Everyone likes to have things personalized for them. Personalization appeals to our desire to be unique and distinct—special in our own ways.
Online, we have the ability to personalize our portals, like Yahoo, so that we get the information (content) that we are interested in and the look and feel for the layout (format) and navigation that we are comfortable with.
We also like to get personalized recommendations (advice and offers) for things we might be interested in, assuming that the suggestions are pretty darn solid and hit the mark.
MIT Technology Review, May/June 2008, reports that “people do buy more when you help them find what they need”
Generally, while advertising often gets bothersome and we tune it out, people do like “that internet companies have dedicated such ingenuity, memory, and processing power to offering me good suggestions.”
Hence, the ever growing amount of:
- “Customers who bought this item also bought…” (Amazon)
- “Just for you” (Apple iTunes)
- Context-sensitive advertisements
On Amazon, for example, “reviews, recommendations, and rankings become an essential part of browsing and shopping.”
And the larger the number of users that the recommendation engines can infer from (the “network effect”), the better the personalized suggestions become.
Where’s all this personalization going?
“Perhaps Google’s Gmail will tell you—to whom you should forward that urgent email to, or remind you to keep in touch with a friend you’ve inadvertently ignored…[or] imagine Facebook suggesting what information should be shared with whom—or who should be sharing more with you.”
Those companies and organizations that can architect personalization and recommendations right for their consumers and end users stand to profit hugely. For example, “Netflix is offering a million dollars to anyone who can improve the efficacy of its (exceptionally successful) recommendation engine. That’s a small price to pay for a company who future depends on its ability to compete with Blockbuster and the digital video companies of the future.”
Time is money, and both are scarce and valuable. Enterprises that are able to develop personalized recommendations that speed up the shopping experience and help us get better value for our dollars—and at the same time aren’t “in your face” and annoying--will have an architecture that will pay off in terms of strategic competitive advantage.
The target enterprise architecture here is increased sales and profitability (performance); focused sales and marketing (business); greater personalization and useful recommendations (information); systems processing automated suggestion algorithms (services and technology), all done securely and with privacy assured (security).