By Tim Myers, CIO, Liaison Technologies
Mass customization, as defined by BusinessDictionary.com, is the production of personalized or custom-tailored goods or services to meet consumers’ diverse and changing needs at near mass production prices. As a competitive racecar driver, I like to use cars as easy examples of mass customization. When you buy a new car, you select the color; the interior; and have the option to upgrade the standard model with features such as heated mirrors, sunroof, or a turbo engine (definitely get the turbo!). The ability to determine the features of your new car is a result of mass customization.
It’s relatively easy to apply the concept of mass customization to a tangible good such as your next car or the stylish messenger bag you carry your laptop in, but it’s not as easy to apply it to data solutions. We don’t ask whether you want those aggregated data sets in flame red, silver metallic, or black pearl.
But just because it’s harder to imagine mass customization in a data services setting doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. In fact, if data management and integration providers want to stay relevant, they’ll have to embrace mass customization. In the age of “there’s an app for that,” the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional enterprise applications is being replaced by many smaller, more granulated applications that better serve the needs of the data. As a result, integration is growing more, not less, complex.
Customers don’t want to choose from inflexible and fragmented options that constrain the flow of data any more than they want café lattes with too much foam. They are no longer interested in cookie cutter solutions, but rather, are looking for custom solutions created just for them that provide exactly the scope and scale they’re seeking. Not only does the customer want what they want when they want it, they also want reassurances that the custom solution is capable of evolving and growing (i.e. becoming even more customized) over the long term.
From the perspective of data solution providers, the challenge is incorporating this shift to mass customization as an organizational discipline; it cannot be accomplished merely through the adoption of a new technology or sales technique. In the case of Liaison, we’ve built out our cloud integration platform in such a way that the basic components can be repeatedly leveraged, but there exists a top-level abstract layer in which customizations can be made. This aligns with the strategy of mass customization where the point of product or service differentiation occurs late in the supply network for the purposes of keeping production costs as close to mass production levels as possible.
As data continues to balloon in volume, variety, and velocity, customers will increasingly demand more complex and tailored solutions to cater to this incredibly valuable asset. Are you one of them?