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4 Emerging Trends of the Real-Time Web
Some hype and noise, along with a lot of potential
Bernard Moon (bernard)     Print Article 
Published 2009-11-06 21:43 (KST)   
There is a lot of hype surrounding the real-time web, and much of the feeding frenzy reminds me of the RSS space four years ago. While there is a lot of potential, there is also a lot of noise. How do you navigate through it all and which developments should you be paying attention to? What are the emerging trends for companies and entrepreneurs to watch for? Here are four real-time Web trends that I셫 tracking.

1. Real-Time Collaboration is Ripening

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time will play a major role in the future of online collaboration. We셶e seen all the hype around the new Google Wave platform, as well as the growth of Twitter and Twitter-like communications (such as Facebook status). On the business side, SAP셲 Gravity, a prototype of real-time collaborative business process modeling within Google Wave, is a good example. But I see this as the tip of the iceberg.

Companies that are more efficient have an advantage whether within their walls or with their customers. Imagine being able to make real-time changes with your colleague in another city and graphic designer at your local Kinko셲 to finalize a presentation and print it hours before your meeting. Or working with your manufacturer in Nanjing, China on changes to your new BBQ grill design and seeing if it셲 possible in real-time. Or game developers in Korea and Dallas story boarding a new video game concept in a new real-time game development application. There is massive potential for real-time collaboration across almost every discipline, and I believe there are an incredible amount of exciting possibilities here.

2. Real-Time Analytics Will Be Hot
The reality right now is that there isn셳 enough critical mass of real-time data in most areas, but when those tipping points are met, watch this space. This is not just about Twitter feeds, but shopping information, individual health information, movie and show reviews, and many other treasure troves of data.

Waze, which is a crowd-sourced mobile map and traffic information service, is effective in Israel where it initially launched and needed just 0.5% of the population to become a reliable service. It recently launched in the United States, and will be challenged to reach critical mass in its target markets for its product to be useful to end users, who provide the real-time data that is uses. While Waze is not necessarily an analytics application, it셲 a real-time information app (though it does analyze the data it receives in real-time to expose traffic patterns, accidents, and speed traps to users), it is an example of necessary tipping points for analytics to be relevant.

Once you have these real-time data sets, so many fields will be able to become more accurate and relevant in their decision-making processes. What type of real-time data would you like access to?

3. Real-Time Search is Looking Up
With Microsoft셲 and Google셲 recent foray into real-time search, it would be easy to assume that real-time search startups are dead in the water. But I believe there are many opportunities for startups in the space, especially as public life streaming activities increase (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, IMs) and real-time search moves to vertical categories.

Here셲 an example: Let셲 say you셱e wondering if you should you go see Depeche Mode in concert or if they are too old now to put on a good show. What are people saying about their concert from the evening before? If your search allows you to narrow your focus by date to make sure you셱e getting info only from last night셲 show, exclude all messages under 10 characters to filter out irrelevant information, and those from their home area of Basildon, Essex UK to rule out biases, you should be able to get a clear picture of what people think. Now that셲 information I can really use.

For the larger players, it will be a golden opportunity to capitalize on more event-driven ad dollars. Imagine the euphoria during the World Cup or Superbowl and all the tweets and messages surrounding these events. Now imagine the highly targeted ads that could be displayed to these users selling them championship videos or t-shirts at the height of their emotions. I셫 still amazed by the uncanny targeting of ads within Gmail, so it should be a short step for Google and other major advertising companies to be able to implement targeted ads across real-time streams.

4. Real-Time E-commerce is Coming
German company Apnoti indexes real-time pricing for consumers in the U.S and Germany. The primary benefit of their service is to help consumers find dramatic price fluctuations and to take advantage of pricing errors on various e-commerce sites. But this is really quite elementary compared to what is possible. For true real-time pricing to occur, there needs to be real-time inventory management, which will depend on major infrastructure companies such as EDS or IBM to build out those systems. As retailers move closer to real-time inventory management, they셪l improve on their pricing and sales efforts since they will be able to create more efficient price equilibrium adjustments.

For consumer facing applications, real-time pricing can be a competitive advantage for perishable goods. For example, the grocer with fresher fruit can theoretically charge or sell more by providing real-time freshness data. With the growth of smart energy grids, real-time pricing of solar energy and electric power provides tremendous cost-savings for consumers. Generally within e-commerce, real-time inventory information that is accessible through the web is valuable for both the consumer and company. What are the other areas of high impact? Travel? Off-season luxury goods? Event tickets?

There are so many areas that will be impacted by real-time technologies and practices in the coming years. I셶e highlighted these four trend areas, but where else do you see the real-time web changing our companies and lives?
Original published at Mashable.


Bernard Moon is Managing Director of the Lunsford Group, which is a private holding company consisting of entities in technology, media, research & consulting, health care, and real estate. He blogs at Silicon Moon.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bernard Moon

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