Today's Internet is largely indistinguishable from its previous incarnations - not only has it become a seemingly infinite repository for information and an means of access to applications and content, today's Internet takes it even further.
The new devices, applications, and network technologies that combine to form the infrastructure and delivery mechanism for today's abundance of Web-based content have also enabled a high degree of personalization. Personalization, of course, creates sticker services
, leading to user satisfaction and, ultimately, subscriber loyalty.
The need for increased personalization comes as a result of a new age of real-time social communication that allows users to communicate, create, and collaborate anywhere, at any time. That ubiquitous access to the Internet and its capabilities has led to what is being called Web 2.0
- a highly interactive, personalizable version of Web-based applications and services that is truly only possible when users have access to these resources at all times.
For the application developer and service provider, this presents an opportunity to leverage that desire for real-time interaction by delivering applications that leverage user data to create a personalized multi-screen experience - which to a large degree means adapting applications that have traditionally been available on the desktop, for the mobile device.
After all, the mobile device is quickly growing to be a popular means of accessing the Web, thanks to not only the devices, but the evolution of wireless broadband access from both cellular carriers and through WiFi routers. It all results in an always-on user, though on different devices at different times. It also results in a need - but also an opportunity - for providers to understand where users are
at any given time, and on what device.
Certainly, the integration of GPS chips into mobile devices makes identifying where users are easy. And identifying on which device users are accessing the Web is a basic task.
What remains, then is using that information, along with other available data - after all, users leave their footprint each time they visit a site - to create an experience that makes it increasingly desirable for subscribers to use a provider's services.
It can be used to deliver targeted advertising based on sites visited or items viewed; it can be used to recommend restaurants based on knows preferences and current location; it can be used to let users know when their Facebook friends or Yahoo! buddies are within a certain distance so they can meet for a coffee; it can be used simply to identify the most effective communications channels at any given time. Those are just a few basic examples.
The possibilities are nearly limitless, when providers leverage all the data that is available to them. The key is they have to do so in order to create the services that drive loyalty among user
As the market becomes more adept at leveraging this available information, the next step will be adding intelligence to the Web - the Semantic Web, according to a recent White Paper from Alcatel-Lucent. The Semantic Web, as its name implies, requires the Internet to "understand" user requests - does he mean Michael Jackson the late pop icon, or Michael Jackson the former wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
But that is a discussion for another day. Today, the focus for providers and developers must be on identifying what data is available and how they can programmatically turn that behavior information into a highly user-centric Web experience.
For more on the Web 2.0 world, read the Alcatel-Lucent white paper