Webinar: The Next Gen of Mass Customization: User Manufacturing, Instant Companies, and Customer Co-Creation (Nov 29, 2007 on your desktop)

How a new infrastructure is enabling consumers to become instant manufacturers – and your future competitor — 10% discount for MC&OI Blog readers

Webinar on the future of mass customization

I am coming back to your desktop. After the large success of an earlier webinar on mass customization, London based Pure Inisghts is organizing a second webinar on the theme, this time around my new favorite topic of user manufacturing.

The topic: We are used to have a networked laser printer on every desk in our office and in every home, enabling us to print documents on the spot which a few decades ago demanded a specialized manufacturer. The same may be happening with the production of many other goods. Today new production technologies („fabbing“) and advanced design software allow average users to produce almost everything – on their own desk. Welcome to the factory in your kitchen.

This session will discuss the upcoming user manufacturing trend, a development that recently is taking shape in larger scope and scale: User manufacturing refers to a public available software, manufacturing, and distribution infrastructure that enables creative users and customers to design, build, and sell own creations to a larger public – without the traditional investments in setting up a business. User manufacturing supplements – or substitutes – mass customization strategies which many companies have implemented. It also may become the most efficient strategy to serve the long tail of variants in many industries.

Consider Spreadshirt, one of the world’s largest producers of graphic t-shirts. This company just allows everyone to create an own assortment of designs, and then sell this assortments in highly targeted retail outlets, online and offline, to a small market segment the user knows best. Thus, Spreadshirt does not have to predict the long tail of heterogeneity of fashion products, but just focuses on allowing users to create and sell this assortment by their own.

User manufacturing is enabled by three main technologies: (1) Easy-to-operate design software that allows users to transfer their ideas into a design. (2) Design repositories where users upload, search, and share designs with other users. This allows a community of loosely connected users to develop a large range of applications. (3) Easy-to-access flexible manufacturing technology. New rapid manufacturing technologies („fabbing“) finally deliver the dream of translating any 3-D data files into physical products — even in you living room. Combining this technology with recent web technologies can open a radical new way to provide custom products along the entire „long tail“ of demand.

User manufacturing builds on the notion that users are not just able to configure a good within the given solution space (mass customization), but also to develop such a solution space by their own and utilize it by producing custom products. As a result, customers are becoming not only co-designers, but also manufacturers, using an infrastructure provided by some specialized companies.

The webinar will discuss recent trends and case examples of the user manufacturing trend. We also will compare the business models of companies which are building on the user manufacturing trend and which implement and operate the underlying infrastructure ´for creative users to become manufacturers.

WebinarPlanned session outline:

– A short review of conventional mass customization thinking

– Which recent trends and developments enhance these strategies and how mass customization is related to “The Long Tail” phenomena

– What is user manufacturing, and which trends does this strategy support?

– What are the components of an infrastructure that supports user manufacturing?

– A review of business models of established companies and recent startups which already successfully benefit from the opportunities of user manufacturing

– A discussion of the major challenges and open issues in this domain

– Session wrap-up: Idea for further action

To register, please go to http://www.pure-insight.com/webinars/mass-customization-next-generation and use promotional code aix (case sensitive!) wenn registering for a 10% discount.

Note: You also can download the webinar after its initial live broadcast – but only when joining live, you can interact and ask direct questions.

All further information can be found here.


Context information

– If you prefer to see the content of this webinar in action, a seminar on Fabbing and User generated Manufacturing in Essen, Germany, provides a great opportunity on Nov 22.

– My earlier posts on user manufacturing

Article in CNN online on the fabbing trend

Article in New Scientist on the fabbing trend

Article in Make magazine on how to use a fabbing device

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.