Stop talking, start doing personalisation

Personalisation has been talked about for years but few organisations are truly exploiting it. The overwhelming response to our recent breakfast event on the topic demonstrated a huge cross-sector appetite for brands ‘to stop talking and to start doing’.

Neil Collard, Great State’s managing director, introduced the breakfast seminar with a very clear business case for personalisation. It is gaining more traction, he explained, now it’s easier to pool data from multiple sources, collect and store richer volumes of data, process and interpret it and deliver iot ut to a multitude of channels such as voice and EPOS platforms.

Despite all this, few businesses are really taking advantage. A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study in 2017 claims that only 15% of organisations are considered personalisation leaders, 20% are only experimenting and the remaining 65% haven’t even started to employ it.

In our survey of attendees to the event, we’re pleased to say that the number experimenting with personalisation already exceeded this, but few present were able to claim they had a clear strategy or were adequately skilled and resourced to deliver against their ambitions.

The BCG study draws similar parallels. It highlights too few dedicated personnel, inadequate co-ordination between teams and departments, lack of a clear roadmap and the inability to test and learn rapidly as top organisational barriers to delivering a truly personalised experience for consumers.

Jon Reay, lead strategist at Great State, shared three driving forces that put personalisation in the spotlight:

1. Consumer expectations are rising – what people expect brands to deliver through their touch points and experiences is growing every day, constantly set and reset by global digital platforms

2. Competition is fierce - new, cross-sector and fast-moving competitors are encroaching on every brand

3. Technology is delivering business value not just adding complexity - CMS and personalisation platforms have reached a new level of maturity

The answer to personalisation is a combination of the right technology and the right partner to help brands best exploit it, he explained. With a rising number of different devices, systems and touch points, there needs to be a single repository for collecting, storing and disseminating customer data, particularly when you start incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT). Reay cited Sitecore as an example of a powerful platform that can deliver against this need. All the different devices need to be easy to integrate, he added, and brands also need ready access to individual customer data without the need for heavy back-end development.

Sitecore 9.0 brings all these features together through its xDB (Experience Database), xConnect and Headless CMS components. Yet the really exciting innovation is still to come – Machine Learning, he continued.

Machine Learning enables marketers to implement and evolve personalisation with fewer resources. As this is one of the top barriers organisations cite, this new technology could be transformative in helping them deliver on the promise of personalisation.

In October 2018, Sitecore launches 9.1 which will include powerful Machine Learning with Sitecore Cortex.

Intelligent automation features in Sitecore 9.1 will include:

· Automated personalisation - machine learning based personalisation suggestions

· Content tagging - automatically generate content tags for Taxonomy and Search

· Predictive outcomes - personalise based on predictive behaviour of a customer on their probability to convert

Great State is one of the few partners globally working with Sitecore to help brands prepare to take advantage of Cortex.

John Penfold, Senior Sales Engineer at Sitecore, demonstrated some of the features of Sitecore 9.0 in action as well as hinting at what’s coming in 9.1.

Using a mock cinema example, he showed how interactions on the website, the EPOS platform and his mobile, all worked together using xConnect. He showed how behavioural data was continuously collected into the xDB, dynamically integrated with Salesforce and used to personalise the experience in all channels. He also showed how end users could view the data stored on them and opt for all their data to be deleted to conform with GDPR.

Jon Reay returned to outline Great State’s personalisation programme, which, when combined with a platform such as Sitecore, enables brands to get on the path to perfect personalisation.

So, enough of the talking. We finished with an exercise to give attendees a flavour of how Great State’s personalisation programme works across these seven areas:

1. Consumer insight and expectations

2. Customer data

3. Business objectives and strategy

4. Business case and priority

5. Personalisation strategy and progress

6. Staff and processes

7. Technology

Across the board, attendees confessed to a range of similar challenges, highlighting the overall complexity of the technology, a lack of due process and appropriate resource, plus a lack of stakeholder understanding as key barriers to delivering a robust personalisation strategy.

It is for these very reasons that Great State runs an iterative programme that has helped our clients identify the opportunities for personalisation, equip them to realise them and to evolve. Although we do recommend Sitecore as a suitable platform, there is no dependency on any particular technology to get started.

We are now offering this services to new clients. Our personalisation programme is quick to initiate and we use short delivery cycles to rapidly deliver results. The programme begins with a 2-3 week personalisation audit and strategy, resulting in an effectiveness benchmarking score and a clear roadmap for developing and evolving personalisation. We then work with you to implement monthly iterations, where you’ll see results including set up, training and measurement.

We’re hosting another event on Personalisation, Machine Learning and the Launch of Sitecore Cortex on November 7. To hear more about this, or to get the personalisation audit and strategy into play for your brand, contact Miranda

Download our personalisation programme