The new economy confuses a lot of traditional businesses that have old mindsets. The old formula of producing something uniform, similar and mass is limited in reach, appeal and effectiveness. Our problems are increasingly unique and dissimilar to everyone else’s. We may have access to mass tools, however, the processes and application of resources are specific. One size does not fit all.
If you have deep resources or an old mindset, then one way to get to the goal of solving problems is to have something custom developed. In the world of hardware, this may require custom tooling. For virtual and information systems, this is likely means a software developer producing thousands of lines of fresh code.
The problem is that it is brittle. Your requirements have to be specific. The cycles are long. The building blocks have to be created which takes a long time and can be costly.
When you get clear and change is required, your changes become expensive. Everything is customized. It is like having a vintage car with problems. It is hard to locate parts and making them with a fabrication shop may be the only answer assuming you have clear specs.
Customization, on the other hand, is a more favorable strategy. Make use of the components, systems and platforms that are available today. This keeps your energy and resources focused on bringing pieces together to solve business problems. The approach of customization is having enough of a framework to avoid the long cycles involved in starting from scratch. Furthermore, you get the benefits of continual iteration and trying solutions that are inexpensive to change.
When I work with clients, I help them understand how customization affords opportunities for getting to answers quickly and more cost-effectively than in times past. It is very difficult to be perfect. Usually an idea needs to have reality as a gut check to further refine how something will work.
Your world is different than others. Your solutions need to fit your world. Instead of reinventing the wheel, pursue customization as the answer. It will lead you to a more flexible and pragmatic solution.
What problems are you trying to solve that customization makes sense for? Feel free to comment.