And although the ideas around the products are essentially the same (“let’s build something”), the functionality of those toys is fundamentally so different that one appears to the other as magic. In one, you use real-world materials to unleash four-wall creativity, in the other, you can build things in a virtual world using code. That’s a long way to travel in one hundred years. So let’s take a smaller step into the future: what do we think will change for other consumer products in the next decade?
This means data. You can learn a lot from your customer’s shopping behaviors, where they go, their general health, what they read, when they eat, their favorite Bieber song, and so on. In an age where trackable data will continue to become more robust, smarter—how will you tailor your product and marketing to reach them? Perhaps at some point in the future, I won’t even need to order a new pair of socks; they’ll be proactively delivered the day that the data predicts I get the first hole in them. My socks will know me better than I do.
With the ability to crowdsource ideas and crowd-build new products, the lifecycle of development is condensing. Iterative prototypes can be developed concurrently both inside and outside of an organization, which means the speed to success and speed to failure will be accelerated. Companies will need to learn to embrace both and become resilient so they can get onto the next new idea.
Have you heard of Meow Wolf, the Infinity Room, the Ice Cream Museum? These places have no agenda or product, but folks will stand in line to take pictures of themselves in these environments and can’t wait to recommend that their friends do the same. If you’ve got a product, you might need to create a place where that product can be showcased with joy – regardless of its immediate consumer application.
What if the moment a new product is launched, instead of having to wait for factories to manufacture it for me and the transportation industry to ship it to me and for a store to sell it to me… I just downloaded the design and printed it at home? Are you prepared for this shift in your supply chain? And even more importantly, are you ready to start considering your products recipes and your customers producers and collaborators?
By Rob Hoehn
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.