I've been flying US Airways
This seemingly routine query really annoyed me. In all the years I've flown with them, no one ever thought to store this data somewhere? Shouldn't they be saying, "Thank you, Mr. DiPietro, I assume you'd like a window seat?" I've requested a window seat every time I've flown, yet no one at the company had the foresight to suggest storing personal preferences.
This, among many other reasons, explains why US Airways will never be a home run stock.
Great companies use great technology
In his book Rules for Revolutionaries, former Apple exec Guy Kawasaki describes many of the necessary attributes of groundbreaking companies. One of the most important qualities is the ability to "think digital, act analog." Thinking digital means that companies must use technology to look at data and mine information to better serve customers. Acting analog means using that information while applying a personal touch. The execs at US Airways could learn a thing or two from that.
Unfortunately, thousands of companies suffer from this same problem. Some don't even try; others try and fail miserably.
Ever wonder how Borders
While many of its customers wildly dislike it, Comcast
The home run stock you're looking for
Fortunately, there are still plenty of companies that know how to think digital and act analog. The analysts at Motley Fool Rule Breakers look for these companies, which employ digital expertise to enhance user experience. Here are three stocks that have virtually perfected this quality.
It's probably no surprise to find Google on this list. The undisputed king of online search uses your search history to help you find future information and aggregate data. The last time I went into the search box to type in the name of a stock I owned, I was only two letters deep before Google recognized what I was searching for. Quick, easy, and nearly invisible.
TiVo uses your stated preferences to help you find comparable TV shows. If you TiVo the latest NHL playoff game and give it a "thumbs up," your TiVo will most likely try to record future hockey games.
3. Yum! Brands
Ever want to order a pizza, but don't feel like getting up, finding the number, and browsing the menu? No problem, if you're in the mood for Yum!'s Pizza Hut. Pull up their app on your smartphone, customize your pie of choice, and complete your order within seconds.
All three of these companies know how to use technology -- not obnoxiously in your face, but behind the scenes. More importantly, they know how to give you better options that will ultimately enhance your experience.
Half digital, half analog, all winner
It's no surprise that Google, TiVo, and Yum! Brands have all been home run stocks over the last half-decade. Respectively, their shares have surged by 117%, 180%, and 70% over that time period. And while their size makes future gargantuan gains unlikely, these are still home run stocks with room to run. You can bet that these companies' leaders will continually try to improve your experience.
David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool and advisor for Rule Breakers, constantly seeks companies that fit this bill, including a new arrival to the newsletter's roster that embodies digital/analog characteristics to the tee. LivePerson helps clients such as Microsoft and Verizon keep individual customers by tracking and responding to their web-surfing trends. Last year, LivePerson's revenue increased by 17%, and adjusted earnings more than doubled. Best of all, this company is small -- only a $400 million market cap -- so it still has plenty of room to run before it gets discovered.
If you're looking for the next home run stock, you can read all about LivePerson -- and other companies that understand how to profit from "thinking digital" and "acting analog" -- absolutely free. We're currently offering a 30-day trial run for Rule Breakers, with unrestricted access to all of David's past and present recommendations. Click here for more information.
Already a member of Rule Breakers? Log in at the top of the page.
This article was originally published on April 8, 2010. It has been updated.
Jordan DiPietro owns no shares of the companies mentioned above. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Motley Fool Optionshas recommended a bull call spread position on Yum! Brands. The Fool has a disclosure policy.