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Author: Doug Riecken
Date: Aug. 2000
From: Communications of the ACM(Vol. 43, Issue 8)
Publisher: Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
Document Type: Interview
Length: 1,427 words

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What does personalization mean to AT&T and what are the important business propositions to provide personalized services to its customers? Guest Editor Doug Riecken recently interviewed Kathleen Earley, Vice President of AT&T Internet Services, on the subject of personalization.

DR: It appears the Internet has been a motivating force in the design and creation of service features that attempt to personalize and help users and customers satisfy their individual goals in the use of many Web services. Do you concur with this point of view?

KE: I believe it has. I think we are at the beginning of what the Internet and personalization are going to enable users and customers to do. It is important to note that personalization means many things to many people. Generally, what it means to me is one-to-one anything, even though it's a one-to-many experience. So, if you think about this as the Web, anybody can be going to the Web, but it's when I interact with the Web that it's a personalized experience to me. So a useful question is, how do you actually enable my user experience to be something that's enriching, compelling, serves my needs, and target goal alignment in terms of fulfilling my needs?

I think the Internet with its Web services is uniquely positioned to really enable personalization because--I hate to use this old phrase--"its the unifying protocol between computing and communication."

Prior to this, we were able to do personalized communication through the telephone or personalized email, both of which are a one-to-one or one-to-many experience. It is not until you start to marry all the applications imaginable within the industry and then marry that with some front end--call it Web veneer, artificial intelligence, or a type of search engine--that a service then feels personal to me.

It's when I can put in filters, agents, personal screens, some set of rules defining what kind of advertising I want to receive, that I have personal control over the flow of information I send and receive. I think the industry has a tremendous ramp ahead of it over the next 5 to 10 years, but the benefits...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A65572043