March 26, 2014
Enola Labs

Enola Labs creates custom strategy and products for mobile and web.

Let’s Talk

Subscribe to our blog:

As businesses shift into the mobile world, it’s important to strategize and plan a distinct mobile strategy that will not only optimize their business, but be a unique user experience that meets user expectations. One of the biggest expectations users have today is personalization of mobile apps. Unfortunately, few enterprises are really making the most of personalization and are instead focusing on other, less profitable areas. We sat down with Enola Labs CTO Marcus Turner to pick his brain about the best personalization tools, how to overcome common personalization obstacles, and why personalizing the user experience is now a requirement, not a recommendation, for any enterprise mobile strategy.

What is it about personalization that’s so critical when driving mobile in the enterprise?

Marcus: “I like to say that personalization is the most fundamental change that’s been brought along through the mobile revolution and innovation. It’s really driving the user expectations to a high level of simplicity and a high level of user experience within everything they do. Because smart phones allow this in your personal life, what it’s doing is driving back into those expectations- driving back into effectively everything we do being mobile. I’ll give an example. I used to lead 30 million dollar projects that didn’t have a line item for user experience and didn’t have sufficient time dedicated to visual design. It’s one of the things that the consumer mobile space has really taken off with- really personalizing content and personalizing the overall user experience. That’s really, from my experience, the biggest change that mobile has brought to the enterprise.”

What are some of the challenges that businesses face related to personalization?

“From an enterprise perspective, we’ve never focused on personalization before. We’ve tried to focus from a marketing perspective and I think marketing is a little bit ahead of that game with “target marketing.” Basically marketing to the individual as opposed to the persona, as we’ve always done. In enterprise applications, we’ve never considered it. We might write dashboards for personal data but it’s really more about business transparency and innovation than it is on personalization. You know, how I wanna see it; how I wanna fetch the material; how I want to consume to it. Also, it’s been driven heavily by the Y generation. The Y generation once stated the way that they wanted- in the matter that they wanted- they wanted to connect back into the enterprise in the way that we’re doing it, and so traditional norms have started to change. Another challenge that businesses face in terms of personalization is how to get the data. However, there are plenty of products we use for marketing research on personalization of the lead experience. We’re working on several projects for some of our more strategic initiatives. We can call them strategic initiatives, but some of our customers are driving membership value. When we’re talking about the overall value of the employee, or the experience of the employee, or even as related to the experience of the member, it’s all about personalization.”

What does the planning process look like to ensure an effective personalized experience? What do you look to for input?

“Really this is getting back into lean UX, and it’s getting back into human centered design, designing for specific user experiences and optimizing on the user experience. Make it simple to do; make it contagious; make it viral. You know, a lot of people talk about the virality of applications. The virality of applications is really driven around by what’s fun and what can we share socially, but nothing gets used that’s not based on a user experience. From the user input perspective, a lot of it is market validation. A lot of user experience testing is something we do in many cases to really take the target audience, run it in front of them, and leverage tools to figure out if we’re engaging in the way that we projected.”

How personalized is too personalized? When there’s a balance between time, cost and personalization, are there a common set of items that every app should incorporate related to design or user experience and personalization is simply a layer to the strategy?

“So, basically, if you consider personalization just a layer to the strategy, and you don’t have enough money to go after a personalized user experience in today’s world, don’t do it. In a business to business world, you’re seeing even logistic applications now have myPortal or myExperience. A lot of this started in the enterprise world with things like My SAP, but really what that was doing was just defining tasks of what I needed to do or my view into this monolith application, but it wasn’t really driven around personalization. To drive around personalization, it really needs to be a goal of the overall digital strategy or the specific mobile strategy. If its not a goal, then you’ve missed a step within your overall goal stratification and goal design.”

Is there a common set of items in every app?

“It should be targeted for the use. Some of the things that we talk about is virality and timeliness of data, but really the fundamental question is “what’s going to drive this user to get back into the application?” From an enterprise perspective, a lot of times we can tell users to do certain things, but if the application isn’t intuitive and easy to use, it simply gets avoided or gets done quickly at the end of the day. What we need to do is really define workforce solutions that empower the employee to do actions as they do it and hopefully track those actions while they’re doing it.”

What are some of the common fundamental items related to personalization that you like? E.g. customer loyalty programs, geolocated content, etc.

“Localization of content is key. Another thing is sharing of data. I’m frustrated a lot of times, especially in enterprise systems, where the enterprise knows everything about the employee, but we have them enter basic information in- why don’t we just use a key that can access the rest of the employee’s data? What we do, is we work with enterprises to kind of build a fact table about employees, or about customers, or about certain things so that they can have really unique employee-to-employer experiences. In the customer service space, we’re blown away by leverage examples of customer service personalization. What we’re all used to is the phone trees where they enter a bit of information and they personalize the user experience by, you know, I put in my phone number so they say “Hello, Mr. Turner,” but really digging back more, “I see this is the third time you’ve called this week, is there something that’s going on that we can help you out with?” From the enterprise system’s perspective, how do we get all of the data from everyone that’s connected with that employee and how do we make that public? A lot of enterprises in the customer service space have always used customer relationship management tools to track. What we’re seeing is the need to move those CRM type things into the enterprise and modeled against each human within the interaction and take a look at no more B to B models or B to C model, but H to H models which is simply human-to-human interaction.

Some other things for personalized content is- I hate things that sign me up for things- but if you see that I went to a conference and a similar conference is coming up from one of my social streams, why aren’t you engaging me in a lead generation model? Or if Amazon spends a lot of time in personalization to see, you know, customers that bought this also buy, but really targeting down everything I do in my life. What I project socially, what I search about, and what I do inside of the enterprise, because we’re consumed by work for the majority of our time, but how do we leverage data between systems and how do we really build on, you know, “hey, I knew he was looking for this, and now he’s in this system, maybe he needs to know this type of information.” We talked a lot about transparency of data, but this is really transparency of the employee; transparency of how to engage. If you see that you tweeted and you emailed and you called at the same time, but you see that I answered your tweet immediately and I answered your email within the hour and I never called you back, really leverage that pattern into how I want to engage back. Personalization just isn’t about how we gain additional insight towards a specific person, but really personalizing the overall user experience, which again connects very well into the Y generation type of things.”

A statistic from this website shows that 43 percent of business delivered desktop experience, but only 13 percent offer a mobile personal experience. Why do you think this is?

“I think enterprise in general is really slow to react with mobile. I was in a general strategy discussion with a major mobile company and they said “we’re all about enterprise.” One of the things they said is “we’re still selling to the MO.” And so if you’re selling to the MO, you’re not about the enterprise applications, you’re about the consumer facing avenues of that enterprise, but when we’re really talking about enterprise systems (legacy systems), how do we create value added, employee-customer, and member user experiences based on legacy systems? The key to that is simplicity and personalization of the user experience. Why it’s only 13 percent to 43 percent, I think, is that it’s a matter of the focus of the enterprise being on desktop for the last 20 years, or even 30 years. The focus of the enterprise in about 2010 started to shift towards mobility, but it really came on bigger in 2011 and 2012. We saw even CIO magazine state that if you’re not thinking mobile-first type of methodologies, as a CEO or CIO in 2013, you should’ve been fired.”