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Having passed through two eras -- “content is king” and social/analytics -- digital experience is now entering its “ubiquitous” stage. That’s the viewpoint of Larry Bowden, Vice President of Web Experience Software at IBM, who spoke recently with CMSWire about the evolution of computer-mediated experience.

The initial, content-is-king phase of online experience was championed most vocally by major content owners like Time/Warner. The tasks then, Bowden said, were “get it presented and get it searched.” Bowden noted that we’re still in the social media and analytics phase, when the key tasks are “understanding what people are doing and sensing what people are saying.” But, he pointed out, people currently expect to “move from physical device to any other device,” encountering different experiences along the way.

Device-Independent Experiences

In the emerging, “ubiquitous era,” he said, the scenario will change from device-based experiences to experiences that transcend and continue between devices, often mobile ones. It’s possible these days, although not common, to hand off an experience from, say, a smartphone to a tablet, but imagine what the experience will be like when that handoff becomes more transparent and fluid.

One way the experience handoff will be managed, Bowden said, is through a greater use of analytics, an area where IBM has been heavily invested. Analytics “can tune and dynamically assemble the next environment” that a user will encounter, he said. If a person enters a home from the car after a day of work, for instance, the continual experience knows enough about that person’s end-of-day routine to start playing Bach the moment the front door is opened.

Personalization

Analytics, Bowden pointed out, can improve two main areas that help to unify a continuous experience. One of them is the next generation of personalization, since, Bowden said, today’s users haven’t fully experienced “the full technology of personalization, which has a long ways to go.” What we describe today as personalization, he said, is usually relatively “static” responses to user choices, not the kind of dynamic, personalized interaction one might expect from a fully and continually responsive experience.

The other area of improvement is through the use of predictive techniques that “can be influenced by active data sources” during the digital experience. This could help make continual experiences into more dynamic ones, as experience is driven forward not only by a user’s previous patterns of behavior or by the aggregate habits of similar users, but by live data sources, such as weather conditions, trending subjects on search tools or the moving location of other family members. “The more specific the environment, the better the predictive analysis,” he pointed out.