all and i being offered in most (if not all) major cities over here in Germany. However, it is kind of revolutionary that a major car company like Daimler starts a project aiming at getting people to do what is, by traditional means, not in a car manufacturer's interest in the slightest: Buy less "useless" automobiles by using an improved, automated car pooling model. 

Daimler, though, aware of their social and ecological responsibility, has just launched a platform that does exactly that: moovel

Copyright Daimler, www.daimler.de, all rights reserved!The concept is really simple. Moovel is availible either as a (free) iPhone app or via their website. Users can easily offer unused seat capacity availible during a car ride they are going to take, at a certain time and from one destination to another.

Likewise, travelers in need of transportation can enter the time and places they want to go to and are instantly shown information about not only availible seats in privately offered car pool vehicles but also details on commercial rides by buy or tram offered by local companies. 

The best about it (especailly if you are used to the often tiresome information-websites of railway companies) is its ease of use. You literally do not have to invest more effort than it takes to alter one short sentense to your needs, by specifying when and where you want to go. The software does the rest, and beutifully so.

Since this is a pilot project by Daimler, the service is in German language and limited to the city of Stuttgart, Germany, for now. If it proves to be successful, though, it might be adopted and coming to a place near you sooner than you think.

So if you understand any German at all, I really recommend taking a quick look, its a concept that will be really interesting to watch evolve. More about moovel on their website.

14 07, 2012

Open Alps: Cross-National Innovation Support for SME in the Alp Region

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:10+00:00 Juli 14th, 2012|MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers|

OpenaplsA little while ago I posted about the Top Technology Cluster (TTC) project, an initiative to foster and fund open innovation in amongst SME and partners in the greater Euregio Meuse-Rheine region (where my home university Aachen is placed). Their goal is to promote (consortial) cooperation between SME from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

PartnersA comparable yet larger project is Open Alps. The program, part of the "European Territorial Cooperation" initiative, is organized and conducted by nine partners from Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. The goal is to support SMEs in their innovation processes with external partners, and to promote the establishment of such cross-border cooperation in the first place.

Much like with the TTC, international linking is the key aspect here. While the famous term of globalization does still mainly apply to large, multinational companies, SME can especially profit from cooperations with partners, large and small, from neighbouring countries, both in one-on-one and larger consortial dimensions.

Unfortunately, there are the usual barriers one has to face when considering to extend business across the border. Open innovation can help to overcome these barriers, especially in regards to the outside-in approach, enabling SMEs to get in touch upon one broadcasting a problem that another can solve.

Open Alps is heading off to support such ventures with a threefold approach. Besides efforts to spread the word of OI, making actors on the market aware of the existance of the approach and its benefits, the program is working on the establishment of so called Open Innovation Labs in all participating areas.

These will then focus on region-specific topics and markets in order to inform and incubate exemplaric cooperations that can be role-models for other SME and get the stone rolling, so to say.

Furthermore (and especially interesting to monitor from a scientist's point of view) there will be special online platform soon, which will support the initiative's goals through active broadcast search and idea contests. This way, hopefully, SME's (and possibly additional larger companies') need information will be matched with solutions from other SME in the region.

It will be interesting to follow the development of this European Union-funded program. Preparing working packages are mostly completed by now from what I hear, and within the next months, labs and online platform will be established and opened for interested companies.

When time comes, we will take a closer look at the platform and its capabilities. Until then, Open Alps informs about all news and launches on their official project website.

10 07, 2012

Conference Report MC2012: The German Mass Customization Community Meeting

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:16+00:00 Juli 10th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MC/OI on the Web, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright FH Salzburg, http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=fh%20salzburg&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fh-salzburg.ac.at%2F&ei=EoPxT5vBMqqg4gTRqfncDQ&usg=AFQjCNFVR6AyMuGxHyBpGzKbuuuWdY_6jQ&cad=rja, all rights reserved!Unless you started following my blog just now, there is no way you could potentially have missed the announcements, special editions and features about the MC2012. This year's edition of the largest MC conference in German language, hosted by Dominik Walcher, Paul Blazek and myself, took place on 29th of June.

Despite the early time of day, the air already started to flicker from the upcoming heat of what promissed to be a really nice summer day at the marvellously desgined building of the University of Applied Sciences near edge of the Alp mountains in Salzburg, Austria.

