Posted by Michael Colombo

This was the question that we arrived at when we were thinking through some of the fundamental business challenges our telecommunications industry customers were facing a couple of years ago. We wondered on their behalf, “What revenue-generating opportunities are adjacent to the communications services they offer today?”

We landed on text.

We looked at SMS, and we looked at Twitter - what’s essentially a public SMS service - and we thought, “Imagine if you could use text messaging to do things?” This line of thinking lead us to a concept that we called, MetaText. At the core of MetaText was the idea of using the hashtag - a common “meta” texting tool - to add interactivity to text messaging. For instance, what if I could text, “#Pay $25 for lunch” to my friend and the transaction would just occur seamlessly…no websites…no apps…just text. What if I could text, “Do you want to see #JurassicWorld tonight?” to a friend and the movie trailer along with showtimes and ticketing options showed up in my SMS window? Again, right there in the context of our conversation, I could interact with rich web content, make a multilateral decision, and conduct commerce.

The work that we did on MetaText is what made me so fascinated by this recent Wired article, The Future of UI Design? The Old-School Text Message. It looks like text is finally an idea whose time has come. The thought-provoking question the article begs about the future of information interaction is an exciting one. We’ve already written about the continued rise of AI, and with it the seemingly inevitable end of the interface. Whether it is text, speech, or just pure thought, it seems that we will soon be interacting with information in a far more intuitive way. To that we say, “Finally!”

The other exciting thing about this article is that it is a reminder about how much fun it is to work at Maark. To see an idea that we published years ago finally gain momentum focuses us on what it means to be an Innovation Agency. Every agency like ours wants to be an Innovation Agency, but the truth is, we don’t always get to be one. Sometimes we are a Production Agency, serving as an extra set of hands for clients too busy to focus on anything past their immediate need. Sometimes we are an Ad Agency, creating clever messages and neat advertising to reach discreetly targeted audiences. But at the end of the day, when we get to be an Innovation Agency we get to help our clients imagine the future and discover where they fit into it. That’s a huge challenge, and an awesome opportunity.

It’s here that we are most useful, and have the most fun. And it’s this mission that catalyzes both great stories and our best ideas for how to tell them. It’s always inspiring to see ideas move forward, hastening what is to us, our sometimes-imaginable future. #WhatsNext