By Bryan Kirschner, Vice President, Strategy at DataStax\n\nThroughout my career, I have both taken inspiration from and found practical guidance in a principle of servant leadership: \u201cMake sure that other people\u2019s highest priority needs are being served.\u201d\nDiscovering the next bingeable series and having a well-tailored \u201cSweater Weather\u201d playlist at my fingertips when I wake up to a foggy October day in Seattle aren\u2019t necessarily my highest priority needs.\u00a0 But the excellence of Netflix and Spotify, respectively, at using data to help me discover new and delightful content unambiguously makes my life better.\nAnd we can see glimpses of how transformative data-driven personalization at their level of excellence could be for businesses and their consumers.\nA Boston Consulting Group survey found that consumers who experienced the highest level of a personalization experience were more likely to buy something other than what they\u2019d originally planned, spend a different amount of money, and also report a higher NPS score for the retailer.\nThat does not surprise me. If a company can help us discover something new, different, and delightful, we\u2019ll change our purchasing plans (perhaps even spend more)\u2014and be happy about it.\nFor example, Cengage described \u201cCengage Unlimited\u201d in a recent interview as \u201ckind of like a Netflix for education where you're paying on a per-semester or per-year basis.\u201d Excellence at helping people discover new learning opportunities is laudable in itself.\nBut it also gives me a visceral sense of how helpful transformative data-driven recommendations would have been for me during my college experience. Sending me to college was one of my parents\u2019 proudest accomplishments\u2014it was also the biggest expense in their lives to that point. During my first two years, I struggled so much to find courses I enjoyed, a major that felt right, and confidence in a career path that I felt both personally miserable and guilty that I was wasting my parents\u2019 money.\nA data-driven leg up on insight into what might be right for college students who happen to find themselves in a situation like I did sounds like addressing high-priority needs.\nLikewise, this is also true for the healthcare industry. When a doctor describing digital patient experiences says \u201cwe're not just providing care in new ways; we're hyper-personalizing medicine on behalf of our patients,\u201d he\u2019s literally talking about saving lives.\n\u201cPatient noncompliance\u201d has widespread and serious negative health impacts, often for reasons as readily solvable through telehealth as forgetting instructions or skipping a follow-up test because they are unable to take the time off from work or can\u2019t find transportation.\nHelping people overcome barriers to care seems like a high-value objective for a data strategy in medicine\u2014but there\u2019s reason to embrace \u201chelp\u201d as a North Star in any industry.\nGartner research shows that \u201chelp\u201d personalization outperforms\u00a0 \u201crecognition\u201d personalization.\nAppreciation for helping save time, reducing anxiety about making the wrong decisions, or getting a better deal are associated with better purchase or repurchase results. In some cases, demonstrating recognition without delivering help is associated with a negative impact on purchase or repurchase.\nDoes your data strategy take a stand on \u201chelp\u201d beating \u201crecognize?\u201d Does it aspire to better understand customers\u2019 highest priority needs? If not, no matter how much you invest in personalization, you may find that you\u2019re ceding the customer relationship in the long run to competitors whose strategies do.\nRead about the data imperative in planning for recovery here.\n\nAbout Bryan Kirschner:Bryan is Vice President, Strategy at DataStax. For more than 20 years he has helped large organizations build and execute strategy when they are seeking new ways forward and a future materially different from their past. He specializes in removing fear, uncertainty, and doubt from strategic decision-making through empirical data and market sensing.