It’s Personal: The Emerging Data Revolution


We’re about to see a huge inversion of the “normal” way businesses connect with people on the Web. Before now, companies were the sun.  They reigned supreme as uncontested rule-makers in their hunt for purchasers, consumers, and viewers.

But the consumer Web has given rise to a new normal. Portable computing, always-on communications, and ubiquitous network connectivity have reshaped how people live their lives. We want it personal. We want it perfect. And we want it now.   In this new normal, people are the sun.

Businesses struggle to keep pace. The software they use to manage customer and user relationships creaks and crumbles when confronted with the volume, velocity, and variety of data generated by literally trillions of real-time Web experiences.  Companies will be left behind if they don’t develop more intelligent relationships with people and the capability to instantaneously cater to their specific interests and needs.

The businesses that heed the call will profitably and personally connect with people, at any time and on any screen, through a new type of data management system that I like to call “People Data Management.”

Here’s an example of what can occur in the new regime:

It’s the year 2016. I live in San Francisco with two spirited teenagers. It happens to be takeout night in my family. When my son logs on to his favorite pizza joint on his tablet, the local restaurant makes a personalized recommendation keeping in mind his allergy to nuts. My son orders his pizza, my daughter picks up on the order on her smartphone, and the site makes a vegetarian recommendation for her. I complete the order on my laptop in between finishing up a few work emails.

It’s tantalizing to imagine how businesses could win greater loyalty and more revenue by anticipating my family’s exact needs and desires.

Today just one company really delivers the gold standard for People Data Management, and that company is Amazon. With every click and every page view, Amazon creates a personal connection. Its wish list function and consumer reviews enable it to tap into a wealth of user and transaction data, which it uses to deliver increasingly more personal experiences for the people who continue to show up and use its services for far more than just purchasing books.

This type of successful engagement is no longer the domain of an exclusive few. All the components are in place and all of the capabilities are within reach for any enterprise to follow the path Amazon has blazed.

When properly developed, People Data Management serves up specially tailored content and anticipates your very next move.  And it doesn’t take hours for the compute cycle; it delivers it in milliseconds. It safeguards privacy and enables the enterprise to act as a trusted steward of consumer data. It also puts all the data into action without requiring a company to hire an army of data scientists.

There are two ways People Data Management systems will be developed. In one scenario, companies will create proprietary technology. We saw that occur when different software platforms were developed for mobile devices, such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Alternatively, a wide spectrum of concerned parties—rivals, partners, industry experts, academics, and privacy advocates—can join together to drive universally powerful Web experiences. I’m betting that the second approach will take root and eventually transform the industry over the course of the next several years.

Tom Chavez is CEO of Krux. Prior to cofounding Krux he served as general manager for the Online Publisher Business Group at Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group.

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