Your success in personalising the customer experience will be based on your readiness and ambition. Readiness is a function of your people, process, technology and data. Ambition is a function of the personalisation business case, the sophistication you wish to apply, and the consistency you want to achieve across channels.
As the matrix shows, when ambition outstrips readiness the personalisation project is at risk of failing. Essentially the risk of failure increases given the capability gap you need to fill in order to achieve your goals. Also the amount of work required will be significant which will give you issues around funding and stakeholder management.
At the opposite corner, when readiness is far greater than ambition, the business is failing to achieve the full value of personalisation. For instance a business with a sophisticated email marketing platform that only personalises the subject line is not getting the full value out of that expensive asset.
My recommendation is that before starting in personalisation, you take stock of how you’re doing and create a set of requirements that is a match to that. Having matched readiness and ambition you can create a roadmap and plan that gradually builds your business capability, achieves success and helps you gear up to the most sophisticated levels of personalisation.
For more on personalisation, I recommend you read 4 make or break rules for personalisation by my colleague Matt Roberts.
You may also be interested in this post on the top web optimisation techniques available.