Now that you’ve seen some examples of digital efficiency and we defined what this concept means, here are three key things that you should know. First, efficiency comes in many forms. Efficiency is a broad concept. It can mean different things to different people. I like to think of efficiency as a favorable input-to-output ratio.
When something is efficient, the amount of input required is low or the amount of output is high. For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll focus more on the input side. Now, most activities in life require us to input at least one of three things: money, time, or energy. Sometimes, we have to input all three of these scarce and valuable resources. For example, installing a toilet requires a substantial investment in time and energy, and also money to think about the opportunity cost of your time. If the inputs of these investments can be reduced or made more efficient by digital tools, we’ll see examples of digital dominance.
For example, digital toll reading technologies like the I-PASS provide considerable savings in terms of money and time for the governments that manage tollways since they save costs of not having to process cash payments which are expensive and very time-consuming endeavor. Likewise, for many products, shopping on Amazon.com, usually requires less money, time, and energy than shopping at a analog retailer. Second, twice as nice. One neat feature of efficiency is that this approach usually provides benefits to both the buyer and the seller. This is a win-win for both sides of the exchange transaction. For example, the instructions posted on Instructables clearly benefit the people like me who download them by enabling them to do things they couldn’t do before.
However, they also benefit the people who upload these instructions by giving them visibility and a sense of satisfaction from helping others. Likewise, I-PASS provides savings in terms of money and time for drivers but also a large reduction in cost and a wealth of information to the Illinois highway authority. Thus, efficiency is twice as nice. Third, addition by subtraction.
Have you heard the phrase “addition by subtraction?” The basic idea behind this phrase is that sometimes, things get better and we take something away. This stands in contrast to our typical assumption that the more we add to something, the better it gets. I often use this phrase when I’m evaluating academic papers which are usually too long in proportion to their value. This phrase could also be applied to the concept of efficiency.
Indeed, many examples of digital efficiency add value by subtracting a component of an analog product or service. For example, I-PASS subtracts the need for physical coins or currency. Likewise, Amazon subtracts the needs for physical transport to a physical store. As we’ll discuss shortly, subtracting something that people are used to having or doing is not always easy for them to accept. It may take a while for them to get used to.
Now that you know what digital efficiency is, here are some tips for successfully leveraging this concept to enhance your marketing efforts. First of all, be patient. I have a question for you. Actually, it’s more of a joke. How many professors does it take to change a light bulb? Who said anything about change? As suggested by this joke, most professors don’t like change.