I can't open a web browser lately without seeing some article or other calling out the establishment of a "New Normal" in the global economy. I know it is very important for markets, businesses and anyone that needs to plan to establish a benchmark of normalcy to measure against, however I think it is too soon to say that baseline exists. We have to collectively keep our heads up and our eyes open to trends but invariably there are going to be some unintended results to the shifting of markets.
Ted Kondis over at Supply Excellence has an interesting spin and some great links if you want to read more about the New Normal. I think we should collectively be a bit more optimistic about the way things are going than most of what I'm reading these days.
To prosper in the New Normal with its reduced resources, increased reliance on partners, and lower tolerance for error, organizations need to be able to more rapidly respond to changing situations without the typical lead times and permanent investments. They will do this through on-demand access to the capabilities, technology and community they need to serve their customers that can scale with their needs.
I think, for the most part, Ted is right. However, I think you are going to see a major shift in the amount of time it will take to bring products to market. Lead times are shrinking rapidly. It isn't just software and services you can order on demand these days.
I would suggest that the virtual factory, with on demand capacity, has been born out of the chaos of the last 18 months. The manufacturing world was headed in this direction before things got out of hand, but it seems like the economic turmoil has solidified this evolution in manufacturing.
The virtual factory with on demand capacity and production should substantially accelerate the time to market for new products. Shrinking the time to market should open the door to an accelerated innovation which the manufacturing world hasn't seen since the advent of the modern assembly line. It is a great reason to be optimistic.