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The future state of messaging systems...

Gazing into the future is difficult.  It is fraught with error and generally limited by our finite experience and limited perspectives.  In spite of these obvious limitations, let’s play "what if" for a moment and pretend that we have a clue as to what might come to pass in future messaging systems.

Years ago I was at a conference in New York City.  I was gone for a week before returning to my office.  When I returned I looked at the many messages that had accumulated in my inbox.  These messages were in text and audio format.  It was a "universal inbox" and contained all my email and voice mail.  Mind you, this was in the 1993-94 time-frame.  What struck me was this:  in front of me was 7 days of messages and although many conversations had continued without me  (I was copied), I had in front of me the ability to “step into the conversation” or to interject at any point in time over the last seven days.  I could pick-up a conversational string at the beginning, in the middle or the near the end – anywhere within the “point in time” where I wanted to insert my comments...  This was an “aha” moment in my thinking.

“Daddy what do you do?”  Such was the question my children would ask when they were small.  Trying to simplify I responded, “I get paid to predict the future” and a chuckle.  Why would I respond with such a flippant answer?  Well, as a young Circulation Director in a publishing company, our company President would run a contest to see who could predict how many paid subscribers we would have 12 months in the future.  We would also predict what the company revenue would be for that same time frame.  We had several years of response history and the first year we ran the contest my “guess” was within 3% on both subscribers and revenue.  The second year the same thing happened, only I was disqualified from the contest in year two.

Why do I tell you these two stories?  Very simple, direct marketers are in the business of using predictive models to estimate what response rates will be when they go-to-market.  On more than one occasion I’ve been privileged to see 80% response rates based on predictive models we had built.  Granted they did not scale very well but with increased scale, the rates would drop to 60%, then 40%, 20% and lower into “normal” response rate ranges.  Keep in mind these were order rates where people would buy things for hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time.

When I see the ability to predict revenue with 97% accuracy, order rates of 80% and messaging systems that remove the limitations of time and space, in my view of the world, it is only a matter of time before messaging systems start to leverage predictive analytics and other forthcoming technologies to deliver future state messages for those that arrive in the future based on predictive behavioral models.

Let’s theorize for a few minutes…

Assume if you will that predictive models are built based on your behaviors.

Assume further that there are no secrets on the web.  This is something I constantly tell my family… and isn’t too hard to grasp given the widespread use of cell phones, cameras and digital glasses (think Google glasses)

Assume that networks of the future are built on light.  This shouldn’t be too hard to imagine since fiber optic networks exist now and move petabytes of data around the globe – almost instantly.  But let’s assume that fiber optic networks become wireless and that their spectrum of choice is light... and that all space is governed by light and that light is the law by which all space is governed...further suggesting there is no space in which there is no law.

Now let’s consider storage for a moment.  Recently published in Nature, by Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney is the notion that DNA can be used to store digital information for tens of thousands of years instead of using magnetic media which must be replaced every few years.  One of the more interesting observations from this paper is that DNA remains readable for tens of thousands of years only IF it is kept somewhere cool, dark and dry.  Perhaps this is the purpose of dark matter in our universe?  Obviously I don't know, but perhaps it is the “store house” of tens of thousands or even millions of years of human experience… only to be retrieved at the appropriate moments in time…

So, here we are, playing with the limits of messaging systems, built on predictive models, based on individual behaviors, captured and stored digitally in DNA, saved in dark matter, only to deliver highly personalized messages via a wireless network using light as the medium to the right person at the right time in the right location.  Maybe it looks something like this and it is delivered through a "tele-presence messenger" from me to my posterity:



Sounds a little far-fetched?  Perhaps... but in my opinion it’s just a matter of time and technology before we can use recombinant technologies, built on massively predictive models to deliver the right content  to the right person at the right time – entirely overcoming the limits of time and space.

ExactTarget, Marketo, Eloqua, Unica, Responsys, Act-On and a dozen more are on the early frontiers of messaging systems that will radically change how we think of communication and messaging systems.

© 2013 I.R. Gilyeat & Company |  www.irgilyeat.com

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Tags: automation, digital, email, marketing, markting, messaging, systems

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Comment by Ian Gilyeat on February 28, 2013 at 5:45am

I would say yes, but I'm drawing a blank as to the ones I've looked at. :)

In my view, there is still a fair amount of discussion around how the brain actually works.  Some will argue that the brain has perfect and permanent storage, but poor recall.  Whereas others may frame it in a fashion similar to your statement - that it discards old and irrelevant information.

On the inbox front, some of the newer ones for organizing your inbox (sanebox.comunrollme.com, clearcontext.com) all appear to be around organization and making things disappear... although that's not the same thing as deleting, decomposing or managing the decay of older information.  I'm not overly impressed with them since they appear to mostly simplify functions you already have in Outlook and spam blockers (disclosure - I also haven't done a deep dive on them).

Comment by Brian on February 27, 2013 at 8:50pm
Do you know if anyone is working on algorithms to treat digital information the same way as our brain does?

By that I mean how we sweep up and decay irrelevant information. I.e. I could tell you what I ate yesterday and today but probably not a month ago (unless it was a memorable event). Current email and messaging systems generally lack this context though newer systems are startling to tackle this.

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