Last week in Mountain View, Read Write Web hosted the Real-Time Web Summit, an un-conference that brought together some of the most interesting people I’ve met in a while. 200+ people in a room with their brains all focused for 8+ hours on the emerging opportunities around realtime. Of course, the usual suspects were all present – Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook. Twitter was absent, though their investors Betaworks had a few folks in the room. Most interestingly, though were the number and diversity of companies represented. From Realtime search start-ups like OneRiot to a number of players in the analytics space, to new-breed content players like AllVoices. Among the events’ sponsors were Tibco – a long established player in financial services software that has evolved it’s positioning around “real-time business” and “The Power of Now.”
For The Realtime Project’s delegation of one all the way from London, this room full of thinkers, do-ers, starters, and players was an exciting and eye-opening event.
When we launched the Realtime Project in April, we were met with a nearly universal chorus of “huh’s?”
Fortunately, our charter clients took the leap of faith alongside us, and since then we’ve seen the marketplace explode as a number of trends accelerate in parallel. Quite obviously Twitter and it’s emerging eco-system are the definitive ‘realtime’ proof points for most people. However, from our point-of-view, the rapid growth in the smart phone market and the clear emergence of the handset as the platform for realtime engagement as well as the clear behavioural shifts around TV consumption (the rise of social TV), the increasingly time-based and event-driven nature of e-commerce, the upsurge of interest (and funding) in augmented reality and location-aware technologies. All are larger proof points that emerged as interesting discussion threads at the RTWS event.
In the afternoon, William Mougayar, Founder and CEO of Equentia, moderated a session on monetization which kicked off with a discussion of The Realtime Enterprise, and whether the current fervor around Realtime is hype or reality. A few people around the table articulated the perspective that particularly in some industries (for example, banking and financial services), ‘realtime’ is old news, and the concept of the “Realtime Enterprise” has already had its 15 minutes (Dimitris Chorafas’ The Real-Time Enterprise and Michael Hugos’ Executive Briefing on Building the Real-Time Enterprise were both published in 2004).
Though this is certainly true, our take on this is that the focus of Real-Time Enterprise 1.0 was solidly on technology and the capabilities that technology could enable to deliver organisational efficiencies. In 2004, however, we were pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-mass broadband and smartphone adoption. That’s why these titles stayed on the Business bookshelf connecting with a limited audience of tech-savvy management gurus and corporate strategists.
Contrast that with today’s people-centric definition driven by the current and accelerating mass consumption and adoption of consumer-oriented technologies and devices (i.e. social networks, smartphones). Whereas the Real-Time Enterprise 1.0 was focused on technology and the potential of zero latency, the Real-Time Enterprise 2.0 should be focused on the consumer’s expectation of zero latency combined with the accessibility of the devices that enable it.
From an organisational standpoint, whereas the concept of the Real-Time Enterprise 1.0 might have engaged the CTO and the CIO, Realtime Enterprise 2.0 impacts the entire organisation both externally and internally. Savvy senior leadership across all functions will herald this call-to-action as a driver to innovate new commercial and organisational models.
Combined with the macro-recessionary forces, it’s ultimately the massive shift in consumer behaviour that’s wreaking havoc with the organisation charts that we’re most familiar with – those of the major players in all aspects of media, entertainment, advertising, and marketing services – as they struggle to adapt to the pace of change and to evolve new products, services, and business models that deliver against the marketplace’s expectations.
The Real-Time Summit-eers that the RWW team convened last week are the closest to the action. We’re excited to have been a part of it, and to play a role in whatever happens next.