CES and Macworld--Where Consumers Become Producers

Bruce Nussbaum

The avalanche of stuff--and I do mean stuff--coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is overwhelming but one trend is clear to me: companies that want to succeed must be in the enabling business, not the product or even the service business. Today, you have to build capabilities of entertainment, shopping, education, employment, you name it. Consumers increasingly demand to be their own producers and companies must collaborate and co-create with them. All the talk about platforms and convergence and content is about people building their very own products and services to fit their lives. Macworld will be no different from CES.

Sam Lucente, the design/brand experience/innovation genius at HP said it all at a recent HP/IDSA conference when he blurted out--to his own amazement--the epiphany that designers can no longer design products alone, using their brilliance and magic. They are no longer in the business of product or service design. Whether it is consulting with consuming people on the streets of Chicago or in the villages of India, design is all about integration of those you design for into the core process of design. Look at all the "tricking out" of cars these days. It's one of the biggest things out of the LA Auto Show and will be a big theme in Detroit next week. All the hot car sites let you trick out your new auto and Business Week is teaming up with JD Power to launch a new Auto Channel that to do even more for individual customization.

And it's not all about products either. Take Google and Yahoo and all the portals and sites that are now name brands trusted by people around the world. BuzzMachine notes a smart Ad Age piece about these new brands and warns that people trust them because they allow individuals to find, choose, edit, manage and just their own sources of information on their own. Gap, Starbucks, Levy's Verizon, Motorola, Citibank--I don't have to continue. You get it.

We're moving way beyond the "consumer experience" here folks. It's time to dust up on C.K. Prahalad's book on Co-Creation. It's the post-design, Big D Design Era. Or something like it. I'm just beginning to understand it. Time for a book I think. So please help. What do you think? Give me twelve chapter titles and I'll give you the next stage in the evolution of design--and capitalism. CEOs take note. This discussion could determine your future and the future of your corporation's global success.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.