Nearly 3 years ago I wrote an article entitled The Future of Retail, which I just republished here. Amazon has just opened a physical book store, and I predict this will evolve into more than just books as time goes on. I'm going to call this a successful prediction, though I still think that a company like Best Buy has the most to gain from adopting this model.
What I didn't see coming to retail, though, is 3D Printing. With companies experimenting with custom printing parts on-demand for customers
, we have to ask ourselves what this means. What does this mean for those of us who deal with the data for SKU based and configurable products?
What does this mean for the intellectual property of traditional manufacturing companies? If my company develops an improved drill bit and Lowe's can print a titanium one, the 3D definition of how to make that drill bit becomes all important. It's possible that the ship has already sailed
on this point. I can't share too much more right now, but it's my job to figure this out.