Providing a Personalized Experience to Millions of Users @BBC

Personalization can be a very effective and impactful way for your organisation to attract new customers as well as to retain your existing customer base – if you get it right!

Delivering personalization at scale requires your systems to adapt to how your customers make use of your products.

At the BBC, I have had to optimize our personalization capabilities to be able to handle huge events such as the Queens funeral, the World Cup etc and events where it is difficult to predict the traffic profile e.g., Breaking News.

In this presentation, I will focus on:

  • The different levers available to tune your cloud application
  • Aligning your Data Model with the usage patterns for the data
  • Using Performance Tests to benchmark your application
  • Using monitoring dashboards for making data-driven decisions
  • Using cost-effective methods for providing Personalization at scale
  • Managing stakeholder expectations

What's the focus of your work these days?

I am working on quite a few different things. Being a Principal Software Engineer in the Data team, I am working with the team leadership on defining the strategic plan for the team. The long term and the mid term plans are now in place. We are trying to translate those into Objectives for the team to work on for the next couple of years. That involves reviewing our architecture, infrastructure and just checking whether we are in alignment with the rest of the Data Industry. 

I am leading a squad, working on the Performance and Capacity tuning of the Product that drives the Personalisation across the BBC digital offering. That's actually the topic for my talk at QCon. So, I guess I will leave the details for QCon.

I am also a BBC STEM ambassador, and currently working on two STEM workshops. They will be hosted in the first week of March. Really excited about the workshops.


What's the motivation for your talk at QCon London 2023?

Last year, the Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie announced the plan to deliver a digital-first BCC. As we know, Personalization is definitely the key to get new customers and retaining our existing customer base. This meant we wanted to further improve the performance of our Personalisation product. I was asked to lead this objective, and since then, I have been doing quite a few talks on this topic internally at the BBC.

I happened to meet a friend at lunch, where I was passionately telling her about this work. A week on, she called me regarding an opportunity to speak about this experience at QCon. I am a huge fan of QCon, and have been attending the conference for the last 3 years or so. I thought, yes, why not use the platform to share my experience along this journey? So, I guess, it’s a double motivation - to speak at such a huge event and also to share my experience with the rest of the people out there.


How would you describe your main persona and target audience for this session?

In today's world, all of us like a tailored experience. Personalization is helping industries to become successful. So the persona or the people who would be interested in this talk would be somebody who is getting started on this journey of personalizing their Products or someone who is trying to improve/increase personalization across their Products. That might involve checking whether they are aligned with the principles and practices followed by other industries or generally just curious about the best practices or the standards in this space.

Is there anything specific that you'd like people to walk away with after watching your session?

Definitely. As engineers, very often we think that we can solve problems just doing technical stuff by introducing some tactical solution. But I think we have to bear in mind that communication and collaboration is also very central for anything to be successful. 

The message would be, yes, you have to do the technical stuff, but firstly, open those channels of communication and collaboration with your stakeholders to understand the problem you are trying to solve and go along this journey together. Only then success would be yours. 



Manisha Lopes

Principal Software Engineer @BBC

Manisha is a Principal Software Engineer at the BBC specialising in addressing the challenges of working with data at scale and in building highly scalable data ingestion pipelines.

Prior to BBC, she has worked in Telecommunications and Customer Engagement industries focussed on building scalable web and mobile solutions, rolling out new products offerings.

Manisha lives and works in the UK. In her free time, she loves reading, travelling, cooking, and spending quality time with her daughters.

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Wednesday Mar 29 / 01:40PM BST ( 50 minutes )


Whittle (3rd Fl.)


performance monitoring case study events cloud Data


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