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Digital Experience Personalization Is Hollow Without Predictive

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Rowan Curran
March 18, 2015

There’s no other way to slice it: competition for digital audiences is brutal. Intolerance for poor performance and disengaging experiences drives customers to competitor’s sites more quickly and more permanently than any time in history. Users increasingly demand digital experiences that personalize to their immediate needs and adapt to the current context, not treat them as a market or demographic segment.

In recently published research, we found that even as expectations soar, enterprises are personalizing with methods that are too unsophisticated, too opaque, or too convoluted to meet the complexity and mutability needed to serve individuals.  Persona-based segmentation is too simplistic to meet current, much less future, customer expectations. Some solutions provide predictive analytics capabilities but are limited to a few algorithms or black-box methods (e.g. neural networks) are not easily adaptable to new data or scenarios. Those that rely heavily on rules have become morasses, some customers needing to manage and maintain hundreds or thousands of rules to guide digital experiences.

How are companies to make the best decisions about what digital content and experience to deliver? Organizations today may have to go outside of their digital experience platforms to take advantage of powerful standalone predictive analytics platforms (many with no data scientist required!). Today’s open-source and commercial offerings (such as Alteryx, KNIME, RapidMiner, or IBM’s Watson Analytics) open the door to application developers and digital experience professionals who have experience in statistics. When compared to digital experience delivery platforms, predictive platforms don’t need to own the data and their comprehensiveness enables better decisions driven by data from diverse sources: beyond customer records, social media, and clickstream data. Many of them go beyond providing predictive information and can be deployed as, or embedded within, applications. Predictions alone are not enough to deliver the most value, augmenting them with operations research optimization or rules help ensure that the right decisions are taken based upon those predictions.

Digital experience delivery providers will need to step up if they don’t want to drive their customers to third party platforms for the advanced analytical capabilities they increasingly need. We’re happy to see some vendors already moving in this direction, but others will need to act soon to avoid leaving a capability that is fast becoming table-stakes to third-parties.

Are you a Forrester client building a strategy or selecting technology to make your digital experience digital experiences? Please schedule an inquiry with us, we’re excited to help you on this journey. Are you already on this path and want to share your story? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences and lessons learned.

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