In 2010, the team at Hippo CMS sat together in a room and decided to scrap portlet technology from our roadmap entirely. We knew portals—we had worked with them for years—and recognized that the technology was outdated and had served its purpose.

After all, portals were invented to help bring legacy applications to the web in a secure way. But nowadays more and more business applications are exposing their services as REST APIs, allowing us and others to build new interfaces on top of their existing backends. We already saw that the era of the portal was ending around 2010, so we decided to drop the technology entirely, focus on personalisation and add that into our standard web delivery stack.

Why separate “known” and “anonymous” visitors, when they’re really on a spectrum? Why draw arbitrary lines between the functionalities, separated by a login? Why don’t we use content targeting technology to start “learning” how our visitors are actually consuming our Web content, and how they want to consume our content? Then, we can use this technology to automatically group them together – and begin to create actual personas based on their behavior. 

With progressive profiling, you discover and understand your audiences in an organic way. Even an “unknown” visitor can be provided with an intuitive and relevant customer experience. There is already a plethora of data we can use to tailor the web experience, and continue doing so over time. For example, if I have a web site and company based in here in Amsterdam, and I see that the visitor to my web site is from the US (and specifically Southern California) I can deliver different imagery, or different types of content to that visitor. It could be as subtle as providing an American phone number instead the Dutch phone number. Local weather, local time and myriad of other factors can be used to provide relevant content.

This data is powerful. Even with the “unknown” visitors, I can start to aggregate information and see if patterns based on the content they engage with develops. If they do, I can start creating specific content for southern California visitors and deliver better experiences.  Portals and web are one—it’s time to start treating every visitor as an individual.

Not only is this data powerful to offer real time personalised experiences, it’s also very useful for providing Digital Intelligence. It can help tailor digital experiences, and at the same time it can help you get a better understanding of your audiences. Which, of course, in turn facilitates even better, more personalised and relevant experiences. More on that in a following blog post!

By Arje Cahn, CTO at Hippo