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Comply and Get Personal

September 19th, 2006

To use a functional example: a Finance Manager with authority for three of his company’s seven market regions, has permissions set within Active Directory’s Finance groups, and also for the new product development groups in which he participates.

Every page of the intranet can contain content that is specific to his profile. The same system may also offer him customisation options such as his preferred look and feel, and selected inclusion of news from across the organisation’s other new product development groups relevant to his level of authority.

However, it is vital to get implicit personalisation just right, so that it adds rather than detracts from the user experience. As it is based on past click-streams, it should be remembered that the user might not want the same experience today as yesterday. Nevertheless, if the Finance Manager regularly navigates to the company pension scheme section of the intranet, it makes sense from a usability and productivity perspective to add a shortcut or teaser to his homepage.

Partners

Personalisation should not stop at the intranet. The employee benefits are clear, but the compliance foundation can help to deliver a personalised extranet to your partners.

A partner portal integrates the content and applications the partner needs to work with your organisation more effectively. It will integrate search with full-text retrieval functions that take the users’ authorisations into account at the same time.

To give an example, Webasto, a world leader in the supply of roofs and air conditioning systems to the automotive industry, operates a portal to communicate and interact with dealers, suppliers and car manufacturers. Customer enquiries are directed to local Webasto dealers via the dealer portal, who can then calculate quotes and order the necessary components from Webasto. Suppliers can view their supplier rating, training announcements, and search through all documents covered by their access privileges. These suppliers can also access backend business applications, such as a tools database or quality assurance tools.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is another example of the benefit of compliant document and content management to personalising websites. By tagging content at page and element level as ‘searchable’, integrating an existing LDAP directory for secure member authentication, and integrating the Verity search engine, members can find what they are looking for easily and quickly. Explicit personalisation allows localisation at country level, including site translation into local language, and integration with a CRM back-end application, enabling individual explicit and implicit personalisation.

Customers

Customers may be businesses or public sector organisations, but everyone is a consumer and expectations will be high whatever the interaction requirement. The University of the Arts is one example. Home to five of the capital’s creative centres including London College of Fashion and Chelsea College of Art and Design, the University’s website allows each College to manage its own content and identity. It uses personalisation to provide visitors with a tailored view of all offered courses at a glance, which has proved invaluable in recruitment drives, especially around August Clearing. Higher education is an extremely competitive market. The engagement experience is vital, particularly for a young, consumer audience with sophisticated technology awareness.

New Levels of Engagement

The business drivers are clear, but how can a business quantify improved engagement? Increased employee knowledge, reduced burden on subject matter experts and improved communication flow are some of the key indicators. Partner’s gearing up their relationship and expertise using highly available information will have a positive impact on productivity and relationship management. Reduced time to market by providing the supply chain and business partners with timely information updates also provides further benefits.

Finally, for customers, how effective is implicit knowledge of customers in locking them in? Can your customers serve themselves more effectively, reducing the impact on your call centre staff? Loyalty and engagement can increase sales, reduce marketing expense and deliver greater customer lifetime value.

Close the loop

Like compliance, personalisation is a journey rather than a destination. Measuring success, using the data gathered to improve stakeholders’ experience, is key. And it’s possible.

Using connectors to export click-stream data to your business intelligence system will reveal real-time insights into the way stakeholders engage with intranets, extranets and websites, identifying opportunities for improving the experience. It may also provide data contributing to advance / lead indicators within an organisation’s Balanced Scorecard or similar corporate performance measurement system.

One thing is certain; personalisation will not remain a differentiator for long. Rudimentary personalisation is rapidly becoming a qualifying feature of good intranets, extranets and public websites, and best practice is ever advancing. It’s just as well compliance can deliver a head start.

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