The Consumer Web: On The Verge Of A Major Breakthrough?

Today, Web experiences are about Big Data and companies, where people are lumped into categories by a “type” rather than recognized for being individuals. At the same time, legacy software is struggling to keep pace. It creaks and crumbles when confronted with the volume, velocity and variety of data from literally trillions of real-time Web experiences. It trades and transacts in data without understanding who is on the other side of the screen. Most fatally, it puts companies -- not people -- at the center.

A new normal for online business operations may soon be be implemented and I'm calling it “People Data Management.” With "People Data Management," people -- not businesses -- will be at the center of the cosmos.

The people revolution

Think about what attracts people to non-digital experiences -- say, a neighborhood coffee shop. People know that when they show up, they will be recognized. The barista will start preparing his or her favorite blend as soon as a customer walks in the door.



It's tempting to imagine how businesses could win greater loyalty -- and more revenue -- from people by catering to individual interests much more precisely and quickly.

Amazon defines the gold standard for People Data Management online. With every click and every page view, the site creates a personal connection. With every return visit, people express a trust in the site by sharing more about their wants and interests, which in turn nourishes Amazon's massive people engine with the fuel it needs to deliver an even smarter, more personal touch.

This type of personalized Web 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 company to follow the path Amazon has blazed.

When properly developed, People Data Management is supported by a set of five well-defined capabilities: governance, real-time, flexibility, integration and sense-making.

1.    Governance Built-in mechanisms are needed to manage choice and privacy, so that it can be a trusted steward of people data.

2.    Real-time – A data pipeline must be developed that can execute in milliseconds. Everything from finding the user on a screen to incorporating everything that he or she has done merely seconds before delivering content that he/she wants to see at one precise moment in time.

3.    Flexibility This imperative unfolds along three key vectors:

-    Any datum: Every piece of data -- Clicks, conversions, purchases, redemptions, downloads, locations -- has the potential to be built out into a more complete people picture.

-    Any use:  Data in "Raw Materials" form must be easily transformed into "Finished Goods" data. People Data Management makes people data portable across uses, channels and systems via structured APIs.

-   Any segment: People Data Management allows us to understand the needs of a particular user at a granular level -- to overlay everything that is known and to quickly combine it with everything your partners and vendors know. This helps create actionable segments (for example, people who are between the ages of 24 and 35 on the Eastern Seaboard who are socially active electronics enthusiasts and have engaged at least twice with my electronics content in the last week) to bring brands closer to people and to maximize revenue opportunities.

4.   Integration In past decades, data integration projects required dozens or even hundreds of staffers. People Data Management transforms the previously ugly, unending chore of cross-silo integration into a cloud-enabled process that is flexible and fast.

5.   Sense-making – Today, less than 2% of all stored information is non-digital. Every new piece of information can be captured at close to zero marginal cost, and the enterprise can effectively sense everything. A new basis of competition involves the transformation of raw information into insight and action. People Data Management thus marks a transition from "sensing" to "sense-making."

What's next?

When it comes to maximizing revenue and relationships with the people who interact with your business, People Data Management has the potential to deliver a system of engagement that continually makes sense of the flood of data from different screens and sources. It can redefine how businesses engage with people who interact with the enterprise.

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