The Right-Time Web

(By my friend and colleague David Boardman @dbboardman)

A new buzzword, “right-time web,” has generated a great deal of interest recently. Effectively, it illustrates how the exponential growth of the “real-time,” web where live streams are continuously fed to us via social networks and media properties are of little use unless they are accessible at the right-time – in context. Supersaturated with real-time information, we don’t have the capacity to make immediate use of the endless amount of content that is generated. In looking at my Twitter feed this morning, I probably don’t care where my old college buddy had dinner and drinks last night in Austin, but when I travel there for business next month – that info suddenly becomes very relevant: right-time.

At Twitter’s Chirp conference April 15, Venrock’s David Pakman said, “The ‘right-time’ Web is more valuable in some cases than the real-time Web. Real-time data is only interesting when I’m actually looking for that information. There’s no service today that’s giving information when it’s really needed. If your company is doing that…I brought my checkbook.”

Pakman stated, “What is really needed is a service to collect, organize, and make available all the data shared by my networks.  Some call this social search.  I call it something bigger.  Life search.”

“Life search” is an interesting take on where the web is headed. After all, the most important piece to realizing the “right-time” web is YOU.  For systems to know when it is the right-time they need to have a deep understanding of you in context. This understanding of you will be derived from your personal data locker, which will include, or bring together, preferences, data, possessions, social graph, location data, your roles, and your intent. In addition to the personal data locker, the “right-time” web requires semantic understanding of content and websites and applications that leverage personal data lockers to present “right-time” interactions. Agents like Siri are in the early stages of providing similar services.

A look into the future: The “right-time web” in action

My personal data locker contains, among many other data points, my affinity for U2 and live music, 3 previous U2 premium ticket purchases, I live in Seattle, I purchased a ticket to LA for a business trip June 7th, and my friends Joe, Will, and Neil like U2.

I go to my favorite right -time web portal, application, or agent and express that “I want to go a U2 concert.” The agent responds with three options:

1) You will be in LA on business June 7th and U2 is playing in Anaheim.  Your client at XYZ Co. has been tweeting about the U2 tour.

2) U2 is playing on June 20th in Seattle and your friend Joe may be interested in going with you.

3) U2 is playing in Oakland on June 16th and your college friends Neil (lives in SF) and Will (lives in Dallas, but has a trip to SF registered in Trip It for this date) may be interested in going and Alaska Airlines is running special fares to SFO.

Option 3 sounds the most exciting and so my right-time web service provides me all of the necessary travel arrangements to choose from. I am presented with flight deals for Alaska Airlines (my preferred carrier) and Virgin America (at a slightly lower cost). I see hotel options from the Marriott (preferred) and at the Hilton, which is one block from the concert and Will is premium club member. I check out relevant aggregated feeds and reviews from trip advisor, tweets, four square check-ins, and gowalla pictures. I checkout premium tickets available at TicketsNow.com leveraging buyer reviews from social graph regarding sellers. I invite Will and Neil to collaborate at a convenient time (proposed by my agent based on inferred availability) OR a threaded conversation over email, facebook, twitter, or other appropriate messaging services.

The service sets up a Skype session at 8:30 pm – Will, Neil, and I accept the invitation. We jump on Skype, see relevant data (flights, hotels, reviews, tweets from each of the social graphs) in our right-time widget, and decide to stay at the Hilton because Will gets free upgrades to a suite and his company will be paying for it. The agent offers to adjust his booked flight on American, and I confirm my flight on Alaska.  We decide to go with the premium seats offered through a secondary ticket service.

Imagine throughout the weekend the “right-time” web helps the three of us find the right places to eat and bars to visit.  Right-time information is presented based on our location, college buddy roles, shared preferences (likes and dislikes) AND influenced by relevant real time data (facebook, twitter, foursquare, gowalla, yelp) available from our social groups. The Right-time web allows us to leverage the value of the real time web that we otherwise would have missed out on.  All of the real time data that flies by at the wrong time is now brought into focus and improves our experience. 

What does it mean for business?

The building blocks for the “right-time” web (personal data lockers, linked data, semantic understanding, and agents) will provide businesses the ability to offer customers more relevant, convenient, and useful content and experiences. 1:1 marketing is not a new concept, but having the ability to actually do it at the “right-time” will be.

Hurry up world.  I want my “right-time” web!

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