As 2012 comes to a close, I have reached out to top technologists working on personalization solutions and technologies. I want to hear where they think the industry is headed, and how 2012 has advanced the art and science of personalization.
James Doman is a Product Marketing Executive at Emailvision, which recently acquired personalization provider PredictiveIntent. He blogs for Emailvision here, and also posts on his personal blog here. Emailvision offer a combined SaaS Relationship Marketing solution comprising of Customer Intelligence, campaign management, social media tools and now advanced personalization technology.
Question: How has the recommender systems market changed in 2012?
We’ve seen some market consolidation as PredictiveIntent and iGoDigital are both acquired by larger marketing technology companies. As marketing solutions giants begin to put their backing behind recommendation solutions, it’s a good indication that businesses that are looking to make investments in this types of technology.
Over the course of this year, we’ve seen some positive movement in the way eCommerce organisations perceive and adopt personalization and recommender systems. Businesses were apprehensive about how well algorithms could replace human knowledge and decision making. Understandably, this led to a strategy where retailers tested recommender systems on a portion of their online presence – namely product pages and shopping cart pages. Slowly, with significant results, retailers are starting to devote more screen real estate for personalisation and recommendations; furthering their innovation online.
Question: What are your proudest accomplishments for 2012?
For PredictiveIntent, being acquired by Emailvision is a massive accomplishment. Emailvision is the world leader in SaaS Online Relationship Marketing. The company develops technology that enables businesses to drive advanced data analysis with integrated campaign management. Automated multichannel personalization is the next step for innovative, forward-looking retailers and we are proud to be part of this solution offering.
Additionally, we’ve worked closely with our retail clients to consistently improve their online shopping experience. As a result, some clients see revenue contributions from PI technology of up to 50%.A combination of innovative agencies/clients and flexible technology means businesses can now do some very exciting things, including guided gifting and selling tools that help drive purchases and engage customers.
Question: What part will recommender systems play in enabling an increasingly personalized customer experience?
Recommender systems will help businesses drive further offline-online integrations with iPad in-store retail systems, traditional POS systems, loyalty cards, in-store displays, mobile app/SMS advertising – the opportunities to better target and personalize interactions in the physical world are immense and will help businesses deliver a stronger, positive customer experience.
For Online areas specifically, recommender systems can make tremendous contributions to traditional online marketing. For example, retailers are only touching the surface in terms of how to personalise content in their newsletters, transactional emails, lifecycle campaigns. Incorporating Personalization and Recommender technology will extend the online experience into the inbox.
A better understanding of persuasive psychological tactics will help retailers (and recommender companies) refine and adapt their strategies.
Question: What does the future hold for recommender systems and personalization?
Recommender systems will continue to evolve/merge with Customer Intelligence and Insights-based tools. Not only does this marriage of data make deep analysis even more insightful, it will help businesses create a single view of the customer; enabling stronger analysis, marketing automation and multichannel “content decisioning” – taking “assets” in the form of images, text, tags and products to create entirely dynamic, personalized experiences that are more automated and driven by technology.
For eCommerce especially, we need to stop thinking of websites as a collection of “static” pages with a small amount of dynamic content. Every online retailer depends on their database to store and recall products on the fly; banners, images and copy is stored and recalled in different situations. Websites have the power to become pages, created on the fly, for the individual providing the right context for the right situation. Integrating recommender/personalization systems for banners, copy, images, products and so on could revolutionize the way brands speak to their customers.
Recommender system companies will certainly continue to adapt and evolve ahead of what the market might require – so I’m sure we’ll see more diversity and pivots from existing providers. As recommender system technology becomes a standard solution, it would not be a surprise to see a range of smaller, cheaper but less “smart” technology suppliers appear, and an increase in situations where “recommendations” are offered as an add-on from providers in other areas, such as search and navigation.
Retailers are heading towards the next phase where the adoption and integration of more powerful, flexible and advanced systems will become the standard to their operating environment. To achieve the maximum results, recommendation systems will be viewed and treated as living systems that require dedication and effort in managing. It will not be a surprise to see more roles dedicated to Personalization and Recommendation appearing in the organisation as systems begin to generate an even higher percentage of total sales. Retailers will recognise that whilst “plug’n’play” systems are okay, spending a little more time and resources will reap huge rewards.