Personalization Summit

Research | Content strategy | Low-fi prototypes | Partner education | Event planning

The problem

Hi, [Customer Name], isn't personalization. But key leaders thought it was (and some still do). Addressing your user by their name is a bare-minimum expectation.

The strategy

Define and agree on a plan to create personalized experiences at AT&T. Much research, discussion, and collaboration was required to even broach the subject and move beyond our business-as-usual approach.

What did success look like?

We built a prioritized personalization roadmap and action plan by bringing together 30+ leaders from multiple organizations to a Personalization Summit hosted in Bothell, WA.

Greeting your customer by name is a start …

But that’s all it is. True personalization is using combinations of customer-data, not a single point of data, to present contextual and relevant information to the user. Browsing history, purchase history, product use history, geolocation, product reviews, social shares, and so many more points of data can be used to present an experience that increases loyalty and also earns you the right to upsell or cross-sell your customer in a way that’s helpful and not intrusive.

Native App_iPhone copy

The right content. At the right time. For the right customer.

This can be challenging in a space with strong manufacteror partnerships and expectations that offer or product n always appear in panel y. When every customer sees the same offer, regardless of their cookied search history, past purchases, or other known intents, the likelihood of click throughs and conversions is reduced. Generic doesn’t move the needle. Overcoming these expectations was one of our biggest challenges.


Setting the stage. The early pitches.

Andrea Sutton, our amazing VP of Design at the time had a plain black and white slide like this one that she would use when we first started pitching the need to be more intentional and proactive about personalization. She would describe it to prospective partners by saying, “now imagine we take those cards on the left, each reprenting a different component containing content for different users, and we deal out the cards to each user, specific to their needs, their device, their intent.”


Conversation, collaboration, and low-fi prototypes.

That static screen and the description of someone dealing cards was just the right analogy to pique interest, but it wasn’t quite enough to help everyone understand that is was very different from our status quo of presenting content. I came up with the idea of animating the slide and including draft content. The resulting low-fidelity prototype/animation visualized what we began referring to as the “cards metaphor.”


Other materials

The pitch required numerous discussions, working sessions, presentations, and other temporary deliverables to be created. These are a few of them.

Great success!

After much discussion, many pitches, and multiple negotiations with leadership, we were able to secure funding to host our 2016 Personalization Summit in Bothell, WA. We had leaders flown in from Atlanta, Austin, Calgary, Dallas, Orlando, Redmond, Saint Louis, as well as leadership fom our Bothell office. We parntered with Colleen Jones of Content Science and prepared a jam-packed 2-day agenda of vision grooming, brainstorming, and mini design sprint exercises. We left with an action plan and commitment from everyone in attendance to strive for our personalization north star.


Award winning

My involvement in planning, coordinating, and executing the Personalization Summit earned me multiple nominations for our AT&T Summit award, one of the most prestigious awards for AT&T employees. Being presented the award by then Chief Digital Officer Teresa Ostapower is one of the highlights of my career, as was the amazing trip to the Bahamas. It was a trip my wife and I won't soon forget.