A very concise description of marketing and how it can have a valuable impact on product in ways that can be forecast and measured.
My favorite business models right now are the ones that really focus on a limited set of operations, chosen for a unique aggregating of external resources. That may be hard to visualize, initially, but this article from the Washington Post describes the phenomenon very well, including how technology has made it all that much more effective and agile.
It is relatively well known that GE, under Jack Welch and otherwise, has institutionalized the practice of outsourcing those operations that are not core to their offering. This changes constantly, based partly on what services are available or the logistics of accessing them or many other factors.
With consumer products, the engaged opinion of consumers should always be part of the product life-cycle. The internet provides nearly infinite opportunity to facilitate opinions from as diverse a consumer base as you wish to contact. There is no longer an excuse not to test market a product, or atleast aspects of a prouct, before burning resources on manufacturing or procurement. I have yet to come upon an example where consumers were engaged for their opinions and it backfired entirely. You may not want to publicize all your internet opinions because, honestly, some people are just crazy. Some demographic groups have crazy opinions that only get more balkanized by the oppurtunity to bash something (mob mentality translates all too well to the internet).