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Personalization: Why You Should Care – By: Sherri Hammons

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Author: Sherri Hammons, CTO at IQ Navigator

There is nothing more simple than Google’s home page.  If you take away the cool graphics, it is literally one text box.  Yet, it is obvious that there are major things taking place once you hit the search button.  In fact, my search results for “red shirt” will be different than yours, because Google is using our preferences and personalized information to come up with the answers and in what order I would like them.  My search results may bring up “Madewell” since I shop there a lot while yours may actually bring up “The Red Shirt Band” because you are such a music lover.  Google is mining all the possible answers for your search term from the internet, applying your specific preferences and past search behavior, compiling a list of links, adding the paid ones at the top, and returning all that information to you within less than a second.  Focused just on you.

They have made the very complex extremely simple and personalized.  You can do this with your application, too.  But, you’ll need data science to help you.  That is a critical component for creating a personalized experience.

Instead of giving you a whole slew of why data science can help you, let’s just take a couple of examples (one business, one consumer) to illustrate.

A Business Example

You are ready to change the world with an idea, but need a mobile developer to help you.  If you are in a company, you have to slog through mountains of job titles, submit the request, wait for recruiters to try to find the right person, have multiple interviews and eventually hire someone for the duration of the project.  If you are a startup, you have to figure out a job title by searching job sites, outlay some cash to post your job, post it to free sites, get resumes, parse through them, send a video interview for them, review those, call candidates to discuss pricing, and eventually set up a face to face interview.  It took you one work week over the course of three weeks.

You are exhausted.

A better experience is to input the attributes you know into a job app, such as “mobile” and “user experience”.  The app creates a profile of the best candidate using information about you from your social media (“hates tardiness”, “loves collaboration”) and finds candidates who match your skill sets and your preferences. The app then sets up a bidding process to get the best rate, ensures their talents by comparing their input with their experience, sets up a video interview that is automatically sent to you, and with a click, you set up the face to face interviews based on your selection.  It took you two minutes to input your original information.

A Personal Example

I am biking in Vermont on vacation and a flat tire causes me to crash and lose consciousness.  When the emergency techs arrive, they find my license and my medical insurance card because I always carry those.  While driving to the hospital, I have no idea what happened because I am just waking up.  But, I assume they are doing vitals and trying to find out who I belong to.  I also assume they can’t know I am allergic to penicillin or that I don’t have a history of head injuries and am not on any medication.  They have to treat me with kid gloves because they don’t know anything about me.  I must sit at the hospital for several hours while they monitor me.  I lose a day of biking and get a hefty emergency room bill in the coming weeks.  Other than that, I’m fine.


In the new scenario, I wear a watch that acts as a monitor and knows I’m in trouble.  It has access to my medical records and makes them available for properly credentialed medical personnel who arrive on the scene.  They now see that I am allergic to penicillin, that I don’t have a history of head injuries, that I am not on any medication and a way to contact my partner.   All with a swipe of an NFC reader.  There isn’t a need to go to the emergency room because of my health, so they sit with me to watch my vitals for a bit, input some checks into my watch and eventually, I get back on my bike and continue the journey.  It will let me know if my vitals change and I may need to hydrate,  as well as where the nearest hospital might be, in case my condition changes, as I bike along the gorgeous terrain of Vermont in the fall.

We need to begin embracing the concept of personalization, no matter what your industry.  Identifying ways to use personalized information to make the consumer experience better is our future.  As the Internet of Things continues to explode, the technology industry has volumes of information available to create a truly unique experience for anyone, anytime, anywhere and under any circumstance.

Reimagine a complex problem using personalization and see just how simple you can make the world around you.

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Sherri Hammons

About Sherri Hammons

Sherri is a technology executive with more than 18 years of experience managing technology assets, architecting technical solutions, and enabling technology and information to support, enhance and frame a broad range of corporate initiatives. She provides leadership and direction for all areas of Information Technology both nationally and internationally.