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Everyone Wants To Be Relevant
Why relevance engines are what matters now.
Posted Aug 21, 2010
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Now, more than ever, consumers want goods and services that meet their unique needs and tastes when it matters most. Just look at online shopping. This has become the preferred method for many because of the endless options right at their fingertips. There is a product for every interest, need and want.

Over the past decade, many companies have catered to this need by adopting mass customization — giving customers the ability and the freedom to completely customize a product to their liking. Letting their users build the car of their dreams, design the perfect pair of jeans, build a custom desktop from a list of components or create their own insurance polices from a list of options. It's a unique way to differentiate their products and services and the possibilities were endless.

Mass customization has enabled a wide variety of businesses to deliver tailored goods and services with the efficiencies provided by mass production. But is mass customization enough in today's real-time information world? Consider these situations: if an IT problem arises, an email about the problem may be sent to users around the globe, whether they're impacted or not. Likewise, all customers may receive the same coupon offer, whether they have an interest in the advertised product or not. That doesn't seem that relevant, does it?

Rather than blasting the same message to everyone, imagine if marketing could communicate unique messages to the most profitable customers at exactly the right moment? Imagine if a travel services firm could proactively provide alternate travel options to customers stranded by a natural disaster?

What if information, products, services or processes could find you — at the very moment you needed them? What if you could also block everything that you don't want or need? That would be a revolution in communication.

Business and leisure consumers want more, much more, and now there is a solution out there that enables them to get it. A relevance engine surpasses the idea of mass communications and is making businesses more efficient and agile using mass personalization.

Powered by relevance engines, mass personalization enables organizations to transform vital communications by micro-targeting individuals and groups with timely, relevant information so they can act. A relevance engine can be combined with any product or service across all business areas — from IT to risk management to marketing and product innovation — to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time, so they can take appropriate action.

Where mass customization usually only benefits customers, mass personalization provides targeted, relevant information to everyone connected with the business. Mass personalization also improves both internal and external communications by filtering unwanted and unnecessary information, something mass communications technologies are unable to do.

Relevance engines process massive volumes of data and match what is relevant to an individual or a group based on unique attributes such as: shared interests, responsibilities, permission levels, roles, assignments, availability, location, organization structure, languages, devices, and subscriptions. Recipients can then indicate how they want to receive that information — for example, by voice, email, or SMS text — and when each delivery mechanism should be used, e.g. time of day, day of week, holidays, vacation days, etc. Relevance engines are technology neutral, and work with applications, devices, and networks that are already in place and support an enterprise's existing processes.

By combining relevance engines with existing applications and systems, businesses are able to connect with customers in new ways and use mass personalization to provide individualized attention and build brand value by delivering what their customers want, when they want it.

With the help of a relevance engine, companies can improve virtually any product, service, or process and affordably deliver personalized products, services and experiences to everyone connected with their business. By delivering information, notifications, and choices that matter to the right people at the right time, and enabling them to take immediate action, relevance engines make business processes more effective and help the enterprise function more smoothly, accurately, and intelligently.

In addition to extending the life of existing products and services, relevance engines help organizations turn information into innovation, shorten development cycles, and reduce R&D spending allowing businesses to reap the benefits of mass personalization and maintain a competitive edge.

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About the Author

Troy McAlpin (tmcalpin@xmatters.com) is the chief executive officer of xMatters, an information-delivery pioneer with its relevance engine technology. Prior to founding xMatters, Troy served as the president, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer of two successful start-ups and was a strategic management consultant with AT&T Solutions and Andersen. For more information, please visit www.xMatters.com.

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Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" below.

If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

For the rest of the August 2010 issue of CRM magazine — revealing the winners of the 2010 CRM Market Awards — please click here.

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