The upsides of standardization

Standardization or generalization (depending on the application) gets a lot of bad press, and I agree that when it comes to things like medicine and 3D printing, etc. personalization is required.
But, I am here to also point to you that standardization is not all that bad, and here are a few upsides to it…

1. Eco-friendliness
This may come as a surprise to you. I have been spending some time in India and bought a number of products from international brands.
Their manuals are in 20 different languages, which seems like a waste to me really.
Anyone who can afford these goods has to speak English to be a global player. Of course for the next few years, companies can get away by speaking the local language, but if they do not adapt to the global standard, competitors will take away their business.

e.g. If Nokia stuck only to Finnish, they will not be able to sell in the US and India.

2. Communication
The US still uses miles although the rest of the world uses the metric system.
There is a classic story about the problems with this; that of a disastrous Mars mission, which prompted NASA to standardize on the metric system.
Thus, it is important to communicate in the same language to avoid miscommunication and errors. Standardizing on a common medium saves on so many costs; translators, Quality checking for each language, etc.
As companies expand, they will standardize on a single language to cut down on costs.

Thus, having a standard way of communication cuts down on costs.

3. Leveling the playing field
Many companies and people hide behind their local language or trade barriers.
Electrical sockets come to mind, and more recently different phone charging sockets on your phone.
Phone sockets are now standardized because of many reasons.
I see many countries taking steps to standardize electrical sockets. You can buy a US plug type in electrical strips in India for example.

Ultimately, the one who benefits from all this is the consumer, which is a good thing.

As you can see, there are benefits to standardization also, and there is no general rule for standardization or generalization versus personalization (aka customisation) to be better, and it all depends on the application.


About Ra

Software Engineer (worked in corporations to healthcare start-ups), Geek, Musician, Artist, Fellow Human - living in the covergence space of healthcare, software, interaction design, the quantified self and genetics, music and spirituality
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