September 28, 2009

Customers are also suppliers sometimes

The other day, I bought Bell meatballs at a COOP shop in Zürich.


Photo source

Some time ago, I also contributed with ideas to Bell on Atizo, an open innovation platform.

It’s an interesting trend, I think, that customers and other people have, through their participation on open innovation platforms and by communicating on various Web 2.0 tools, the opportunity to get involved, i.e. in principle become suppliers of, for example, feedback / inputs / ideas / improvement suggestions / concepts etc. which the respective company can use to make even better and/or cheaper products and/or services.

As I thought a bit more about this phenomenon, I wondered at which supermarkets it is possible for individuals to deliver, for example, fruit, vegetables, bread, marmelade and/or other homemade products to the store. Which supermarkets have you heard of that open up for this possibility of involving external people to participate in generating added value? The question became relevant to me as I was baking a cake some time ago (see photo below) and thought that it would have been great, if the opportunity had existed to also make other people happy by delivering part of the cake to a supermarket.


Regarding this topic, I stumpled upon the following extract on page 74 of the book The Future of Work by Thomas W. Malone:
"What if many tasks currently done by large companies were done instead by temporary combinations of small companies and independent contractors? Taking this idea further, what if most businesses consisted of one single person?"

For more information about different ways of organizing, have a look at this presentation:

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