Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
In Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Chris Anderson, a former editor in chief of Wired magazine writes how a new breed of global inventors is rising in the digital age. Makers, which follows Anderson’s first book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, argues that a wealth of opportunity exists for entrepreneurs in an economy that is seemingly dominated by large players. These opportunities are changing the face of manufacturing and are supporting the rise of what he calls ‘Makers’.
Anderson takes us on a personal journey in which he explains his early personal encounter with innovation. Then he proceeds to how he views the Maker Movement which is being born from the Internet. Through this medium, over which what he refers to as ‘weekend tinkerers’ share innovative plans and post tutorials in online forums, Makers are producing products for themselves and their
associates and are also starting businesses that sell these products and their components. The Internet has brought about this revolution that has transformed our culture.
“The digital transformation of making stuff is doing more than simply making existing manufacturing more efficient. It’s also extending manufacturing to a hugely expanded population of producers – the existing manufacturers plus a lot of regular folk who are becoming entrepreneurs.” People value things that they have had a hand in creating. This is why several businesses born from the Maker Revolution have become multimillion-dollar companies. Anderson cites several companies, including 3D Robotics, which had sales of more than USD5-million in 2012 – a company which he cofounded and left his job at Wired to become the full-time CEO of.
Maker companies are different because they regard their customers as participants in the business. This they do by publishing the plans for products online, knowing that eager customers will offer improvements. 3D Robotics, for instance, rewards or employs customers as a result of their contributions. The book is strongly descriptive when it comes to the manner in which 3D Robotics incorporates customers in its manufacturing processes. This information is useful for business leaders who wish to engage customers in their business practices. The impact of these developments on manufacturing is significant for manufacturing, as companies no longer require a mass market, but rather the right customers at the click of a mouse. Anderson shows us that global manufacturing can work on any specialised scale and is an open industry through the use of the World Wide Web.