Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How Customization Is Revolutionizing Our World

The work I'm almost nearly most excited about within our wide array of services at LoftyInc is our technology incubation and acceleration work at the Wennovation Hub. This past week, I was in Kenya, attending the DEMO Africa Investor's Summit to support one of our teams- OTGPlaya as they pitched their exciting new media platform product, and was opportune to meet various young start-ups doing exciting work. Upon three days in Nairobi, and catching the flight to back to Houston I tried to tie my thoughts around the single underlying trend in the innovations I had seen, and it kept coming back to me: CUSTOMIZATION

With Linda Kozlowski, Evernote's VP, Int Marketing
& Wennovation Hub CEO Wole  at Nairobi. Evernote is
Customizing their Way to Global Billions
Sitting next to a Marketing Executive from a Pyramid Marketing Company, offering Tea Products as a medium for selling wellness and entrepreneurship in Africa, I undertook an analysis of what I was thinking and what she was saying (not that I was buying; but it is nevertheless relevant). 

Forget what you hear that Social Network is the big deal, the even bigger deal is the mad revolution now taking the world of manufacturing, politics, religion, relationships, business, even life-work balance by storm. My discussion with our Tea executive begun from the point of view of exploring various business models for marketing. At our hub, we have companies experimenting with business models that allows individuals sponsor events and as such media access for others (it is a gift after all, and people are more generous on a personal level than on a corporate level). This business model is taking the twist out of the Google Ad for free search model, and personalizing (i.e. customizing) it on the most personal level. Companies will need to customize their business models, the traditional direct sales, pyramid marketing and even online approach will not work. As people demand customization, new paradigm must be explored. Hybrids will need to be developed. 

Take the world of 3-D Printing, and what that will mean for manufacturing in the future. A world where you can instantly design and deliver products customized to meet people's needs, will change the paradigm of distribution networks, payment systems and demand. Indeed, while consumer product manufacturing is taking the wholesome lead with 3-D Printing, its permanent requirement to scale may actually prevent this sector from seeing full customization potentials before others.

Food is one area where I see (talking about my Tea Selling Pyramid Network Executive) an opportunity to disrupt how we eat and what we eat with customization. Imagine a world where you order your food without specific ingredients most in tune to your health profile? Your genomic profile? You can remove those ingredients you don't like or are bad for you, and you can order to fit. You go online on say Nestle website, input your ingredients, and samples get sent to you. You order more, and heck you now have a Busanga Customized Coffee palate and I can get on Twitter to promote just that to friends on my network. Guess what? Will Nestle pay me for that free promotion? Now, I -the consumer -is making money as I have innovated my way by customization and lowered my own procurement cost thereof.

Coke is doing something interesting. Been to the United Kingdom lately? You can order Coke with your own name. Now these are early days, and those names are pre-printed- but it points in one direction: customization.

The sectors where Customization is even disrupting most are the most intangible ones like Politics, Religion and Relationships; and wait a minute: work/life balance. Most individuals I know of, at least my circle, are choosing not to live to work but to work to live. This is forcing employers to device new schedules, new ways to accommodate employees and retain talents. One size fits all company policies don't work for the millennial, and any traditional thinking in this area is bound to lead to failure. At LoftyInc for example, I bet you more people in our organization work after midnight than before it..that is the way they like it, and we thus like it too! 

In Politics, Egypt for example have been demanding a customized leader for the past three years; it has led to some very interesting outcomes. Morsi thought he was a savior, and oh boy was he surprised. The public and electorate are demanding leaders that mirror their demand. This led to the rise of a lanky Senator from Illinois to the world's most powerful position in 2008, and it is checking a whole lot of tyrants around the world. Even Tea Party in the US is a creation of political customization demands! People are demanding customized leaders, and until their desires are satisfied then coup by Twitter will be the norm! Need I go into religion, and how the lines between the world religions are increasingly blurred and how humanism and desire to be the very best person and serve the next man is now leading to massive losses in Church Pews and Mosque Grounds. About time, if you ask me.

All is not well with customization however; followers will demand more, and leaders will be stretched.Convention and culture for all the bad things it yields, serve stable purposes in business, society and among mankind- now those things are endangered. The survivors will be those that can harness the positive energies of customization. Billion dollar companies will declare bankruptcy (ask Blockbuster, as Netflix destroyed its business model and deftly pivoted to another even as Wall Street complained). 

In case you miss it, even your relationships are getting customized. Marriages and dating relationships are no longer what they used to be. If you think they're, then you have a surprise waiting for you!  


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