In my last blog post I talked about what Mass Customization is in the sense of IoT.
This post will focus more on how you can achieve or implement the concept of Mass Customization in your own manufacturing.
The key to coordinating the process modules is a linkage system with four key attributes.
Processes must be able to be linked together as quickly as possible. First, the product or service each customer wants must be defined rapidly, preferably in collaboration with the customer.
Mass customizers like Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, and LSI Logic use special software that records customer desires and translates them into a design of the needed components. Then the design is quickly translated into a set of processes, which are integrated rapidly to create the product or service.
Beyond the initial investment required to create it, the linkage system must add as little as possible to the cost of making the product or service. Many service businesses have databases that make all the information available they know about their customers and their requirements to all the modules, so nothing new needs to be regenerated.
USAA, for example, uses image technology that can scan and electronically store paperwork and a companywide database, so every representative who comes into contact with a customer knows everything about him or her.
An IBM executive once commented, correctly, “You always ship your organization.” What he meant was, if you have seams in your organization, you are going to have seams in your product, such as programs that do not work well together in a computer system. Since a dynamic network is essentially constructing a new, instant team to deal with every customer interaction, the occasions for “showing the seams” are many indeed.
The recent adoption of case workers or case managers is one way service companies like USAA and IBM Credit Corporation avoid this. These people are responsible for the company’s relationship with the customer and for coordinating the creation of the customized product or service. They ensure that no seams appear.
Companies that are still predominantly continuous improvers may have the most trouble attaining this attribute. The need to create instant teams for every customer in a dynamic network leaves no time for the kind of extensive team building that goes on in continuous-improvement organizations. The instant teams must be frictionless from the moment of their creation, so information and communications technologies are mandatory for achieving this attribute.
These technologies are necessary to find the right people, to define and create boundaries for their collective task, and to allow them to work together immediately without the benefit of ever having met.