Supply chains are made possible by the art and science of logistics: getting the right things to the right places at the right time, at the lowest possible cost.
Demand chains – or to be more precise, demand webs – are made possible by the art and science of personal information logistics: the right information to and from the right person at the right place in the right format at the right time, at the lowest possible cost.
Personal information logistics will become the pivotal service infrastructure of 21st economies. Using personal information logistics, marketers will be able to make sure customers get the right information about the right things at the right time. Product producers will be able to make sure they make the right amounts of the right products at the right time. Distributors will be able to make these products available at the right places at the right times.
And crucially, service providers will be able to offer new dimensions of value by providing the right combinations of product, service, advice and information, configured, calibrated and integrated around the specific needs, circumstances, preferences and priorities of individuals.
They will be able to do this because personal information logistics mechanisms will be able to provide them with accurate, up-to-the-minute information from individuals about the nature, shape, scope and scale and timing of demand, as it evolves and changes.
Personal information logistics will, then, help product and service providers eliminate huge amounts of waste from current approaches to production, distribution and communication while also opening up rich new growth markets.
But please note the phrase ‘service infrastructure’ above, because ‘service infrastructure’ is not the same as good old physical infrastructure. Roads provide modern economies with the physical infrastructure for distribution. But it is very easy to make a complete hash of things – to get the wrong things to the wrong places at the wrong times – if you put trucks on roads in the wrong way. Logistics is the service skill that realises the economic potential of roads.
Likewise, the Internet provides us with the pipelines of information distribution but, by making more information more easily available, the Internet can actually make it harder to find the information we need and harder to use it efficiently and effectively to achieve desired outcomes. Personal information logistics is the service that realises the economic potential of the Internet.
Like any service infrastructure, personal information logistics is only made possible by many supporting building blocks. These include:
- Personal Knowledge Banks (which help individuals gather, store, access and use personal data)
- Personal Digital Identity Services (which help individuals define, secure and authenticate the data they need to share with other parties to conduct exchanges and transactions)
- Personal Publishing Services (which help individuals choose what data they wish to make available to chosen audiences, including their current interests, priorities and preferences)
- Personal Information Management Services (which help individuals search for, analyse, integrate and use the information they need to achieve desired outcomes).
At the moment, most of these service building blocks are either nascent or in the earliest infancy. We have an entire new industry – and a whole host of new markets – to build.