The opportunity I see (not the only one) in the attention portion of the cognitive economy, resides in the creation of applications that reduce the amount of attention we have to spend doing meaningless or redundant stuff. If you run a business think about how much time a customer has to spend to complete a transaction with your company. Here is an example:
When you open a bank account why doesn’t the bank identify your preferred language on your ATM card. Better yet, the bank could set your default language based on the language you selected in the first 5 transactions. A simple attention efficiency.
The opportunities are endless and range from simple to infinitely complex. In complex and competitive markets attention efficiencies are powerful differentiators. Companies continue to think about the relationships with their customers in very traditional terms. The future is building systems and applications that allow customer to exchange information in return for future attention. Think of attention as currency, it’s always great when we get more for less money.
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.
I think that the attention economy is best served talking about Attention efficiency.
Attention efficiency is the ratio of useful, valuable, or effective output to the total attention input in any system or systems.
For example, the attention efficiency of television changed a great deal when Tivo arrived on the scene, reducing the required input to get the same value. To deliver on the attention economy is to deliver attention efficiency. If managing Tivo consumes the same amount of attention as the eliminated commercials then Tivo has done nothing to deliver attention efficiency (not the best example, but its late). So as attention becomes the measure of value then we must understand what burdens our applications and businesses place on the attention of our customer / users / observers.
Today we lack any real attention efficiency due to the fact that we are required to interact in so many different silos. I like to think that we will move the online experience (offline experience will slowly disappear) from one of silos that force attention inefficiencies, to a paradigm of situational awareness that is driven by creating attentional efficiencies based on our individual values.
It is critical to point out that the folks who think about attention are themselves early adopters and forward thinkers, that is not the case for everybody else. So our success is dependant on folks that don’t think about attention but value it and desire simple means to deliver more effective output from their attention investments.
The definition of efficiency courtesy of Answer.com