When Real Time Is *Not* Fast Enough: The Intention Web

Things started slow
I remember when people would go to conferences, take notes, then share them a few hours or days later.  Then in 2005-2006 I noticed people started to live blog sessions, anxious readers would refresh as the page was updated in real time –sometimes with photos.  Fast forward to Dec 2006, Twitter emerges to the early adopters and people begin to share in real-time.   Plurk, Jaiku, and then Facebook status updates emerge, followed by the enterprise vendors like SocialText, it’s not just a product, status updates are now a feature.

[The Intention Web: A Published, Anticipated Goal.]

When Real Time Is Not Fast Enough: The Intention Web
I’ll be presenting at Europe’s largest tech conference, LeWeb next week.  My topic?  When Real-Time Isn’t Fast Enough: The Future Of the Web (I’ll publish slides, later).  In particular, with event planning features, like Facebook events, upcoming.org, we’re starting to see people make explicity public remarks on what they want to do, when, and with who.  Welcome plancast.com a startup by Mark Hendrickson formerly of Techcrunch who created this simple website that allows people to broadcast what they plan to do next using Twitter or Facebook.

Web Strategy Matrix: Asynchronous, Real-Time, and Intention Web

What It is, and Examples Opportunities Challenges
Asynchronous Web Information exchanging between multiple sets of time. People publish, someone else reads later.  Examples: News sites, press releases, websites without social features. Information with longer term shelf life can be archived and consumed. Much of today’s information is related to real time events, people want to share their thoughts and experiences, this is quickly getting outdated as social features empower real time conversations appear, regardless.
Real-Time Web Information published as it happens, often, content is consumed in real time, with the reader also broadcasting back, resulting in synchronous communication. Examples: Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook Status updates. Consumers can give instant feedback about their needs. Companies can respond to the immediate needs of customers. Excessive noise from everyone publishing their status. Companies unable to sort through noise, prioritize, and react. This problem to compound over time.
Intention Web Information that provides explicit predictions of who will do what next, although it’s not happened yet.  Examples: Upcoming.org, Facebook events, Plancast. Update: Silicon Valley Insider writes about Tweetmeme, Topsy, Sency, OneRiot People can connect to each other, improving experience. Businesses can provide a more contextualized experience for customers or prospects using Social CRM Explicit intentions may not be true, the future is always uncertain. Companies can barely keep up with real time web –let alone predict the future.

Intention Web Provides People and Companies Opportunities
Some may call this the, anticipation web, intention web, or forward looking web, but regardless of the name, there are some unique opportunities:  1) People can now use their social relationships that have similar goals or events on their cal and improve their experience.  2) They can also identify who in their social circles are most likely going where, increasing their knowledge of top events.  3) This provides businesses with the ability to listen to provide highly contextualized offerings and experiences for those explicitly stating their intents. Once a listening strategy is developed, expect Social CRM to be in the foreground mining, organizing, and making this data actionable.

Yet Barriers Will Challenge Consumers and Companies
Yet the intent based web is also fraught with challenges for both people and companies.  1) Status updates are still getting traction.  Twitter has the media hype, but not yet the mainstream adoption, so you can’t expect the social behaviors of everyone to broadcast their future intents.  2) For those that do broadcast their intent, should be concerned about privacy and personal security.  3)  The future is always uncertain, a great degree of intention data will be inaccurate. 4) Most companies can’t even keep up with the asynchronous web, let alone the real-time web, and certainly not the intent based web.

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Above: Plancast allows me to broadcast my goals which include, what, where, and when.

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Above: My goals can now be published to Twitter, Facebook, or to my friends on Plancast.

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Above: Community can subscribe to Paul Greenberg’s intentions, who’s set a goal to attend the upcoming SAP event.

Bottom Line: Intention Web Will Provide Consumers With Contextualized Experiences
Expect the real-time web to quickly evolve into the intention web. People will work together to share their information about what they plan to do, and improve how they work or organize. Expect Social CRM systems (Salesforce, SAP), Brand Monitoring vendors (Radian6, Visible Technologies), and Search Engines (Bing and Google) to quickly try to make predictive models on what could happen, and what are the chances. Businesses that have a physical location like retail, events, or packaged goods can use this data to anticipate consumer demand. They may offer contextualized marketing, or increase or decrease inventory or store hours to accommodate. Don’t be surprised in the future and you walk into a store with your preferred items, meal, or drink already nicely packaged for you.