About 150 professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all parts of the mass customization landscape in the German experienced a tightly packed day dedicated to the opportunities of customer co-design.

Copyright TIM Lehrstuhl, www.tim.rwth-aachen.de, all rights reserved!

Panoramic audience shot. Click to enlarge!

And what a day it was! A buzzing audience followed the presentations of no less than 24 speakers, ranging from young entrepreneurs, telling the tale of their entrance into the MC market, global players and market leaders, giving insight into proven ways and tactics to profit from customer participation, to leading scholars, showing how latest research proves the concept of the integrated customer to be more than a trend.

To not only preach customer integration but actually live up to our words and integrate our conference participants beyond questions and one-on-one networking, we had a special feature in place. Werner Haring, founder and CEO of wallero.us, had contributed to the event's multi media experience by "installing" a social media wall right next to the stage.

Copyright Profilfoto von CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Social Media Wall, Courtesy of wallero.us. Click to enlarge!

This application was a real eye-catcher and various running gags were born during the course of the event – and you still can follow the #MCSalzburg hashtag for a report of the conference.

 The day headed off with the introductory panel. After a hearty welcome by co-host Dominik Walcher, my research group's members Dr. Christoph Ihl and Thorsten Harzer outlined results from our research projects and demonstrated some of the numerical "magic" behind Mass Customization and Open Innovation and how it can be utilized to take the right decisions about mission-critical aspects that many companies do not even realize to be of great importance.

As an example: asked about the ideal number of customization options to offer in your configurator (solution space), would your answer have been: "As many as possible, since more choice equals happier customers!"? If your answer to this is "yes" then our latest resarch findings might offer some ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Following Dominik Walcher's insight into the development and outcome of the MC500, our great study of the most important MC companies from around the world, I had the chance to present on the importance of customer integration and how companies of all sizes can profit from proper employment of the concept, as well as some new MC trends of the future.

Next on the agenda was the market panel in which Franz Blach (IDEO), Franz Hölzl (Kaindl) and Wolfgang Gruel (Daimler) gave really interesting and well-received insight how Open Innovation, individualization and co-creation have changed the way they are conducting their business and the ways they found to profit from it:

  • An interesting attempt at improvement of working culture were IDEO's working ethics, as Franz Blach outlined them. They are meant to be pretty much contrary to what we are used to in most larger companies these days. Instead of perfectionism and pressure, IDEO deems a culture in which close teamwork, prototypical work (things do not have to be perfect in their first iteration, can evolve and develop), error tolerancy and more fun are the key principles. While there is certainly more to a successful innovation company, this is certainly an approach favorable by many employees.
  • Franz Hölzl demonstrated how Kaindl was able to offer a totally new way to produce wooden flooring, printed with individual patterns and colors, in great looking quality. Because of their production technology and business model, they can deliver a much more customized product at a significantly lower price.
  • Wolfgang Gruel finally brought up the question if/why it is necessary that privately owned cars are often used in a really inefficient way, standing in the driveway most of the time and usually being too large for most of the time they are used. Daimler has been working on models to counter this development by employing car sharing, car pooling and affordable renting models. Nothing revolutionary new, you will say, but this time it is being done large-scale, by an international company, and not your small start-up next door. It will be interesting to observe whether Daimler can actually change something about the status quo or if the highly valued status symbol "car" will remain untouched by the means of sheer efficiency.


Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl , collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of our speakers. Click to enlarge!

Next: the social media panel, moderated by Paul Blazek: For all those planning to integrate social media into their PR strategy as well, talks by Martina Partl and Clarissa Streichsbier of cyLEDGE were as insightful as Catharina van Delden's summary of her company innosabi's (unserAller, anybody?) work. Renate Gruber gave the finishing presentation about how her venture CupCakes made its way from a traditional food company onto the MC market:

  • Partl and Streichsbier pointed out that, while social media in regards to mass customization was nothing new anymore, the combination of social media and open innovation are a perfect match. This is certainly true in so far as open innovation per definition relies on participation and hence any media that is suited to increase awareness is potentially supportive for any OI initiative.

