Strategy – Is Standardization is good thing? I think not!

When some one says Standards or Standardization, what comes to mind? Maybe something that is well known or accepted. In my mind the term commodity comes to mind, which means when something is a standard you have to work really hard to differentiate yourself. This problem is even more acute when you develop products within the confines of your organization.  The general model that worked in the past was that when people developed in a waterfall model. 
                   Standardization also means everyone can do what you do just as effectively and in a cost efficient way. In short when you have a Standard is easy to duplicate what you do and then worst thing happens, you compete on price and not on value.

Value  =  Worth/Cost 

Based on the formula, when you standardize i.e. a standard way of doing things. This means it can developed cheaply and value diminishes because there are many suppliers in the market place that do what you do and hence the worth of what you do lessens and hence value is lowered. In the above formula  worth can be expanded to the following (thanks to Baldor electric company)

Value(product) = (Quality(product) x Service(product)) / ( Cost(product) x Time(product))

So if the quality (from your clients perspective) of your product is indistinguishable from the competition and if the services to implement your product are expensive or not (even though it is standardized). Cost to make the product is less due to standardization and the time to make the product might even be less. You might be able to eek out some value but that value proposition is temporary, eventually (based on the above formula) the value number drop below zero and your product will be a commodity (because it already on a downward trajectory). 
 Standardization is not all doom and gloom, look at it another way if you want to broaden adoption then  go for it (you might not make a significant amount of dollars in the process but people usually recognize the utility of the product). Now  broader adoption can happen if you develop something that your client base values but if you are stuck between  a rock and a hard place, standardization maybe your only option.
Some people may argue that the Windows operating system is a standard and it is still  making money for it’s company, to that I would say yes. But in it’s hey day the switching costs were high for an average user which is why the Windows Operating System enjoyed a high value status. Today there are a lot of substitutes that provide a standardize UI experience, which is why there is now Windows 8 in order to differentiate itself from the standard operating systems.  When you fall into this kind of commodity trap the best way out is to disrupt yourself otherwise if you don’t your competition will do it for you and it will be too late for you to react.
Appreciate your thoughts on this one.
You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments
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