15 years ago the task most organisations were applying themselves to was “mass customisation”. How do we mix the cost benefits of mass production with the individual needs of the customer?

Dell redefined the PC market by finding ways, as retailer Zara transformed fashion retailing, and Toyota transformed manufacturing cars, and beyond. 

The task now for many industries has changed a lot, it is now a question of how they deal with “mass amateurisation” a term coined by Clay Shirky in his great book “Here comes everybody“, of their services. As the communication tools available have removed the power previously held through communication and supply chains.

The obvious example is publishing, in all its forms, but it is also happening in almost all services businesses. Stock-brokers now compete with low cost/transaction  providers, accounting software has removed the bread and butter of many accounting practices as any office worker could now do the accounts, the list is almost endless, but the process is just getting quicker and easier as storage and data services migrate to the “cloud” reducing the marginal costs of data storage and communication to almost zero.

The need to be differentiated in ways meaningful to specific customers has never been greater.