    Interestingly they chose Facebook as an example for a customizable information source. The important role of facebook as a customer relationship tool was stressed by all speakers in this panel. Certainly will be interesting to see if/how companies think of now ways to even better employ the platform for their needs. 

During the lunch break, there was time to check the 20+ exhibitors. Some had even set up live demonstrations of their product offers, like Pasterie, supporting us with freshly made pasta or CowCrowd, demoing their lovely wooden pendants, individualized on-location with your own image and/or custom text.

Next: The start-up panel, hosted by MC-blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang (egoo.de). Here, Sabine Beck gave an amazing presentation about how her jewlery business Amoonic manages to mix pre-configured and individually customized rings and more in a great portfolio that every manager dreams about: produced entirely on demand, without any significant need for storage space or the risk of wasting materials.

Interestingly, their configurator is not even visible if you enter their website. At first (and actually second) glance you will not notice anything hinting at the possibility to customize a ring. The configuration options do become visible, however, once you have decided upon one of the preconfigured designs. These can then be individualized using a wide variety of options. Possible combinations of gold, silver and gems of all kinds range from 150 to 2.5 million Euro. Certainly something in this for everybody.

However, from my own testing I found it hard to even find out that you can individualize the rings. You have to actually select one before a respective button appears and that could be a serious usability drawback in my opinion as many potential customers might not even recognize the potential of the store. It does, however, explain why about 40% of their sales are actually preconfigured, non-customized rings. Anyways though, with the average customer leaving between 400-500 Euro in their shop, the concept will certainly be profitable – especially since there are very low fix costs.

Next up was Stickvogel, a promissing start-up which specialized in embroiding and etching all kinds of motives into all kinds of goods. Lately they teamed up with major retailer Butlers, offering custom stitching to customers in Butlers' shops. This B2B customization service concept will certainly be exciting to follow over the (hopefully) next years.

Closing presentation of this panel was helt by Carina Schichl and Tanja Sieder, representing their business for unique custom travel guides, Nectar&Pulse, based on insider tips by what they call "soulmates" rather than generalized all-round information. Locals give their best tips for tourists which are then, upon checking, transformed into nicely layouted guides. While this is certainly an interesting idea per se, the issue I see with it is that the product might not be easy to market. As Schichl and Sieder pointed out, their target group originally were younger people. Instead, most of their customers are 30+. While their choice of age clustering is certainly debatable (and lead to one of the mentioned running gags of this conference), this raises the question: do they actually have the right product for the right market? If their average customer's age is above what they expected, they would likely be well advised to adapt to a different kind of information and layout which fits the needs of this target group better.

Next up was the retail panel. Moderator Jochen Krisch (excitingcommerce) did an outstanding job leading through an exciting lineup of big names: Former Bundesliga-athlete Sven Renz showed how his product line of completely customized ski/sports shoes has blessed his company with a yearly growth of 20-50%. However, I expect there to be an even larger potential in this market, seeing how ErtlRenz still "only" sold 2400 pairs of shoe at their peak last year.

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of the exhibition. Click to enlarge!

Claudia Kieserling, winner of this year's much-noticed Million-Dollar-Challenge by Zazzle, gave a short overview of individual shoe manufacturer selve, showing off some of the models availible to women around the world and giving some interesting insight upon questions from the audience. She especially stressed the importance of the customer's shopping experience, which should be more than just pushing a button and receiving a cardboard box.

A great final presenation in this block came from Max Kickinger. His soundbranding company is known for its work with some major companies like Porsche, Swarovski and many more. Commenting on a truly excellent video he explained how companies use clever sound branding to gain the consumers attention – often without him realizing to be guided towards the "right" shelve – and the checkout counter!

Following another networking break, the final panel of the day: The configurator panel, presented and moderated by Alexander Felfering of Graz University, had the technical side of customer integration covered.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Coffee-Break is over, back to the conference room, Alp-Style!

Andreas Falkner (SIEMENS) spoke about the challenges of complex product configuration, especially where multiple dependencies between customizable factors are to be respected (a good example why companies should reffer to an expert instead of just trying to headjump into the MC market).

Marc Herling of Lumo Graphics demonstrated how the use of 3D-configurators can be a blessing for the consumer who can imagine the to-buy product way better than it would be the case with just some images. With more advanced configurators, he says, the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) will more and more be replaced by YGWYW – You

[actually] Get What You Want.

