The Next generation of personalization

A recent trend that is here to stay is personalized knowledge access (usually in an organizational or professional portal). There are several ways to personalize knowledge access. These methods differ in their level of personal adaptation and users' activeness in the personalization process.

Before we introduce the "next generation" of personalization, we must first review its past:



Level of knowledge personalization

Level of activeness required from users during the personalization process

Personalization by position/target audience

Segmenting target audiences by position or other criteria (such as organizational unit). Each group is displayed personalized content. For example, some "messages and notifications" are relevant to the entire organization; some are only  relevant to a certain group. Each group is exposed to its relevant messages and notifications.


Depending on the segmentation criteria. When defined by position, the personalization level is high based on the assumption that everyone in this position require similar notifications. Personalization level is lower when segmenting by organizational unit as some messages may be irrelevant to each individual member.


Users are identified and automatically included into a defined group featuring automatically adapted content.

Access to personal data

Displaying personal data (such as payment and attendance) stored in operational systems

Very high


Users are identified by user names; knowledge is adapted automatically.

Personalized website/system screen  display design

Each user designs her/his own screen display. The levels of personalization include:

1.       Personally adapted component choice

2.       Personally adapted component display and arrangement

3.       Personalized color pallet


Medium or high, depending on displayed content

The user chooses which components to view as well as their display, manifesting a high-level of personalization. Yet some components may feature content irrelevant to the user and as such represent a medium level of adaptation.

Very high

Users are required to design their own screen

Each organization chooses which of the several knowledge personalization methods suits their organization's resources, organizational culture and business needs.

There is usually a positive correlation between level of personalization and the costs of technological development; most organization give up from the start. Furthermore, the more users are required to actively participate in the personalization process the more organization are hesitant to adapt the method due to fear of lack of cooperation on behalf of their employees or worse: losing control over the pushed content and their website's display.

While I understand these fears and have myself taken a more conservative stance only few years ago, I believe it's time to face it: the world has changed, and so have we. Whether it's the rapidly developing technologies or the unbearable knowledge overflow, the digital age involves us (whether willingly or begrudgingly) more active when managing our own knowledge.

One common web phenomena which is the "next generation" of personalization is Content Curation. Two leading social networks that implement this approach are Google+ and Pinterest. Content Curation is a process involving collecting, organizing and displaying content relevant to a certain topic or interest performed by its user. The users' activeness is therefore very high as is the level of personalization.

This might sound familiar. It should indeed, since Content Curation is practically an amalgam of all previous methodologies.

Well, you might ask, so what's new about this solution? Mainly the responsibility for Knowledge Management. The responsibility for Knowledge Management has been shifted to the users: "if you won't collect knowledge, you simply won't have knowledge". This approach implements an active learning process for employees searching for knowledge and generates organizational involvement.

How can this work in an organization?

The organization offers a uniform design frame in which users (considering some limitations) organize their content.

The organization offers the user content "Lego blocks", yet the construction is left in the users' hands. Organizations control the contents yet not their consumption. Consumption of varied content is encouraged, however, via various marketing elements meant to attract users.

No more complex characterization, sophisticated templates, notification components, Favorites lists, etc. Everything, in this sense, will be simplified.

I wish you luck.