Eugenia  Ortiz

This conversation is closed.

How personalized would you prefer products/services to be in the future? Do you want them to really, really, REALLY know you?

Personalization could be a great tool if the product/service is tailored just for you by inferring your preferences from what you do/share/say/buy, etc. But, what about when that personalized experience becomes "scary" or "too much"?

Closing Statement from Eugenia Ortiz

Thank you all for your comments! This was really interesting.

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    Feb 17 2012: As a marketer, I agree that sharing your preferences can help enhance a company's offer, but to a certain point. Marketers will never achieve their ultimate (evil?) goal of knowing everything about their customers. Human people are too complex and changing to fall into segmented categories.

    Therefore I think there is a fallacy according to which personalization (as in "we know everything about you") makes a better product or service.
    Why? Human change and so do their taste, so a personalized offer is just a picture of one's tastes and preferences at a given time.

    Plus, if we pursue this (very trendy) logic, isn't there a risk that companies will stop being open, curious, or in a word: HUMBLE, as in "we don't know everything but we are listening to you".

    I think your question pinpoints to a larger debate: the Big Brother debate. I strongly believe that companies having access to all kinds of data should offer total privacy if a customer wishes to and so far, companies policies remain very blurry about it. Facebook for eg will win a lot of street cred if they start offering this feature instead of what they are doing right now: mingling with very private stuff and NOT being transparent at all about it.

    Today, the personalization (=private data/information) about one's taste is in the hands of corporations, and not yet in our own hands. That should be the case for "personalization" to have a greater added value...for the people.
  • Feb 16 2012: I would be happy to have my body scanned, upload that data to a server that is able to share it with other companies, so that when I bought something from that company, they had all my necessary details and information and would be able to customize the product exactly to my specifications without a great deal of tedium on my part.
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      Feb 16 2012: You sound optimistic! :) What do you think about protecting your data (privacy)?
      • Feb 16 2012: I'm not too worried. We already send data across the 'net that is of greater sensitivity, like financial information. Similarly, this data is transmitted between multiple companies.

        Finally, I'm not sure how much value there is in that data - when it's buried admist a sea of similar data. Maybe on aggregate, that information would be interesting... but I'm not interesting enough for my personal data to be of much interest to anyone individually.
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      Feb 16 2012: google is working on the issue, although a little differently
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    Feb 16 2012: Mass production severely limits how personalised a product or service can be and so generally misses the mark from the outset.

    If strangers know my name and details and feel like they need to aim directly at me, that will turn me right off. If I want something or need something, I'll find it. I don't need things dangled in front of me, and having my name and star sign stenciled on the letter-head certainly won't change my opinion of that product.
    • Feb 16 2012: Have you missed all the various 3D printing talks that have been on TED lately? We're quickly moving into a game changing paradigm in manufacturing... where the cost of each item is the same produced as a single or in the thousands.

      Of course, that scenario isn't quite true yet - but at the rate of technological progress that has already been demonstrated in the last 3 decades... and at the expected rate of technological progress in the next 3... do you really think that this isn't going to be a thing within our lifetimes?
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        Feb 17 2012: I just flit through the conversations. Don't really delve into the talks too much.
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      Feb 16 2012: you live in the past. once, ford said, anyone can have a car of any color so long as it is black. but it was long ago. today, you go to the website, click your preferences like pizza toppings, and you receive your car at the closest dealer within two weeks.

      granted, customization is more expensive. but people are willing to pay the extra for it. because things getting cheaper and cheaper, so we can afford it.
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        Feb 16 2012: Good point of view Krisztián. But it is also good to differentiate "customization" from "personalization". In customization (as you say) YOU are telling them what you like (color, model, etc). Personalization is a way to tailor a product just for you based on what they already know about you (inferred), so you are not explicitly telling them what you like; they already know it from your purchases on Amazon, your posts on facebook, your tweets, your searchs on Google, etc.
        Is there a point in which you find this scary enough?
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          Feb 16 2012: what is it if not just another level of customization?

          scary is what we don't understand. otherwise it is either wrong or good. people find it scary as we don't know what is the level of knowledge they can gather. but we still want to use google and facebook, even without understanding the consequences.

          i believe a new era must be coming. a new culture in which we are "at home" on the internet, knowing how does it work, what the data can tell to service providers, and so on. a new culture of information handling and privacy. a culture in which all internet pages, storage devices and communication channels will be encrypted, all softwares will be open source, and all databases are reviewed and overlooked by many 3rd parties.

          but it won't come unless there is a real danger, and the masses know about it. so not anytime soon. personally, i'm one of the ignorant many. i see no way how google could use the motherlode of data it collects on me, against me. so i don't care too much. but i can be wrong.
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        Feb 17 2012: Just a little left of the mark - I'm not living in the past, I'm just not living in your future..

        Someone can collect all the information or data about me they like - they still won't know me and it's highly unlikely that they'll change me.

        Like I said, stamping my name on it won't really make it any more appealing to me as a consumer (although I'm sure it's a real new world for producers).

        As a footnote, I'm not sure whether Henry Ford will be championed or vilified in the fullness of time. I suspect he will be vilified..
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          Feb 17 2012: sure they will. what do you think "knowing you" means? do you think when your friends know you, it means any more than data? they know your preferences, what do you like, your opinions, views, temper. it is data. it is expressed in your online activities. how google knows you might differ in magnitude or exact details, but in essence, it is the same as your family knows you.

          and nobody was talking about how appealing it is, or whether it would change you.
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        Feb 17 2012: I was.
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    Zack K

    • +1
    Feb 16 2012: I'd think that the that would be dependent on the product, however Id think that services would definitely need to be more personalized
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    Feb 16 2012: Eugenia, if I say, a person is much more than a set of preference, would you agree?

    PS I grew up with a grandmother whose closet was entirely custom-made according to her ever-changing moods and tastes. Each piece looked totally different from one another, more so than the physical differences between Neptune and Mars.

    So, no. I don't think any web tool can accurately predict what the interior design of my next apartment will look like.
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    Feb 16 2012: I don't mind having a product that can anticipate my needs; I have a problem with any product that cannot keep my needs between myself and the product. I would expect a product/user privilege in the same way I expect an attorney/client privilege, husband/wife privilege, or a pastor/follower-guy privilege.

    If the company could keep its filthy mitts off my data, I would love the experience. It's an easy fix; you the consumer demand this or they get no money from you. Do they want to get paid?