On the other hand, developing a really well working, appealing 3D-configurator takes a lot more than the amount of work it costs to "just" shoot said product images. Hence, as with so many cases of exploiting new technological opportunities, its a balancing act and might often not be profitable for small companies.

HYVE's Volker Bilgram was up next. In his "Toolkits for Gamification" speech he explained how and why the aspect of playing – adding features that make the process of configuring/buying a product more fun than just an annoying act of shopping – can contribute to a retailer's sales figures. Again: If done correctly!

To complete this panel, Klaus Pilsl of IndiValue spoke about web based configurators and their part in the customer's shopping experience. His company is about to launch a major new "configurator as a (web) service" — something that has been tried for many years, but now finally may become true.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!My personal conclusions of this year's MC2012:

 (1) MC has great potential to significantly improve a company's sales figures and customer brand loyalty. However, to make it work successfully, more is needed than just to put up a fancy-looking configurator and then wait for clients.

Especially the dialog with the (potential) client is and will be even more important in the future, as more and more companies employ easily accessable social platforms like Facebook to communicate with their crowd. And a lot of both promissing start-ups and established companies could profit immensely from experienced coaching since, as Christoph Ihl had pointed out at the very beginning, even the right choice of customization options (not to be confused with as many options as possible!) can make or break your MC business. 

(2) Mass Customization needs to be less outcome-driven and to be looked upon from a higher, more meta-perspective to develop it further. I believe we know a lot about nice and perhaps even profitable BtoC consumer products. But what about MC services that tackle some of our true global challenges?

(3) Finally, the German MC community really is a nice crowd of great individuals, very eager to collaborate, to share ideas and experiences, and to network!

Looking back on a fantastic conference I truly want to thank everybody who made this possible, may it be as a speaker or a guest, an exhibitor or supportive staff member. Special thanks do go to my dear co-hosts Paul Blazek and of course Dominik Walcher, who did an outstanding job organizing this large event with his team at Salzburg University!

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

(Most of) our speakers! Click to enlarge!

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.

21 06, 2012

Mass Customization Explained – The Full Series from Innovationmanagement.se

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:51+00:00 Juni 21st, 2012|Customization Trends, Featured Research, General, MC/OI on the Web, MC500, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Innovation management, all rights reservedI have been tweeting about it during the past weeks as more episodes have become availible:

Together with my colleagues Fabrizio Salvador and Dominik Walcher, we have been given the opportunity to provide an extended overview on eight parts of various aspects of mass customization on the well-known innovation blog Innovationmanagement.se .Finally, the last episode has been published.

The series consists of 8 parts, starting here.

In the series, we tried to shed some light onto:

  • Part 1: Introduction: Competing in the Age of Mass Customization
  • Part 2: The Market for Mass Customization Today
  • Part 3: Solution Space Development: Understanding where Customers are Different
  • Part 4: Robust Process Design: Fulfilling Individual Customer Needs without Compromising Performance
  • Part 5: Choice Navigation: Turning Burden of Choice into an Experience
  • Part 6: Choice Navigation in Reality: A closer look into the Customization500
  • Part 7: Overcoming the Challenges of Implementing Mass Customization
  • Part 8: A Balanced View: Conclusions and Key Learnings
17 06, 2012

Book Review: Produktprogrammplanung und -Steuerung im Automobilbau: Practical Application of Mass Customization in the Car Industry

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:07+00:00 Juni 17th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial, Technologies & Enablers|

Mass Customization is often reduced to the technical frontend, the configurator, and the underlying economic concept. However, the (consequent) implementation of MC requires a lot of organizational adaption within the production process. This is especially true where a wide variety of product variants can be ordered by the customer and each individual constellation of chosen options has to be assigned a unique product identifier which precisely describes the customized product.

