I’m writing this on the plane back from a rather splendid Gilbane Boston event, an event I have a lot of personal history with, as a former Gilbane analyst, sometimes speaker and frequent sponsoring vendor. This time around I was an attendee, free to enjoy the views of my industry peers in the sessions and to do some serious networking.
Clearly your experience of these events is dependent on the sessions you attend, but a theme was soon set in the analysts keynote panel; the perennial favorite – Personalization. A subject that I saw folks coming back to, both in other sessions and in some of the one-to-one discussions I had around the conference.
Specifically I think the challenge that was being addressed was this idea that personalization is all in, that organizations feel they need to go from generic brochureware to 1:1 marketing in one chug of the marketing elixir, or worse in a single technology purchase.
During this discussion my former colleague, Scott Liewehr, now Principal Analyst for Digital Clarity Group referred to this as an unobtainable “Nirvana” (a word that was humorously unobtainable to him and the audience finished his sentence) or the “Holy Grail” and as I tweeted at the time, the discussion formed an image in my mind of Don Quixote titling at windmills.
Woven into this discussion, was a cynicism about tools and organizations over-buying (a position you’d expect from industry curmudgeon, founder of Real Story Group; Tony Byrne), leading to some interesting conversations on the Twitter back channel and the halls of the conference about a gap between organizational readiness and what the technology, specifically content management and publishing tools can do.
Organizational readiness aside, Frank Gilbane , chairing the discussion asked what was the “center of gravity” for producing this customer experience. The panel concluded it was data and content, something Meghan Walsh, Senior Director, Digital Data Strategy & Distribution, Marriott International underlined in a later session as she said:
“…most focus on capabilities of personalization, yet all roads lead to content and data…”
Don Quixote thought that the windmills were giants; he conjured a vision in his mind of an incredible fight against possibly insurmountable odds.
Yet, Quixote’s companion Sancho Panza asked “What giants?” and explained that the way the windmills worked: “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
So, if I could paraphrase. Those over there are not giants, but our content marketing strategies. Those things that seem to be their arms are content, which when they are whirled by the data, turn the customer experience.
The story of Don Quixote was a journey, would our personalization journey conclude in the Nirvana or the attainment of the Holy Grail as Liewehr described? Maybe not. But a focus on addressing the limbs of this giant (or windmill) and I reckon we can bring him down.
There was quite a discussion on the #Gilbane hashtag around some of the things I’ve touched on here. What are your thoughts on the personalization giant?