Traditional companies (manufacturers or any one in the classic supply chain) will be faced with competition for their customers attention. A company today strives to spend the majority of its attention on its differentiating value. That means GE doesn’t think how it buys pencils is a differentiating value. The attention that GE wishes to spend on those non-differentiating items is small and getting ever smaller. The funny thing is the attention efficiency GE seeks from its suppliers is in some cases the efficiency GE’s own customers are seeking.
So what does a company like GE do to meet the customers desires, it offers its customers the opportunity to spend less time managing the domain that GE’s products and services are applied in. For example, GE may build custom fuses for power plants but that is not the real value. The real value is ensuring that a fuse failure doesn’t take the plants production capability off line. What GE could provide the customer is an attention efficiency around monitoring a plant’s distribution network, coupled with a highly integrated logistics capability, and a ready supply of power distribution products. GE becomes the Tivo of power distribution, identify the parameters of need, set it and forget it. The attention that GE set free can be applied elsewhere. That attention efficiency doesn’t mean it costs less, though it should. It means that the company trades unskilled dollars for talent that can be used to improve revenue making operations.
More and more companies are going to be required to deliver more than a product, they will have to deliver a product wrapped in an attention efficiency.
The GE example is just for illustrative purposes.