In his recently pubished book about production program planning, Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn (Volkswagen, Braunschweig University) takes a detailed look at the challenges car producers are confronted with when offering mass customized products, and demonstrates a scientific solution.
Since his book is only availible in German language, this book review will be in German, too!  3446413707

PPSimAutomobilbauPPS im Automobilbau
Produktionsprogrammplanung und -steuerung von Fahrzeugen und Aggregaten

Written by: Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn

Published by: Hanser Fachbuch
ISBN: 978-3-446-41370-2


Die Produktprogrammplanung und -Steuerung (PPS) ist eine der wichtigsten Stufen des Wertschöpfungsprozesses. Im Zeitalter industrieller Massenfertigung auf globalisierter Märkte ist die Wahl geeigneter Parameter und Steuergrößen für eine reibungslose und kostenoptimierte Durchführung aller erforderlichen Produktionsschritte entscheidender Faktor. Die Aufnahme von kundenindividuell gefertigten Massenprodukten im Sinne der Mass Customization in das eigene Produktportfolio kann die Komplexität der Planung bedeutend erhöhen. Neben standardisierten Produkten müssen zusätzlich individuell konfigurierte Kompositionen verfügbarer Optionen erfasst, eindeutig bezeichnet und verfolgt werden. In direkter Abhängigkeit von den kundenseits gewählten Produktmerkmalen muss –flexibel und zeitnah – eine möglichst optimale Planung des Produktionsprogramms erfolgen, deren Komplexität über diejenige der normalen industriellen PPS hinausgeht. 

Dr. Wilmjakob Herlyn, Manager der Volkswagen AG und Lehrbeauftragter an der TU Braunschweig, beschreibt in seinem neuesten Buch diesen kritischen Prozess der PPS am Beispiel der Automobilindustrie. Nach einer allgemeinen Einführung in die Thematik und einer Übersicht über die gängigen Herausforderungen der Praxis beschreibt er den hohen Grad der Differenzierung, die mit immer umfangreicheren Indivisualisierungsoptionen einhergeht. Die konsequente Anwendung des Mass Customization Konzepts führt im hochgradig arbeitsteiligen Automobilbau zu einer vervielfachung variabler Faktoren (Individualisierungsoptionen), die bei der PPS berücksichtigung finden müssen.

Schlüsselelement ist dabei eine eindeutige Bezeichnung eines jeden individuell bestellten Fahrzeugs, aus der alle relevanten Produktmerkmale eindeutig hervorgehen. Die individuelle Bezeichnung wird zum einmaligen Fingerabdruck des Produkts und unterstützt eine präzise Planung aller Produktionsprozesse, von der just-in-time Materialbereitstellung bis zur pünktlichen Auslieferung an den Kunden.

Dr. Herlyn stellt dabei das Modell einer Produktbeschreibung vor, die den Anforderungen an eine ideale Mengenalgebra gerecht wird. Bezeichnet wird das individuell georderte Produkt dabei mittels einer zusammengesetzten Nummer, deren Elemente die jeweils gewählten Produktmerkmale eindeutig beschreiben. Die Zusammensetzung der Produktnummer erfolgt dabei unter Beachtung bestimmter Regeln, die beispielsweise die Kombinierbarkeit verschiedener Merkmale – etwas der Farbe der Lackierung -  bestimmen. So entsteht eine flexible, individuelle und eindeutige Bezeichnung, die die Planung und Steuerung der auf die Bestellung folgenden Prozesse erheblich vereinfacht.

Die praktische Anwendung dieses Konzepts in Produktionsprogrammplanung und -Steuerung wird in den folgenden Kapiteln ausführlich und praxisnah demonstriert. Dabei wird sowohl auf die konkrete Umsetzung als auch die zugrundeliegenden mathematischen Modelle eingegangen. Trotz des teilweise hohen Komplexitätsgrads gelingt es Herlyn, die für den Praktiker relevanten Zusammenhänge verständlich und umfassend zu erklären. Anhand einer Vielzahl von Schaubildern und  Diagrammen werden die Korrelationen zwischen zunehmenden Kundenanforderungen an die Individualisierbarkeit ihres Fahrzeugs einerseits und den daraus entstehenden Problemen für die produzierende Industrie (und deren vor- und nachgelagerten Handel) andererseits erläutert.

Von der Produktionsplanung für Fahrzeuge und Aggregate über die Erstellung von Vertriebsprogrammplänen und Absatzprognosen, die flexible Produktionssteuerung im Normal- und Ausnahmefall bis zur Auftrags- und Produktionsverfolgung werden alle wesentlichen Aspekte des Wertschöpfungsprozesses anschaulich verdeutlicht. Dabei wird auch auf Spezialfälle wie besondere Fahrzeugtypen und unterschiedliches Kaufverhalten eingegangen.

