A few years back, personalizing the experience was more of a set of specific options that you could choose from a set of possibilities — a specific color, a nice monogram, cuts and smaller things that focused on the soft factors but did not usually impact the composition of the product itself.
Today, with rapid advances in technology, dramatically enhanced customer expectations and the increasing need for organizations to differentiate to stay relevant, more and more organizations are including a true personalization experience into their portfolio. Interestingly, some of these offerings have progressed beyond simple, trivial variations to core changes in the composition of the product itself or the way it is consumed.
Here are some interesting examples across industries:
Recognized in 2013 by CNBC as one of the Top 50 companies disrupting the status quo and in 2014 as one of the best companies to work for in New York State with co-founders Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss named as the "Women Entrepreneurs to Watch" in 2016, this is one company definitely on my list of companies to watch.
Approximately 30% of customers feel that their bank knows them and can cater to their financial needs well — while 20% feel that their bank treats them like an account number, according to recent research done by GSK. This gap is particularly felt in the field of retail banking, which accounts for more than 50% of banks’ earnings.
One interesting example of personalization in this sector is the Agricultural Banking App created by DenizBank, based in Turkey. This app focuses on creating a space for banking in the lifestyle ecosystem of the farmer. In addition to providing all standard and personalized traditional banking services, it also provides insights on crop rotation, watering, fertilizing and reviewing and purchasing farm machinery. Local tie ups with experts enable the bank to provide personalized advisory services to their customers as well.
Coca-Cola Freestyle is another great example of how a brand can personalize the product based on individual preferences. The touchscreen fountain soda enables the consumer to choose from more than 100 different flavor combinations. Combined with an app that allows the consumer to create, store and share custom mixes and a strong loyalty program, this brings a significant step change in the way food and beverages will be manufactured and consumed in the future.
The trend towards personalization is very pronounced as we progress to the core manufacturing industry, where smart products and cutting-edge technologies like Industry 4.0, IoT and 3D printing are opening up significant opportunities for innovation and personalization. Many of these ideas are still in the prototyping phase — but interestingly, some of them have matured beyond experiments and are now in production. One interesting example in this space is the partially 3D-printed Adidas Futurecraft 4D shoes launched in January 2018. Leveraging their partnership with Carbon, these Adidas shoes make use of Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis Technology to offer precisely engineered zones personalized for athletes, ensuring not only comfort and cushioning but also higher stability and propulsion.
Among high-tech manufacturers, personalization and choices have been a bedrock of innovation. Dell's path-breaking business model providing the consumer the capability to build their own personalized laptop using the base packs from Dell's extensive line of options.
Personalized medicine — or precision medicine —is a medical procedure with medical decisions, practices, interventions and products tailored to the individual patient, based on their predicted response or risk of disease. The growth of new diagnostic capabilities and rapid improvements in genomics provide a clear evidence base to classify related patient groups, thereby easing the path into personalized interventions.
A great example in this field is cancer treatment, where genetic profiles of patients are used in a number of ways to help doctors choose the best treatment options. Trastuzumab, sold under the popular brand name of Herceptin, is a monoclonal antibody used to treat breast cancer that is HER2 receptor positive.
Though there are complexities around regulatory, ethical and privacy concerns regarding personalization in health care, there are several interesting models being piloted and some already in production.
GenoPhen is a platform for doctors and patients to create customized patient health care plans. When a physician opens Genophen, the program’s dashboard integrates data from the patient’s DNA analysis, information from patients regarding personal health history and family history, and information from patients’ quantified-self devices like Fitbit. The platform shows modifiable (like lifestyle) and nonmodifiable (like genes) risk factors to help choose a course of action. An additional what-if analysis feature provides the capability to simulate the possible impact of any lifestyle change on wellness over time.
The reach and scope of personalization across all industry segments have seen significant progress over the last few years, however the change has been slow and limited compared with the huge potential visible today. With technologies enhancing capabilities around visibility, accuracy, optimized cycle times and smart automation, there are real opportunities to re-examine and re-evaluate opportunities for personalization that have concrete business value for the enterprise, and enhanced experience and satisfaction for the consumer. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg and the possibilities for personalized products and services look more attractive than ever before.
Amitava Sengupta is Practice Head, CS & LSH at HCL Technologies. He has more than 24 years of experience spanning key consumer-facing industry verticals, including Retail, Consumer goods, Manufacturing, and Publishing. Sengupta has worked across functions such as logistics, warehousing, inventory management, multi-channel strategies, mobility and field sales, and market entry strategies, pricing strategies, distribution management, and market research. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.