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Power Your Business with the Real Time Web
By David Naffis and Pradeep Elankumaran

The Internet as we know it has certainly changed the business world. And just when you thought the web was as good as it could get, it’s about to evolve again.

Up until now, the Internet was primarily about sharing information. You put up a web page, post a white paper, upload product images and details. Then people search you, your company, or your products and services and eventually find your Web site.

The new evolution of the Internet, however, focuses more on collaboration rather than sharing. Called Real Time Web (RTW) or web 3.0, it enables your information to get “pushed” to the people who are interested in your topics, products or services. In other words, if a person is interested in something your company is involved in, produces, offers, or manufactures (and that person has specified those parameters of interest in their web settings), then whenever you put out information it would automatically get sent to the person rather than the person having to search for it.

As far as using RTW technology internally in your company, it enables you to collaborate with your team members in real time and even edit documents together in real time regardless of where everyone is physically located. You can also get updates from co-workers in real time. So as tasks are completed or projects pushed through to the next phases, you would know about it immediately rather than having to wait for an e-mail update or to physically check the status on something. And you can get the information on both your desktop and mobile device, so no matter where you are you can stay informed.

In essence, the RTW is going to change the architecture of the web and how Web sites interact with each other. It’s going to promote the trusted exchange of user data and tighter integration between web applications over multiple devices. It will also change how we interact with applications, share and utilize information, and collaborate with one another as the next generation of web applications taking advantage of this new paradigm are created.

Unfortunately, because RTW is not well-defined yet, many people don’t know what it is. In fact, we’re just starting to see the first versions of applications like Twitter and FriendFeed that focus on consumer-oriented RTW. So when business owners and managers talk about RTW, they’re not clear about what it is, how it could apply to their business, and how they can take advantage of it.

Whether you’re just starting to investigate the possibilities with RTW or are using some fledgling RTW applications, the following suggestions will help you understand and integrate RTW into your organization.

Educate yourself on what Real Time Web is
As stated earlier, the web as we know it (or web 2.0) was all about sharing pictures, videos, and information. Web 3.0, or RTW, is all about sharing that information in real time for immediate awareness, collaboration, and sharing. For example, web 2.0 included document collaboration in the form of wikis, whereas the real-time web generation of document collaboration will involve many people editing and updating a document at once, seeing the changes made by others immediately, and collaborating concurrently as opposed to the asynchronous web 2.0 version. Think of it as the web on steroids. Access to information just got faster, meaning clients, customers, co-workers, and anyone else can communicate with you, learn from you, and collaborate with you easier and better than in the past. The time period between you posting something and others seeing it is mere seconds to minutes, rather than the traditional days to weeks.

Investigate the leading real-time applications to get a feel for the technology
Some examples of RTW applications are Twitter, FriendFeed, Present.ly, and Drop.io. So if you’d like to “see” RTW web in action, a good place to start is Twitter. In fact, Twitter is now given credit for being the first to come up with real time search. Here’s how Internet search typically works: Google goes out and indexes the entire web. When you use Google to search for something, you type in your search phrase and Google displays the results. However, those results are not always up to date. They are only current according to when Google did their last update, which could be a week ago or longer. With Twitter, though, you can find information right as it’s happening. This has been demonstrated with recent natural disasters around the world and other major events. People are going to Twitter to find out what’s going on right now.

Brainstorm how your company can utilize RTW technology
Your company could gain a lot by being on the leading edge of this movement toward real-time information sharing … or you could lose a lot if you are not planning for it. Here are some ways your company could use RTW:
--You could respond to customers as they complain or voice issues with your company. In fact, some companies have dedicated employees monitoring Twitter to identify upset customers and to rectify the situation immediately before any damage is done to the company’s reputation.
--You could send coupon codes to people where the coupon is only available for the next six hours. Think of it like the famous television infomercial line, “Call in the next 10 minutes and you’ll also get …”
--You can use some tools internally, such as micro-blogging, to stay up-to-date in real time within your own company.
--You could build a brand on Twitter and use RTW to promote your company. For example, a small pizza shop in California posts their menu online every day. People receive it, see it, and make their lunchtime eating decision before they’ve even had breakfast. So as far as marketing goes, there are endless opportunities for leveraging RTW.
--You could send off information much quicker than in the past and have it read immediately by your customers or employees.

Get In Early for the Most Rewards
The bottom line is that those companies taking advantage of RTW are reaping the benefits right now. And the good news is that there’s more to come in the near future. As the months progress, we’ll see new technologies and uses that no one has yet thought of. More and more people and companies are gravitating toward the RTW to power the next generation of Internet. By all accounts, it’s an exciting time to be online.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dave Naffis is a senior partner and co-founder of Intridea. Pradeep Elankumaran is director of research and development at Intridea. Intridea is a full-service web and mobile consulting firm that helps companies with design, development, and strategy. Their specialized professionals provide simple, intuitive solutions on everything from social and business collaboration to cloud computing to web and mobile applications. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. For more information on Intridea’s products and services, visit www.intridea.com.

 
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