Das Buch stellt sehr schön die spezifischen Probleme der Variantenvielfalt für die industrielle Fertigungsoptimierung am Beispiel der Automobilindustrie auch für Leser ohne detaillierte Kenntnis der PPS verständlich dar und zeigt Möglichkeiten auf, diese besser beherrschbar zu machen

11 06, 2012

Market Watch: New MC Platform by RPI Helps Stationery Retailers to Jump onto Personalization Business

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:25+00:00 Juni 11th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Long Tail, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers|

Courtesy of RPI, all rights reserved. Click to enlarge!Personalized stationery like paper, photobooks, greeting cards etc. with your individual text or design printed on them are not exactly a new idea. They are, however, a widely popular product for those who wish to express themselves with something more individual than what your average mall has to offer. Hence, selling personalized stationery is an interesting market model.

Unfortunately it comes with the usual issues of offering individualized products: You need a well-working, easy to operate configurator that lets your customers design their goods. You also need to have them printed and shipped within a relatively short amount of time. This as well as all the complementary logistics can be a severe obstacle on the path to the personlization market place.

If you are on the fence about offering individual stationery of any kind – may it be as a sole business model or to complement your already existing brand – you might be interested in investigating RPI's new storefront solution, specifically designed for stationery products. RPI hence is following the course of Zazzle, Cafepress, or other companies that successfully have established a MC platform.

I met the company on the last MCPC conference and was impressed from the general MC knowhow in their field. According to the company's latest press release their new can be "seamlessly embedded into any retailer's existing website" and let your customers choose from "hundreds of personalized products". RPI will take care of all the printing and delivery work so you can focus on your core business.

With the same press release we also learned about RPI's Courtesy of RPI, all rights reserved. Click to enlarge! new special product line for retailers in the  growing market of the pet industry. This might be a promissing approach, seeing how, according to Mintel, 76% of cat or dog owners consider their pets to be family members. If products like the "Woof Card" and the "Furfolio" (pet-) photo book sound appealing to you or if RPI's special cards for "fur-nouncements" to family and fellow pet owners are just what you need, you might want to check out their respective website for this product line, www.woofcards.com.


10 05, 2012

Executive Training: The Customer Centric Organization – three perspectives to profit from the fact that all people are different

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:16+00:00 Mai 10th, 2012|Customization Trends, Events, Technologies & Enablers|

Today I would like to inform you all about an intensive workshop that my colleagues Fabrizio Salvador and Martin Boehm as well as myself will be conducting at IE Business School in the beautiful city of Madrid, Spain. Three days dedicated to one of the most contributing factors in building and running a successful business: Putting the customer's desires first.  

Building a Customer-Centric Organization
Outperforming your Competition in Profitability 

June 18th – 20th, 2012
IE Business School, Madrid, Spain

Building a Customer-Centric Organization is a challenging three-day international executive program designed to help executives turn their customer's heterogeneous needs into an opportunity for value creation through the development of concrete capabilities applicable to any organizational setting by evaluating three fundamental aspects within their firms:

  • Their customer base
  • The state of their competition and 
  • The technological capabilities and innovation mindset available to them.

The stagnation of consumption and the proliferation of highly heterogeneous and diverse customer needs are forcing executives today to refocus their product and service portfolios and respond to their client’s needs or risk losing them to the competition.

Yet, for any organization to be able to manage this changing dynamic all aspects of the business must be aligned with the goal of understanding customers, revamping their product and service offerings to match the target customer-value proposition, while redesigning organizational culture, incentives systems and processes accordingly.

Today’s executives must develop a holistic view of the principles around which organizations can redesign themselves to tap into the benefits of customer-centricity and gain insight into the issues and solutions associated to such vast organizational change processes.

Participants will develop a sound understanding of how to:

  • Analyze the impact of customer centricity on revenues, profitability and growth. 
  • Understand the organizational implications of customer-centric strategies and the changes that need to be made.
  • Structure their organization by customer segments that establish ownership of the customer experience.
  • Delight their customers by delivering value propositions that competitors cannot match.
  • Achieve customer satisfaction by understanding and adapting to customer needs rapidly and efficiently.
  • Identify and exploit all customer channels.
  • Measure customer value for long-term profitability.
  • Implement a customer-focused culture within their organization.
  • Innovate by improving the value propositions offered to customers.

