Can you achieve personalisation at scale? That was the question facing delegates at Marketing Week’s roundtable event in partnership with data management platform Relay 42.

Personalisation is always a hot potato but never more so than now as marketers sit on the cusp of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations coming into effect in May 2018.

While GDPR may well cut down the volumes of information marketers have access to, they are still faced with a huge ‘data lake’ from which to plot customer journeys and draw insights.

Steve Forde, director of online product and marketing at ITV asked: “How much data is enough? There is so much more now and it’s always been available. We have a pure vision of how much data we can see but just because you can use it, does it mean that you should.”

Knowing what data will be relevant is about understanding the relationship customers want to have with you. Ian Morgan, managing director, digital channels at Barclays UK explained that how the organisation manages customer relationships has a direct impact on the sort of data it uses.

“One of the biggest changes has been that banks were product-focused in how they used data. That ignores how relevant those products are to the customer. Now, how do we use data to add context and relevance? That is what makes us more customer-centric,” he said.

Can volume ever be personal?

Mattress manufacturer Tempur Sealy’s head of customer experience Barbara Callicoot and Gary Booker, CEO of consultancy Selinon and former Dixons Carphone CMO, both got to the heart of the personalisation challenge.

“We still want to be customer-centric but expectations change. There is never enough. The ideal is one-to-one but it’s hard at scale,” Callicoot warned.

“The challenges are cost and IT infrastructure among others. If you can, go for it. But how much should you spend and how much incremental gain will you get from it?” Booker asked.

We still want to be customer-centric but expectations change. There is never enough. The ideal is one-to-one but it’s hard at scale.

Barbara Callicoot, Tempur Sealy

Rupert Bedell, CMO at employment benefits company Unum explained how he put the brakes on spiralling personalisation costs and took another tack while in his previous role at RBS.

“We had too much data and went so far down the personalisation track it was getting expensive and complicated. We stopped and instead put it in the hands of relationship managers. Sometimes human relationships are better than building huge engines. We could see the net promoter score (NPS) going up as a result.”

What does intelligence mean?

When talking about doing personalisation at scale, it’s no longer about changing the name at the top of a promotional email blast. The industry is moving towards dynamic content and adjusting it to the insights marketers have gleaned about individual consumers. But are marketers getting ahead of themselves?

Premal Patel, commercial director of Catalina UK insisted: “We’ve got to have consistency of…