Remember the time when a mobile was just an instrument used to make a phone call on the move and came in limited price bundles? That was the level of customization offered by wireless service providers and OEMs. Today, the end customer demands a complete smart phone experience with abilities like plugging in his cable provider to schedule DVR recordings, reading his email, view real-time traffic, and weather news etc. All this, while continuing to provide him with the ability to talk and send messages. So, an AT&T partners with a Samsung which in turn partners with Google to provide the necessary platform and connectivity to the smart phone. Other providers like Comcast, CNN and others leverage this platform to provide geo-synced news and weather. Very soon, service features like home security controls and smart home controls will become popular on the smart phone too. This will add at least a dozen more vendors and multiple services to this already complex ecosystem. Such a multi-vendor eco system requires a level of standardization to the platforms and interfaces across these vendors. At the same time there is a need to accommodate the customer's demands and preferences of service...
Two trends are ruling the market today. One, a customer who is at the center of the value creation process and is demanding to co-create a unique experience and two, the marketplace, which is rapidly transforming into an eco-system with multiple enterprises converging and providing the customers with the final experience. In the past, the enterprises were required to provide only a limited degree of flexibility to cater to customization at a market segment level. In an ideal world with a lesser limitation on resources, this would have led to customization of ALL IT assets to cater individual consumers with complete personalization. However, with the growing cost pressures on IT and business, there is a significant bias towards standardization as an underlying philosophy towards IT investments.
Standardization, with itself, brings a quiver full of benefits which helps cater to a growing customer base. It not only helps improve the speed to market but also helps the business operations react better to customer demands and be modular across the value chain. All of this at lower operational and maintenance costs! The adoption and proliferation of shared and managed service models across IT and business operations are great examples of how 'standardization', as a practice, has proved beneficial.
While shared and managed service models have reached their maturity, there is still a burning need to provide complete personalization. This has resulted in a continuous tug of war across the application landscape where the enterprise wants to standardize the business operations and IT assets AND yet meet the consumer's demand for an increasingly personalized product experience.
Its remarkable how configurability has been incorporated into the concept of "standardization" to deliver successfully in such a demanding environment. The questions that pose themselves are ones of equilibrium between the past that has seen standardized IT assets and the future of customer driven personalization of services. Where do IT organizations draw the line between standardization and personalization? Will standardized apps offer the experience that customers are demanding?
In a situation where "Personalization" is the buzz word, will standardized applications meet the expectations of the consumers? And increasingly the answer to this question is defining the roadmap to profitable growth into the future.