4 ways digital personalisation is changing the way we live


Who does not like it with the barista at their favorite café remembers them by name, knows their regular order and has it ready for them without them even needing to spell out their order?

Want to let off some steam by lazing in front of the television? Netflix is all set to recommend a bunch of movies or TV shows perfectly tailored to your preferences. Want to know what the weather is going to be outside this evening? Google will tell you without you even having to type in the name of your town or city.


We have all come to appreciate and in some cases, expect this degree of personalisation from service providers around us. What’s new, however, are the unexpectedly sophisticated ways in which personalisation has started making our lives simpler and richer.

Prescient websites

We are all familiar with Google offering results that are modeled on our past searches, the device we’re using, our current location or even language of search. While Google with its enormous resources may have mastered the art of tapping big data, few websites have been able to truly implement anything close to what big data is capable of offering.

The ones that have succeeded in personalising their web experiences to a meaningful degree are seeing the much talked about but rarely seen results – an average of 19% uplift in sales, according to a Monetate and Econsultancy study done last year.

While offering small personalised cross-sell or upsell sections on ecommerce sites is relatively easy and commonly adopted; implementing a site-wide personalisation is still rare. Nate Pruitt shares his experience of an extremely relevant personalisation on a large scale with the Pennsylvania Tourism website.

When Pruitt logs onto the site from California, he is greeted with a warm picture depicting the glorious Pennsylvania fall colors – something that California lacks – and which is a huge attraction from the perspective of a California local. The headline makes a specific callout to ‘California’ and the copy urges him to book his flight right away:

Pensylvania Tourism

However, when he logs in from the office of the tourism board while in Pennsylvania, the destination hard sell is replaced by a more generic message that prods him to learn more about the state:

Pensylvania Tourism2

By highlighting on the strengths of the state and promoting them to the right audience, VisitPA.com increased page views by 164% and time spent per visit by 158%. Bounce rate (the rate at which customers ditch your site) also dropped by 52%.

Bespoke fashion at a fraction of the cost

Ecommerce has made the average users’ access to the latest and hottest styles that grace fashion ramps around unbelievably easy. However, even though haute couture is just a click away, having a piece especially tailored for you is still just an activity reserved for special occasions like a wedding or your next visit to Saville Row. Solution? Off the rack styles that are available at steep discounts on virtually every apparel retailer’s website.

The days of one-size-fits-all merchandise are numbered with websites now offering a personalised, tailored experience that never made sense in the economies of scale world of online retail. Bespoke suit fitting sites like OwnOnly offer a gigantic variety of styles and designs to suit every taste.


Once you zero in on the style of your choice, you can customize it to your individual preference – color, cut, fabric, buttons, trim etc.


Instead of the generic Small, Medium or Large, you get to input your own precise measurements and “build” a tailored outfit at a fraction of the price that a real-world custom-stitched outfit would cost.

Education that adapts to each student

Most of us are products of an education system that worked towards offering knowledge based on the law of averages. School curricula over the years have been designed to ensure every student has a “fair” chance at success.

However, the result of this mediocritization of education has given us students who don’t feel challenged enough, those who find it hard to catch up with the rest, and those who find the content of their school curricula completely irrelevant to their personal goals and abilities.

The realisation of how education has been failing students, has led to the wave towards adaptive learning and personalised education. Education boards across the country are taking their first baby steps towards personalising education across the K-12 levels.

The personalised education model works on the foundation of a “learner profile” for each student that documents their strengths, weaknesses, preferences and goals. Customized learning plans are created for each student based on their learner profiles. Instead of cramming the same textbooks for exams at the end of the academic year (or “dumps” to pass that latest aptitude test) students use technology aids, books, teacher interactions and self-learning projects to progress through their classes based on actual proficiency displayed along timelines that are flexible and set based on their real abilities.

In a paper presented in 2011, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings cites the case of The New York City School of One that tackled the question of personalised education with a novel approach. Each student would receive a daily to-do list containing the set of instructional activities for the day based on their learner profiles.

Students spend their school time with teachers, using educational modules online, playing online games that test their knowledge and more. The smart educational platforms adapt to each students learning style and pace. They go back to the basics for each student individually whenever the student needs a better grip on their fundamentals.

The pace of learning is flexible to match each student’s capabilities with quick learners being able to speed through courses while slower ones being given extra time and attention to truly understand the course material. Progress is tracked electronically and happens only when each student completes the goals tailored for them.

Travel with people you like

Whether for work or for pleasure, traveling across the globe is a lot easier today than it was say a generation ago. Technology, in the shape of Google Maps, Uber, Airbnb and tons of other interesting and extremely useful apps has transformed the way we travel forever.

What does personalisation have to do with travel? A lot actually.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ new “Meet & Seat” program lets you make every journey a real pleasure. Users can simply login to the app using their social media accounts and see the profiles of their co-passengers in the same flight. They can then choose to sit next to the most interesting co-passenger based on their social profile or shared interests. With Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles to choose from, the variety of people you might bump into onboard a KLM flight promises to be exciting for sure.

Meet and Seat

While this personalisation is all fun and games, RoboCoin ATMs offer travelers the luxury of money-free travel on their trips abroad. No more worrying about carrying foreign currency or swiping your credit card for astronomical transaction fees abroad. Robocoin combines Bitcoin technology with fingerprint identification to create your personal ATM across 16 countries and 14 different currencies.

With a Robocoin account, all you need is to walk up to the nearest Robocoin ATM, punch in your phone number and PIN, and scan the palm of your hand to get foreign currency instantly – no transaction fees, no exchange rate hassles, no security worries!

Final thoughts

Whether it is an education that really empowers you or a power suit that acts as your deal clincher or even a simple flight that results in the next big business merger, personalisation is here to stay. The question is, are you prepared to share a little bit of you with the rest of the world?

Image: undpeuropeandcis via Flickr.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.