I love the bold possibilities for the future presented here. A machine that scans your body measurements and prints garments for you at home? Sign me up. The watch is a great example of design innovation: it makes me wonder how far fashion could be pushed. Perhaps the materials we are used to wearing as clothing will soon fade away. Certainly, as with supply chain, any materials with environmentally hazardous byproducts could be replaced by better alternatives. Could Lady Gaga’s “meat dress” become a house hold item? Would economics eventually bring costs so low that people could start printing a new outfit for each day? Certainly the Halloween costume stores would be in trouble. Fashion is an excellent example of a CPG that could spread like wildfire as 3D printing becomes more widespread. I’d be interested to know if machine learning could eventually replace the designers too. With algorithms analyzing past (and predicting future) trends, and 3D printers producing garments, it seems the entire design industry could be internalized into a computer. I wonder how Steve Jobs would feel about ‘1,000 coats in your pocket’.
Buzzfeed faces a massive uphill credibility climb if it wants to be a main player in news. In an era where our own government discourages trusting media and fake articles permeate our social media networks to the extent that elections are influenced, the idea that a website known by many for “cat memes” could be a trusted name in news seems farfetched. I do love the idea of SecureDrop and leveraging its user base to maximize its access to information – certainly there are myriad stories that could break via user contributions that the journalist team would never snuff out. But I can’t imagine the magnitude of the fact-checking department needed to peruse every “tip” that comes in. It makes me think of artists reading through YouTube comments searching for constructive feedback. Maybe, in the thousands of comments, a visionary has a creative idea that no one has yet thought of: but you’ll have to sort through a lot of “lollllzzzz wut is this. quit your job??!!?” before you find it.
It surprises me that Nike hasn’t been more vocal about its victories in this space. That seems to be their MO – and the fact that Eliud Kipchoge won the London Marathon wearing their 3D printed shoes almost writes it’s own commercial! Frankly I’m surprised I hadn’t even heard about that. Perhaps for the moment Nike is being conservative about their technology for fear of creating TOO much consumer demand off the bat and, as you mention, struggling to scale. What I’m curious to know is how much of the current production process can be replaced by 3D printing. Rapid prototyping is an obvious benefit, and printing the Flyknit upper seems like another step forward. What happens when the entire product can be created by a 3D printer? Will Nike fully automate their production process? As the price of 3D printing declines, will their cost savings be passed on to the consumer? Is it feasibly that some day soon, I have my own 3D printer at home and buying a Nike shoe simply requires that I purchase and download a digital blueprint to send to my own printer?
“Open For Business” as a slogan leaves some room for interpretation: are they “opening” their private operations to new innovators? Or are they so desperate that they must remind people that they are, in fact, not closed? Certainly when West Virginia adopted “Open For Business” as their state slogan, it was the later – their coal-based industry collapsed leading up to and during the Great Recession. With MBTA, the meaning seems to be somewhere in the middle.
As is, this “digital suggestion box” seems too idealistic to work properly. As mentioned in the article, most submissions have been from for-profit companies looking for contracts. Best guess as to why academic institutions haven’t gotten involved: a lack of incentives. And, sadly, a public ‘thank you’ online from the MBTA is unlikely to change their tune. I think the MBTA needs to offer financial incentives to encourage participation at the highest level, otherwise they are going to be sorting through half suggestions of self-interest from corporations, and half frustrated riders complaining about issues on the busses and trains. Given they are budget conscious and cash strapped, they may need an innovative idea as to how to create financial incentives. Perhaps that could be the next prompt in their “proposals policy”.
Coincidentally I just read another piece on Amazon Go, where a similar automated replenishment capacity will likely take hold, albeit less via predictive models, more by analyzing real time consumer behavior. It seems likely that in a fairly short time, all e-commerce companies will employ some level of automated replenishment – does OTTO even have an exclusivity agreement with Blue Yonder? I’d be very curious to hear how a data analytics firm with its roots at CERN lab ended up forecasting fashion orders. But I digress.
Does the company have any sort of predictive algorithm for product returns? Usually returns are huge cost factors for these types of e-commerce companies. I’d be curious to know if return predictions are forecasted and included in future replenishment plans.
Great piece. I expect that inventory management and supply chains will see huge benefits from this model as well, given that customer demand can be sent up the chain instantaneously. To that same end, I see a lot of value for brands who could view live data of customer purchasing behaviors and use that information in their product development. Assuredly, Amazon would charge for these types of subscriptions and increase the earning potential of these stores.
Privacy is the standout concern in my mind. Given the relative distrust of the government and its handling of domestic espionage, having facial recognition scanners in grocery stores that track everything individual customers will certainly face some public skepticism.