I was catching up on some of podcasts that I’d stored up when I came across a few that reinforced one of the issues I have been talking about for a while – attention engineering. NPR’s Science Friday had a couple of podcasts dealing with issues relating to human attention and missing important events that are taking place.
The first is titled Stealing Attention and the second one is How We Pay Attention. Both demonstrate how easy it is for us to miss important details of what is going on around us when we concentrate on specific areas. They have some great videos that demonstrate the phenomenon.
With our technological advancement, we have all this computational capability and data coming at us. Making the most of it means we need to think about how presenting the information in a context that we can consume or even handle it for us so we are not interrupted by “normal” information can be critical to maximizing value. I was in a discussion just this week with an organization that was talking about hosting their systems with cloud computing or bringing in a SaaS set of functionality. If the consistent user interface issues are not considered, the likelihood of significantly higher business value creation will be slim. In fact, if there are enough inconsistencies it could be distracting enough to prevent you from seeing the “gorilla in the data”.
My first thought? Organizations must look at this impact of the IT systems on the way the users think, when they plan their investment in their applications.