In today's information-flooded world, the scarcest resource is not ideas or even talent: it's attention. In this groundbreaking book, Thomas Davenport and John Beck argue that unless companies learn to effectively capture, manage, and keep it--both internally and out in the marketplace--they'll fall hopelessly behind.
In The Attention Economy, the authors also outline four perspectives on managing attention in all areas of business:
1) measuring attention
2) understanding the psychobiology of attention
3) using attention technologies to structure and protect attention
4) adapting lessons from traditional attention industries like advertising
Drawing from exclusive global research, the authors show how a few pioneering organizations are turning attention management into a potent competitive advantage and recommend what attention-deprived companies should do to avoid losing employees, customers, and market share. A landmark work on the twenty-first century's new critical competency, this book is for every manager who wants to learn how to earn and spend the new currency of business.
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If you like to keep on top of what's going on in the world but find it difficult to get through more than a section or two of the Sunday New York Times, take heart. Were you to actually plow through the whole thing, even just once, you'd be taking in more factual information than was gathered in all the written material available to a reader in the 15th century. And that's just a Sunday paper; what about all the e-mail, voice mail, meetings, Web pages (2 billion or so of them), and publications (more than 60,000 new books and 18,000 magazines published annually in the U.S. alone) vying for your attention? According to Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck, we live in an age of information overload, where attention has become the most valuable business currency. Welcome to The Attention Economy.
If yesterday was the age of information, today is the age of trying to attract or employ people's attention. Indeed, leaders and managers in the business world face this two-fold problem daily, constantly seeking the attention of their customers and employees while managing their own limited supply. Declaring that "understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success," the authors examine what attention is, how it can be measured, how it's being technologically constructed and protected, and where and how attention is being most effectively exploited.
Predictably, nowhere are these economics more important than in the realm of e-commerce. In the chapter entitled "Eyeballs and Cyber Malls," the authors discuss the strategies needed to gain and maintain attention "stickiness." The book contains numerous suggestions on how leaders can manage their own attention and that of their employees more effectively (and how to avoid and treat info-stress), but always with an eye on the ultimate goal: affecting the type and amount of attention your customers give you. Already, more money is often spent on attracting attention to a product than spent on the product itself (we're reminded of The Blair Witch Project, which cost a mere $350,000 to make and $11 million to market). And as our information environment gets increasingly saturated, holding a person's attention becomes an ever more difficult proposition; as the authors suggest, actually paying for someone to receive your information is a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future. Indeed, the book's final chapter is devoted to what the authors predict will affect attention in the future, and how attention can and will be acquired, monitored, and distributed.
The Attention Economy is peppered with anecdotal pull-outs and "overheard" comments; though intriguing in as random factoids and zippy, little quotes, this sideline information doesn't always tie in with the authors' points and often seems distracting. The book is well written, though, and the authors, both of whom work at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, take an informed and well-balanced look at what is perhaps our society's most priceless, ephemeral commodity. --S. KetchumFrom the Back Cover:
"In a world where hyper-speed, disruptive technologies, great new apps, and too many Emails overwhelm, where DSL has replaced LSD as an escape, and where every waking minute is clogged with information overload, what's a leader to do? First, take a deep breath. Second, read Tom Davenport and John Beck's The Attention Economy. You'll breathe-and lead-a lot easier."
-Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and Author, Managing the Dream
"Tom Davenport and John Beck bring a sharp eye to one of the greatest challenges facing CEOs: ensuring that key issues are at the front-of-mind of the organization. The Attention Economy shows you how to tune out the unnecessary and tune into what's most important."
-Gregory L. Summe, Chairman and CEO, PerkinElmer, Inc.
"As we drown in a sea of information and consistently fail to get our messages across, we all know intuitively that the attention economy is real. This insightful and informative book explains the mechanisms of attention and offers pragmatic techniques for managing your attention and capturing that of others."
-John Seely Brown, Former Director, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and Coauthor, The Social Life of Information
"After reading The Attention Economy, it is clear to me that attention isn't really 'paid'-it's either given as a loan or managed as an investment. For companies that appreciate those distinctions, Davenport and Beck's book is an essential management resource."
-Michael Schrage, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab, and Author, Serious Play
"Davenport and Beck have written the first full exposition of how attention works in the knowledge economy. A stimulating and fun read."
-Larry Prusak, Executive Director, IBM Institute for Knowledge Management, and Coauthor, In Good Company
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