Questions on Enterprise Attention Management

May 7, 2008 at 11:31 am | Posted in Attention Management, interruption science | Leave a comment

A couple of questions came up in my EAM presentation on Monday night:

Q. It seems that the EAM conceptual architecture is all about the receivers and not the senders or messages.

A. First, I need to mention that by “Enterprise” I mean intra- and inter-enterprise.  In otherwords, it doesn’t apply to companies trying to grab the attention of consumers.  That issue has its own fields of study: advertising and marketing.  My intent here is not to help advertisers scream louder or to help create more pointed messages to surgically skewer personalized targets. I’m trying to help organizations improve the effectiveness of their own information workers by examining how to enable them with attentional technologies and capabilities to pull important messages closer and push less important messages further back.

That said, in reviewing my materials I have to agree that I spend more time talking about how to help receivers of messages than senders.  Most of my research in creating my EAM architecture and the questions I have received from larger enterprises are about the information worker trying to sort through information, handle their inbox, and deal with interruptions.  Outside of consumer advertising you just don’t see a lot of studies on the other side of the coin: how people send messages or store content.  I think this is because a decade ago we shifted from an age of information scarcity to information abundance, as my colleague Guy Creese has written and as is well catalogued in David Shenk’s book Data Smog.

Most of the technologies, capabilities, and processes used by creators of information to make their information easier to find are more in the knowledge management (and, more specifically information management) domain than EAM.  These include use of content metadata, versioning, aging policies, use of taxonomy and ontology, navigation, and content repository architectural design.

What I do talk about is how enterprises can provide an appropriate set of communication and collaboration mechanisms for senders, provide guidance to senders on which channels and workspaces to use and how to use them, and put monitoring in place to be alerted to explosive trends.

Q. If this is about what enterprises as a whole can do, how come my examples are about what individuals can do (for example, setting email rules)?

As I quoted from Gary Masada of Chevron in my posting on Cornering the Corner Office about Information Overload: “Technology can be an enabler that helps people do this.  But in the end an individual will have to do it.”

I am not recommending that CIOs and owners of attentional technologies figure out how to organize the time and workloads of their information workers or start setting up filters for them.  There’s a level of indirection here – the owners deploy technologies and processes that information workers can then use to help themselves.

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