Going behind Ford Model-T black…

It all started October 1, 1908. Until then each car was built from scratch for every customer (custom-made), specially designed just for him, and thus was very expensive and very difficult to maintain[1] and repair.


After Henry Ford cars were no longer built singularly for just one customer. Cars were built the same way for everybody. No fancy cars; just THE CAR, just one design, identical features and even the same colour, black.

It was a huge success. But slowly things changed.

We now have the possibility of choosing the car we like more among the available ones and we may choose among a lot of different options.

This approach is common to most of the products and services offered on the market, but, oddly enough, NOT in most of the internet based services[2].

The last time you asked your bank to buy an home banking service did you get a list of different products to choose among, a large list of options?

Most probably no!

You got an username, an one time password key and the indication that the PIN will be delivered later by physical mail.

There are a lot of different customers, there are a lot of functionalities and possible operations but apparently the one-size-fits-all philosophy is still there!

We should offer different products with the possibility of choosing different functions and different procedures. As an example a customer that makes a payment every week will love multiple step page wizard helping him step by step, but a customer that makes 10 payments a day will love to have a single page fast multiple payments form.

The system could also continuously analyze customer's activities and propose the alternatives that seems more suitable for that particular customer. Of course log and behavioural analysis could also be an important instrument to help us building new and better ways of delivering services.

The idea of adaptive system is not new, it is somehow an extension of the old idea of "programming by examples": big data and computing power are the enabling technologies that could make it a reality.
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[1] The most important feature of the Ford Model-T was to be the first one builded with interchangeable parts, before each car had different parts and in case of failure it was necessary to adapt it, the chain production is only a by-product of this approach. This is something that should teach us a lot of things, but is another story.

[2] The same concept applies to most of the software packages and operating systems, but again another story.

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