The three asymmetries

by Richard Veryard
Demand Asymmetry means that the forms of demand are increasingly specific to the context in which they arise.

The first asymmetry involves separating out technology from the supply of specific products. This requires modelling of possible behaviors that can be supported (so Microsoft or car manufacturing has to modularize itself in support of families of technology use).

The second asymmetry requires separating out business models that can organize supply from the solutions that are on offer. This requires modelling of the possible forms of business geometry (so rail maintenance or retail services have to use a franchise model to allow the variation in business organization to accommodate the variety of ways in which the service needs to be implemented).

And the third asymmetry requires separating out the different contexts of use within which a demand arises. This requires modelling of the possible forms of demand within the contexts in which they arise (so that financial or care services are having to take up the way the through-time wealth/conditions are managed in a way that responds to different forms of context-of-use). The result is a stratification that describes six layers of organisation through which underlying technology is brought into relation with ultimate context-of-use:

It is worth considering what happens if these asymmetries are ignored.[1]

  • In the first asymmetry, this means defining the product by the technology. This is typical of the early stages in the emergence of new technologies. (Do you remember how we used to have to use mobile phones?).
  • In the second asymmetry, this means defining the solution for the customer by the way the business is organized. (Do you remember how large businesses used to relate to their customers before CRM?).
  • And in the third asymmetry, the solution to the problem presented by the customer is assumed to be what the customer actually needs. (Have you ever received a prescription from the doctor that turns out only to treat the symptom?).

Source: Metropolis and SOA Governance. Part 1: Towards the Agile Metropolis

[1] There is a fourth ethical dilemma, therefore, that is the dilemma of whether or not to hold the other three dilemmas open…

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