Customization is taking nearly every industry by storm

From custom-fit sneakers to modular smartphones, industries are using modern technology to trade mass production for mass customization. This age of customization invites participation by the customer and ensures that their unique needs are met by the product.

However, our team has encountered some resistance to this trend in recent projects. Our customers cringe at the mention of custom systems. The root of these feelings seems to be a history of poorly built, overly complicated, enormously expensive technology that created more problems than it solved.

Instead, many of our customers prefer “off-the-shelf” and “out-of-the-box” solutions. In other words, they want to minimize customizations as much as possible.

Technology customization continuum

Customization: a state or a continuum?


Not every problem requires a built-from-scratch solution, but at the same time, ready-made solutions can’t fix every problem.

For example, if you were shopping for a suit, you might go one of two ways.

You could buy a bespoke suit. A tailor takes your exact measurements, you pick out specific fabrics and styles, and choose every detail down to the buttons. The tailor spends weeks or months putting together a suit that only fits you, has cerulean paisley fabric no one else could pull off, but costs you an arm and a leg. It’s exactly right, but this suit might not fit you or be your style in a few years.

Or, you could go with the off-the-rack option. It only comes in one size, style, and color. The pants are a little long and the jacket is a little wide, but it’s the same one everyone else is wearing. On your friend, it looks great. But it hides your figure and makes you look shorter than you are. If you spill on it, your dry cleaner knows exactly what to do because they’ve cleaned a thousand of the exact same suit. You won’t outgrow it, because it never fit you to begin with.

Neither of these ends of the spectrum seems ideal. They may even seem silly.

Is there another way?


Luckily, these are not the only options. Between custom-built and off-the-shelf, there are levels of configuration. In keeping with the suit metaphor, the first level might be hemming the off-the-rack suit. It’s not a huge change, but the suit will fit you better. A level further might be tailoring the off-the-rack suit. Taking it in in some places and hemming the length could be enough to make it fit you perfectly.

Similarly, your technology doesn’t need to be custom-built to fit your business’s needs, but a purely off-the-shelf solution may not be enough. ‘Hemming’ your system could mean shortening the list of available fields. ‘Tailoring’ it might mean adding custom fields or changing field labels to reflect company terminology.

Most of our customers operate in the rare disease life sciences industry and have some unique data or process needs. Finding patients when they’re quite literally one in a million requires specific data, advanced algorithms, and other functional requirements or use cases that you won’t find in your run-of-the-mill, one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box, off-the-shelf solutions.

How does your technology fit?


Where on the continuum of customization can your technology support or even exploit your market differentiators? With so many levels of configuration and customization available, we encourage you to rethink your aversion to it.

Contact us to talk about what level of customization is best for your business.

Technology customization
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