Recently, I ordered a pizza through a bot for the first time.

The experience made me think about the advances that have happened in this area over the past 30 years, developments that go well beyond simplifying pizza ordering and hint at major changes in discovery and customer loyalty and a shift in privacy needs.

I recall having to go out to an actual pizzeria when I was a child, and how that evolved to ordering by phone for pick up (from mail flyers and the yellow pages), and later progressed to delivery.

From there it moved online to broad search, with loud and bright banners hoping to catch your attention and packed index results. Thanks to regular economics, as well as search engine parameters for relevancy, advertisement, timing, and more, the choices have grown over time. And the search results (hopefully) have improved as well, including the ability to make an order with a single click.

With that smartphone in your pocket (or more likely in your hand as you read this post), additional possibilities have arrived, making it possible for us to order through a favorite app and perhaps even track our pizza’s journey until it arrives at our doorstep.

My first experience (or conversation) with the bot wasn’t really “intelligent,” it was more a more complex workflow, like the IVRs of yesterday or a simple and automated process.

It was nonetheless smooth, as beyond just making an order, the bot inquired about the dough, asked whether to add a drink, and requested delivery address and payment method. It wasn’t knowledgeable yet about my personal preference for olives, or my wife’s craving for Pepperoni, but it was extremely convenient, right within FB Messenger, and allowed me to proceed with ongoing social activities while ordering dinner.

The personalization ahead

AI personalization will surely evolve in the coming years, as my virtual personal assistant (VPA) will not only order for me, but will know my preferences — toppings and crust type, days and times — as well as keeping track of special events and needs.

It isn’t so far-fetched to consider that with all the information the VPA has access to and knows about me, it will be able to adapt to needs like the following:

  • Company is arriving so additional pies are required
  • Allergies may be an issue so some modifications in dough or specific toppings are needed
  • If a major game is playing, perhaps beers should replace the soft drinks
  • How about special deals in the area to consider my financial situation
  • It could also order ahead so the delivery arrives on time, and with a notification of final time a change can be made

Times, they are a-changing…

As the technology continues to evolve, three more areas will likely be affected, with the goal of ultimate personalization.

Discovery

Search engines today display many organic and promoted results, but my VPA will reduce that to ONE result that is truly customized to my needs, with perhaps one additional promotion for choice, also built around my preferences.

If the VPA is truly intelligent, then such a result is built perfectly for my need, experience, and wishes.

This, of course, will change the direction of advertisement but will also improve relevancy, reduce our search time, and require advertisers to aim for personalization…as clicks won’t be cheap.

And…if your product isn’t featured in the result, then you don’t exist.

Loyalty

Loyalty isn’t what it used to be; it is so easy to change services, products, and brands based on experience, cost, relationship, and personal wishes.

But my VPA knows me and improves with every action, while noting whether being a “regular” with any specific vendor is worth my while. That is, the vendor would have to maintain a healthy relationship with the assistant and remain extremely relevant to my needs, otherwise my VPA will look elsewhere.

Privacy

The combination of discovery and loyalty will affect my personal identifiable digital footprint. What impact will this footprint have on “privacy policies”?

Privacy must become part of the backbone of personalization for it to become a reality and advance to answer our personal needs. Without impenetrable privacy, I likely won’t be joining the game.

There are many benefits (and potential risks) to true personalization, and vendors will have to adapt if they are to survive. The gatekeepers to our private information must understand the responsibility they bear, not just for one individual but for the advancement of the concept of the personalized experience.

I do hope my VPA will care for me enough to know what’s best for me, even if it means telling me I need to start exercising instead of ordering another pizza.

A version of this article appeared originally at Knowmail.

Ariel Kedem is the VP of Products at Knowmail, an AI messaging system.