Anywhere that technology and skill meets, branch and merge is going to be something that happens. If you’re not familiar, “Branch and Merge” is used in software, it means to pull a piece of code and make a copy that creates a new version, and then making changes and merging back into the main base if needed. This is becoming possible with all sorts of data like writing or engineering designs too.
The future will be full of more “flavors” then ever. After all, once ice cream was invented, then came vanilla, and chocolate and strawberry, then over time came Baskin Robbins 32 flavors, now, you can get Goat Cheese Beet Swirl, or Roasted Turmeric and Candied Ginger or even Cardamom and Black Pepper. As technology improves, the options in other goods improves as well. Digital layout software gave more choices for fonts. 3D Printers are making mass customization of physical goods readily available. With Artificial Intelligence software now being able to do face replacements in video, this could even include a movie where each person picks the faces of the characters, so each watcher can see different people in the movies.
All this customization is both a blessing and a curse. We all will have more of the specific life of our choosing, yet, it means endless choice and a lack of shared experience. People like menus because it limits the options and makes a decision manageable. Too much choice makes us indecisive and miserable. Add to that, how do you rate a pillow that was custom made for you that you don’t like when you made the design choices? We will no longer have a way to determine quality relative to each other.
The world moves in waves. A wave like this branch and merge phenomenon is likely decades long. While initially we’ll see the push towards choice, eventually too much and we’ll see a rebound of menus, fixed offerings and curation.
Depending on your industry, it’s worth taking a look at where you are in the “Branch and Merge” spectrum and whether it’s worth investing in customizable options, or whether it’s time to curate things down and simplify for the customer.