The world is moving towards the on-demand model. People only want to buy what they need, when they need it. There is no need to buy a full music album CD because you can simply download the songs that you actually like, when you want to. You do not need to purchase servers to set up a new business – simply hire the space you need and grow as you need. Even the advertisements you see today are based on your online activities. Google even offers to provide different search results to different individuals based on various factors such as your location. Everything is tailored, just for you.
The lack of uniformity comes with its own challenges. But today, and in the foreseeable future, this is what the consumers want. Several companies today are simply disrupting existing businesses by adding the as-a-service model. For instance, let us consider Saleforce.com, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM that has been tremendously successful, leaving behind any boxed CRM solutions in the market. The secret behind its success is universal access and cost-effectiveness. A small company can pay less and purchase their services and expand (or contract) as per their needs without having to buy or sell any infrastructure.
Similarly, another excellent example is Pandora – the Internet radio. You can tell Pandora what songs you like, or dislike, and it will find you other similar songs. It is an ongoing, evolving process that helps you customize the radio experience.
Just a few days ago, a teenager launched a top-selling news app for Apple’s app store that summarizes thousands of articles per minute. The rationale behind this innovation was that people do not have time to read full news articles and want a summary. The statistics clearly state that the teenager was correct.
One wonders how far this personalization will go. Is reading the news I want, listening to the music I love, viewing ads that are only relevant to me necessarily a good thing? How will such business models impact the society at large? Will the trends of disrupting through customization going to continue in the future?