Additional information about this executive  program, a detailed schedule and all important registration data can be found on the workshop website (courtesy of IE Business School). I'm looking forward to discuss these challenging concepts with you in person in Madrid!

10 05, 2012

Participate at Idea Contest: Brining the Walking Frame (Rollator) into the Future

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:20+00:00 Mai 10th, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Deutsch (in German), Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers|

Our German readers can find a German version of this post here.

Stilsicher_logoMobility is one of the key requirements for maintaining an independent lifestyle up until a high age. Today, most seniors are able to depend on themselves – as more than 90% of all 65-years olds live under their own roof in good health.

But what happens, when leaving home, to go shopping or to meet with friends, is getting increasingly difficult with a higher age? What if somebody’s mobility declines, even though he or she does not depend on help permanently?

A small daily help in such situations can be a walking frame. In Germany, there are almost two million walking frames in use, with a yearly selling rate of another 500.000 pieces.

Unfortunately, not all of these are as fancy and safe as one would wish. Furthermore, the German consumer protection agency Stiftung Warentest found insufficiencies regarding stability and safety of walking frames tested last year.

But what could the superstar of walking frames look like? It has to be handy and safe, yet Stilsicher_teaser also has to incorporate personal desires concerning the design and accessories to overcome it's still somewhat dusty image.

To find answers to these questions, German League of Seniors, in cooperation with partners from both the business and academic world and sponsored by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has initiated a large-scale idea contest to improve the famous walking aid. 

In the context of the idea contest “Stil:sicher unterwegs, everybody is asked to give their input on how to improve the walking frame.

If you want to be on the team for developing completely new and innovative solutions for the walking frame of the future, here is your chance! May it be a GPS-assisted emergency notification system, an attached reading aid or a built-in minicomputer that helps to identify (individually) tolerable food: the only limit is your imagination. 

On the project homepage you can find more detailed information on the contest and the process of turning in your own ideas. Submissions are open until June 15th, 2012. You can also view and comment on already submitted ideas. Afterwards, a panel of experts will decide on the winning ideas which will be presented to interested companies and institutions and hopefully make it into future products. 

So, what is your idea (incremental or wild) to bring the walker /rollator into the future? Submit it here!

PS: The modern walker, the Rollator, of course itself is a lead user innovation, invented by the Swede Aina Wifalk in 1978, herself a polio sufferer.

26 04, 2012

Event: Québec Seeks Solutions. On May 15-16, the Problem Conference goes into its second edition in Québec City

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:13+00:00 April 26th, 2012|Crowdsourcing, Events, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers|

QEMS_site_webA while ago I posted about the second edition of "Québec seeks solutions", a unique problem solving conference hosted by Québec International and partners. Back then, companies were invited to turn in interesting challenges they are facing in their actual operations and which they did not find a satisfying solution for so far.When the deadline was reached, ten very interesting problems could be chosen to be the object of collaborative solution-finding during the conference.

Amongst them are challenges that every innovative company faces sooner or later, such as the question how to effectively and efficiently identify the individual knowledge of employees in large organizations or new ways to foster inter-company collaboration.

Now these Problems await their challengers. Everybody interested in solving real Problems for real Companies and  having the chance to network with innovation experts from around the world is invited to join the conference. The event will be hosted on the 15th and 16th of May, 2012 in the beautiful setting of Quebec City in Canada.

Just like in Dev 2010,we expect two days of very productive workshopping. Although it was hosted for the first time, the results of the 2010 edition have proven the concept. 

When surveyed about 4 months after the conference, 90% of the seeking companies have stayed in contact with people met during the event. Even after 10 months, 50%  were actively working on solutions suggested during the event and continued to collaborate with partners met there. All participating companies have expressed their interest to participate in another edition of the conference for both the high concentration of excellent innovators and the opportunities to connect to potential partners from all branches.

            Exemplary company, rated perceived impact of their participation

Registration is open now, detailed information can be found here. I'm looking forward to meet you there in person!

Also: There will be a special workshop for everyone who would like to host a "Problem conference" in their own local community!