The Woofound Blog

Technology and the Trend Toward Personalization

Posted in Higher Education, Psychology, and General

Jogger With SmartphoneImagine waking up in the morning to a gentle buzzing from your Fitbit wireless activity tracker strapped to your wrist. You sync it with your smartphone to find out how many hours you slept last night, and how many times you were restless or awakened. You get up, put on your NIKEiD running shoes that you designed yourself based on your workout requirements, style, and color preferences, and go for a jog. You pop in your earbuds and choose one of the personalized station recommendations Pandora has suggested for you. On the way home, you stop by the convenience store for a quick caffeine hit, mixing your own personal soft drink from 100 options on the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. Then you tap in the calorie data on your Weight Watchers app, which tracks your progress toward your personal weight-loss goal.

Today’s technology allows us to collect data on and personalize many aspects of our lives, from our grocery shopping to the shows we watch on TV. Everything we plug into, update, buy, “like,” or share provides a picture of our individual habits and preferences. Google can tell you’ve been searching for party supplies for your child’s upcoming birthday and serves up related ads in your sidebar as you browse the Internet. Target tracks your prenatal vitamin purchase and sends you coupons for maternity clothes. Your DVR records TV shows you might like to watch.

Social networking plays a role in personalizing the consumer experience, as well. Research shows that 83 percent of people age 18-29 use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. New consumer apps are being developed all the time that offer personalized discounts by leveraging information like check-ins, interests, and data from your social networks. For example, if your Twitter stream frequently refers to a certain brand of coffee, a coffee shop in your area might want to offer you a deal on that brand.

Why personalize?

What’s driving this trend toward personalization? And what does the future hold? Research shows that millennials want technology to evolve better to learn about their behavior and preferences. They believe this will help make life better, simpler, and more fun. Not only is personalization here to stay, but it will become more ubiquitous and useful as the technology improves.

IBM researchers predict that technology will help educators and students personalize learning. Within five years, we may see “the classroom of the future” which, with the help of cloud-based learning systems, will learn about each student over the course of their education and personalize coursework accordingly. For example, imagine an eighth grader who dreams of working in finance but struggles with quadratic and linear equations. The teacher would use this cognitive system to find out the student’s learning style and determine what type of content to give the student, and the best way to present it. This personalized syllabus will address their knowledge gaps, and be tailored to a student's goals and interests. According to IBM Research, “It’s the end of the era of one-size-fits-all education, and the beginning of personalized, experiential learning.”

Advances in information technology are also changing the field of health care. Experts say the future of health care is personalized medicine. Projections say the market for a more personalized approach to health and wellness will grow to as much as $452 billion by 2015. “All treatments, all therapies …, everything related to the management of a person’s health, is going to be tailored specifically for you, rather than saying these are vast populations and we’re going to use the same kind of treatment for [everyone],” says Ritu Agarwal, founder and director of the Center for Health Information at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Personalized medicine is a big idea that may take a couple of decades to implement, but the advanced technologies able to collect, store, and digitize the data needed to drive the trend already exist.

Millennials expect it

Given that they have been raised in an era of personalization, millennials expect nothing less from their careers. The idea of shoehorning themselves into a rigid job description is as foreign and unappealing as wearing a one-size-fits-all T-shirt. Today’s job applicants are not thinking about what will make them the best fit for a particular job, but what makes a job a good fit for them. Gone are the days of pursuing a career path because your parents or college career counselor advised you to. Gone are the days of getting a degree simply to get a good job after graduation. Millennials aren’t just looking for a paycheck, but careers that are meaningful and interesting to them personally.

Considering this proclivity for individuality and personalization, personality assessments can help college students, job seekers, and career changers get a clearer picture of their particular interests, learning style, and long-term goals. Discover how our image-based personality assessment, Woofound Compass, can help students and job seekers understand which career direction is right for them. Contact us or take our personalized assessment today.

Tags: personality assessment Millennials Woofound Compass Personalization

Josh is a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Woofound, Inc., where he works with teams to plan, design and develop applications to help people personalize the world around them. Josh's background in communications, technology and management allow him to seamlessly connect Woofound's unique talent set to create revolutionary application experiences.
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