Personalization Pros Fall 2017 Meeting

September 29.2017 | Boston, MA


DISPATCH: Oct 5, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

 I would like to share details of an important, new TBG initiative, the Consortium for Personalization Professionals (CPP), along with some of my takeaways from the inaugural meeting that I attended last week at Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston.

Founded by our very own CEO John Berndt in partnership with Amanda Shiga, VP for Marketing Science at Valtech (formerly Nonlinear), the CPP brings together sophisticated Personalization practitioners to discuss and advance the field of Personalization. This represents a really exciting opportunity for TBG as we strive to grow our Personalization practice and maintain our position as a leader in this rapidly evolving space. ​

For our first meeting, each CPP participant prepared a presentation on some aspect of Personalization that he or she has been working on. We covered a breadth of relevant topics and had lively cross-discussions throughout the day. 

Amanda presented her approach to tracking and measuring personalization activities. She showed how her agency uses JIRA to track the activities related to implementing and tracking personalization programs—this approach could make sense for TBG to adopt more and more of our projects include personalization strategy and implementation. She also shared her approach to developing Engagement Value Scoring models collaboratively with clients using a sticky note exercise—an idea would could build on, perhaps using Optimal Workshop to conduct the exercise remotely and asynchronously. She also gave us a sneak peek at her efforts to build a tool that automatically predicts conversions based on data in xDB.

Meanwhile, our own CEO John Berndt took the position that machine learning cannot replace digital operations in a personalization practice—at least not with any of the tools emerging on the market today. His argument: “Having colloquial theories matters…If you can’t imagine the circumstances, or the people involved, it is going to be hard to understand what is driving change, or what creative can address a particular choke-point. No amount of black-box-machine-learning-Monte-Carlo-simulations can really solve that.​ There are many questions for which we don’t have theories.” He noted that the push for machine learning solutions for personalization are in response to the complexities and constraints that digital operations teams face when trying to plan and manage dense personalization rule sets and associated collateral, particularly over time. 

As a potential solution to this challenge for digital operations teams, JB presented an early-stage conceptual model for reducing the number of multi-factor permutations needed to support a scalable personalization strategy over time. In his model there are a limited number of personalization programs that address multiple user types / contingencies Personalization / outcomes drive back into segmentation, not the generic contingencies. ​Check out JB’s “A Conceptual Vocabulary for Lifetime Personalization” slide deck for more info!

I presented my thoughts Personalization Readiness and Maturity Models, building on work we did for the Allegis Strategy Consulting project. The models were well received and provided an approach to a problem that was at the forefront of all the CPP participants’ minds (everyone’s presentation touched on this subject). JB would like TBG to produce a white paper that on this topic in the near future.

Colin Eagan, Principal of User Experience at ICF Olson, presented on a topic very near and dear to my heart. The main message of his talk was that “personalization is an IA problem.” He walked us through example deliverables from personalization projects he has done for Fortune 500 companies. Personalization, translation and localization, oh my! If you’re on Twitter, Collin is someone definitely worth following:

Avenue CX Executive Director Kevin Nichols gave an overview of his experience developing enterprise-level, omnihannel content and personalization strategies.  You  can check out some of his publications on this topics on the Avenue CX website.

Jeff MacIntyre, founder of Bucket Studio, discussed cultural and societal impacts of personalization as well shared some of his learnings from the ACM Recommender Systems (RECSY) Conference. He discussed the importance of taxonomy, metadata and  Marsha Bate’s “Berrypicking, Evolving Search Model in the context of recommendation systems. While not new concepts, Bate’s ideas around Universe of Knowledge versus Universe of Interest and how these interact can be valuable when thinking about designing search and recommended content experiences that promote learning, discovery, and findability.

“Signs of the Times” art installation,  

In summary, I was honored to be among such a great group of people for the inaugural CPP meeting. It’s safe to say that the group really hit it off and has great momentum! 

We are already planning the next CPP meeting and starting to set up digital channels for ongoing discussion between our gatherings. Our goal is to make the group public at a major conference soon (potentially by applying to do a panel discussion or similar). 




Personalization Professionals 2022 Meeting Poster
2021 Personalization Pros Meeting Poster